This blog is a slight departure from my normal topics and not something I would typically write about. I recently saw Ryan Seacrest on Oprah (you can watch part of it here). While I knew he is host of American Idol, I really did not know anything else about him. In fact I have never seen a single episode of American Idol. Nonetheless, a few things he said on Oprah really struck a chord with me. He can’t sing, he can’t dance, he can’t act, and he is not particularly good-looking, although he does have a nice dose of charm and charisma. So how does a person like this, with no particular talent, become host of one of the world’s all-time  most popular TV shows in history?

Many might say, he’s just lucky…

It would be easy to say that he landed this job by chance and that is what sent his career skyward. Well, after hearing him on Oprah for 20 minutes, one quickly realizes that this was not luck and no accident whatsoever. I have come to learn that whenever you see someone that is wildly successful, the chance of it being just plain dumb luck is very slim, and this is just another example. Ryan Seacrest has pursued a dream since high school. He worked as an intern on a radio show until midnight every night all through high school.   He had a passion for radio, TV, and entertainment. He started from the ground up, working wherever he could in this industry.  His idols growing up were Merv Griffin and Larry King. He now works 18 hour days, working about 7-8 different jobs simultaneously (hosting 2 radio shows, 2 tv shows, runs a production company, among other stuff). Ryan does not consider this work, its his passion. Its what he has dreamed of and worked towards since he was a little boy. This is not luck, its dedication and a lot of hard work. Was it lucky that American Idol turned out to be the craze it turned into? Sure. But Ryan would have found success with or without the success of American Idol.

Having recently read Seth Godin’s Linchpin, you can quickly identify Ryan Seacrest as a Linchpin. He has taken his passion and turned into an art form. As Seth explains, “Some people are hooked on passion, deriving their sense of self from the act of being passionate…the combination of passion and art is what makes someone a linchpin“. He put in the time, the effort, the creativity and leveraged his career every step of the way. In fact, when Oprah asked him what he learned from Larry King, it was simply that Larry leveraged his position, experience, and showmanship to get even more important interviews and bigger and better jobs. Ryan has done the same. Leveraging his knowledge, experience, and success to get the next ‘big’ thing. He is now embarking on a new project with Chef mega-superstar Jamie Oliver. No luck, just leveraging his success and experience for the next big thing.

All successful people do this, and that is how they become successful. You may only see the end result and be quick to conclude they ‘got lucky’, but only when you see how these individuals turned passion, art, hard work, long hours, and a series of successes (and failures) to get to that point, do you realize that there was little luck involved. Ryan Seacrest is no different. No dumb luck, just a lot of passion and a lot of hard work.