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What ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Can Teach Us About Success

What ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Can Teach Us About Success

Everyone knows Weird Al Yankovic. I mean, who could possibly forget “Amish Paradise”?

But recently, Weird Al enjoyed a massive success that surpassed any of his past albums. His latest album, “Mandatory Fun,” entered the charts at No. 1 — the first time ever for him. (Watch him get the happy news here!)

And for good reason. His album is full of clever gems, like “Foil” (a parody of “Royals” by Lorde), “Tacky” (“Happy” by Pharrell Williams), and — my personal favorite — “Word Crimes” (“Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke).

In fact, this weird dude can teach us quite a bit about success, starting with these 10 things:

1. Success doesn’t always happen right away

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    Weird Al was totally blown away by the success of this latest album. After all, he had been doing this for years, and he hadn’t received nearly this much attention before.

    It just goes to show that sometimes, success doesn’t come right away. You have to work at it long and hard to get where you want to be. But it will totally pay off.

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    2. Be bold

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      If there’s one thing Weird Al certainly is, it’s bold. I mean, look at that costume.

      But he’s bold in more ways than one. To get Iggy Azalea’s permission to do a parody of “Fancy,” he attended one of her concerts and waited backstage.

      According to Billboard, Weird Al explained, “I talked to her as she was literally walking offstage. I introduced myself, ‘Hi, I’m Weird Al Yankovic, and I would love to do a parody of “Fancy.”‘ The next morning, I was in the studio recording.”

      Sometimes, you just have to put yourself out there. You just might get exactly what you were hoping for.

      3. Be persistent

      weird al 3

        Weird Al was set on doing a parody of Pharrell’s “Happy” — but he couldn’t get a hold of his contacts. But he didn’t stop there. He actually found Pharrell’s personal e-mail (in a way that he didn’t want to divulge, apparently), and he asked him himself. Pharrell “couldn’t have been nicer about it” and was happy to give him permission.

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        If Plan A doesn’t work, try Plan B through Z. You can do anything you set your mind to.

        4. Always be the good guy

        Speaking of permission … did you know Weird Al doesn’t even need the permission of artists? He could technically just do parodies of them without even contacting them. But he still asks permission. And as a result, many of the artists not only give him permission, but express how happy they are that he’s covering their stuff.

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          Respect other people, and they will be willing to help you out.

          5. Let the haters hate

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            When asked about bad feedback and negative responses, Weird Al explained that he was sometimes a little hurt by it, but he knew that it’s inevitable. “I’ve got so many other people on Twitter that are extremely positive, so it more than balances it out,” he said.

            The more successful you are, the more criticism you’ll get. If it’s constructive, use it. If it’s not, well, screw it.

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            6. Be flexible

            After all this success, Weird Al probably won’t come out with another album.

            weird al 6

              I know, right? But the reason isn’t because he’s quitting. It’s because he’s decided that the album form doesn’t lend itself well to his parodies, so he’s going to start utilizing YouTube.

              Don’t just stick to what you’ve always done. Even after you’ve had success, you need to constantly think about how you can do better next time. Be flexible with the times!

              7. Love what you do

              Weird Al loves being weird. He’s actually making a living off being weird, because hey — he’s good at it.

              Love what you do, and you’ll make it unique and all your own. You won’t be truly successful if you aren’t happy doing what you’re doing.

              weird al 7

                8. Be yourself

                If there’s one thing Weird Al can teach us, it’s to be yourself.

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                  I mean, it pretty much goes without saying.

                  9. Don’t trample others on your way

                  Weird Al’s parodies are never cruel or derogatory. That’s because he doesn’t believe in making fun of others. “I’m a fan, like everybody else,” he explained. “When I do these parodies, it’s not meant to mock people … It’s an homage. … I don’t think you need to be hurtful to be funny.”

                  weird al 9

                    You can gain success without damaging others (even Stephenie Meyer). Don’t become so obsessed with getting to the top that you forget this crucial fact.

                    10. Vulgar doesn’t always win

                    You don’t need to be crude to be a star. Weird Al never swears. In fact, he does awesome things instead, like this:

                    weird al 10

                      … and that’s why we love him.

                      Featured photo credit: Mary Rehak via flickr.com

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                      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

                      The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

                      The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

                      Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

                      Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

                      The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

                      Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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                      Program Your Own Algorithms

                      Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

                      Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

                      By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

                      How to Form a Ritual

                      I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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                      Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

                      1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
                      2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
                      3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
                      4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

                      Ways to Use a Ritual

                      Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

                      1. Waking Up

                      Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

                      2. Web Usage

                      How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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                      3. Reading

                      How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

                      4. Friendliness

                      Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

                      5. Working

                      One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

                      6. Going to the gym

                      If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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                      7. Exercise

                      Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

                      8. Sleeping

                      Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

                      8. Weekly Reviews

                      The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

                      Final Thoughts

                      We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

                      More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

                       

                      Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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