Perseverance: The hidden variable of success

 This is the first article of the series “Take Five for Leadership,” which explores business insights from the story of Dave Brubeck’s classic recording  Take Five . Originally published on  LinkedIn  on January 30, 2017.

This is the first article of the series “Take Five for Leadership,” which explores business insights from the story of Dave Brubeck’s classic recording Take Five. Originally published on LinkedIn on January 30, 2017.

Dave Brubeck was one of the most well-respected pianists in the jazz community during his 60-year career. He toured and recorded prolifically as a young musician, releasing 28 albums between 1946 and 1959. Yet despite his talent, work ethic, and a strong relationship with the media (he was the second jazz musician featured on the cover of Time magazine), Brubeck still had to hustle for his breakthrough. It wasn’t until his 27th album that he achieved game-changing success. His album Time Out, featuring the hit song Take Five, became the first jazz album to go platinum.

They say success is when preparation meets opportunity. But what happens when opportunity shows up and you’re not there? Brubeck invested more than three decades and nearly 30 albums before his breakthrough moment. How long are you willing to work for the success you desire?

“I told [one of my] doctors that I was advised to cut back. He says, “I’ve just been to one of your concerts and I watched you get better. And you had more strength at the end, two and a half hours later.” He said, “Don’t cut back. There’s something happening in your body that’s very healthy for you for you to be able to create more and more energy as the night goes on. Don’t cut back.” — Dave Brubeck

Don’t quit. The only way you’ll be ready and win when your number gets called is if you consistently show up and perform with excellence.


About the Author

Jeff Ponders II is a modern-day Batman. By day, he infuses innovation, strategy and creative energy into brands and startups as a keynote speaker and strategy consultant. By night, he performs across the United States as a jazz saxophonist.