A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep” (7/23)
“Roses are red. Violets are blue. Vodka costs less than dinner for two” (7/23)
“If you don’t like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk!” (7/23)
“I am free of all prejudice. I hate everyone equally” (7/23)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (7/23)
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Entry from October 10, 2015
“Be so good they can’t ignore you”

American comedian, actor and author Steve Martin told the Los Angeles (CA) Times in a 1991 interview:

“A friend of mine once asked how to make it in show business and I said ‘Be so good that they can’t ignore you.’ She thought I was being flip but it’s true.”

A similar Martin quote appeared in a 1989 book, and it’s not known when he first said it. “Be so good they can’t ignore you” expanded beyond show business to become a popular business quotation. A 2012 business book title was: So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love.


Wikipedia: Steve Martin
Stephen Glenn “Steve” Martin (born August 14, 1945) is an American comedian, actor, screenwriter, producer, and musician.

Martin came to public notice as a writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and later became a frequent guest on The Tonight Show. In the 1970s, Martin performed his offbeat, absurdist comedy routines before packed houses on national tours. Since the 1980s, having branched away from stand-up comedy, Martin has become a successful actor, as well as an author, playwright, pianist and banjo player, eventually earning him an Emmy, Grammy and American Comedy awards, among other honors.

Google Books
Complete Singer’s Guide:
To Becoming a Working Professional

By Wayland Pickard
Studio City, CA: Pickard Pub.
1989
Pg. 133:
Steve Martin was asked his best advice on how to make it in Hollywood. He thought for a minute, turned to the camera with that silly grin on his face and said, “Be so damned good that they can’t ignore you anymore.”

Los Angeles (CA) Times
COVER STORY : A Side Order of Steve Martin : He’s had his ups and downs with L.A., but they’re back together in his new movie
February 03, 1991| Elaine Dutka | Times film writer
(...)
A: If I no longer had the prerogative of doing it my way, if I had to go back to pitching ideas, I’d definitely say “that’s it.” I’ve never had to make concessions. I never had a movie that I wanted to do turned down in my whole life. I always write the script first so it speaks for itself. A friend of mine once asked how to make it in show business and I said “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.” She thought I was being flip but it’s true. The challenge is trying to live up to the opportunities given me.

Google Books
The Everything Guide to Comedy Writing:
From stand-up to sketch - all you need to succeed in the world of comedy

By Mike Bent
Avon, MA: Adams Media
2009
Pg. 248:
If Steve Martin offers advice, take it. One of our greatest comedy minds, in seven words, sums up the key to success as a comedian: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

A lot of people disregard that simple advice.

OCLC WorldCat record
So good they can’t ignore you : why skills trump passion in the quest for work you love
Author: Cal Newport
Publisher: New York : Business Plus, 2012.
Edition/Format: Print book : English : 1st ed
Database: WorldCat
Summary:
In they eye-opening account, Cal New port debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice. After making his case against passion, Newport sets out on a quest to discover the reality of how people end up living what they do. Spending time with organic farmers, venture capitalists, screenwriters, freelance computer programmers, and other who admitted to deriving great satisfaction from their work, Newport uncovers the strategies they used and the pitfalls they avoided in developing their compelling careers. Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. This will change the way we think about our careers, happiness, and the crafting of a remarkable life.

Google Books
Conversations with Steve Martin
Edited by Robert E. Kapsis
Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi
2014
Pg. ?:
A friend of mine once asked how to make it in show business and I said, “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.” She thought I was being flip but it’s true. The challenge is trying to live up to the opportunities given me.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Saturday, October 10, 2015 • Permalink