In memoriam Vicco von Buelow aka Loriot
No other skill distinguishes truly successful people from the rest more dramatically than persistence, the ability and strength to keep going despite all difficulties. History is full of examples of men and women who are today known as extremely successful, but hardly anyone realizes the difficulties these people had to go through before they could harvest the fruits of their efforts.
Last week Germany lost their greatest humorist Vicco von Bülow aka Loriot. A sad day? Of course. And yet, at the same time it was amazing to see how people responded to the news of his death: thousands of funny posts reviving classic Loriot cartoons and video clips emerged on Facebook and Twitter. Humor was spread instead of tears. The man who made me laugh out loud countless times must have looked down from heaven to us with a big smile on his face: what greater honor could there be for a true comedian but seeing even his death cause us to laugh?
If you are German you surely remember Wum & Wendelin, Familie Hoppenstedt, Herr Müller-Lüdenscheidt and Herr Doktor Klöbner. If you are not, these figures give you an idea about Loriot’s outstanding success: over 50 books and booklets published, innumerable TV spots, two movies and awards en masse (see loriot.de and wikipedia).
When we hear such success stories, we often stand in awe. We might think that successful people were born with talents we don’t have or that they have resources we cannot access. This often serves as an excuse for us not being as successful ourselves.
What we tend to overlook is that most of outstandingly successful people went through extremely difficult times in their lives before they turned famous. Times when success was simply absent. What kept them going was a strong believe in themselves and in doing the right thing. Thus they remained persistent when times were tough.
My “humorous hero” is no exception. As I learned last week from Spiegel on-line Loriot has a hard time making a living after graduating from university. In 1949 he writes in a letter to his father that despite lots of efforts he failed to get more assignments. A magazine he regularly writes for reduces their orders. Loriot stays together with his wife in a small one bedroom apartment, and struggles to pay the rent of about 50 USD.
Then, in 1953, a cartoon series for the renowned magazine “Stern” could have been his breakthrough – but turns out as a disaster: readers don’t laugh about the cartoons “auf den Hund gekommen” but instead threaten to stop buying the weekly magazine. After the seventh issue with the dog cartoons the editor decides to cancel the series. No other German publisher gives young Loriot a second chance. The fate of a genius who is ahead of his time!
Does Loriot give up? Not at all! 1954 Swiss publisher Daniel Keel prints the controversial dog cartoons, and Loriot’s first book turns out as a success. This marks the beginning of a life-long collaboration between von Buelow and Keel. And suddenly the German magazines seem to have forgotten the quarrels of the past: for 17 years “Stern” will continue to publish Loriot’s cartoons.
Vicco von Buelow will be referred to later as the creator of “comical Germany” and will be elected again and again among the most popular Germans. Today hardly anyone is aware of the initial rejection of the great artist.
Indeed it seems that going through tough times is a typical pattern of all extraordinarily successful people. For example just recently I came across a blog post “Attributes of Billionaires” by Aziz Ali on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com
The examples cited range from Bill Gates over Oprah Winfrey to Warren Buffet. Aziz tells us about the “hidden emotional challenges” of these extremely successful people, and how perseverance helped them to ultimately get where they wanted to be.
Choose any person you admire, I bet when you look up their story you’ll be surprised to see what kind of difficulties they had to deal with, and how they overcame them. Only a few people are just born lucky.
May these stories inspire you To Remain Productive When You Feel Like Giving Up and to make your dreams come true.
Thank you Loriot for making me laugh more often than anyone else did. And thank you for encouraging me to remain persistent when times are tough. (It might be no coincidence that Vicco sounds so similar to Vivo…! Ach was.)