We seem to think talent and success are somehow connected.
The first book on marketing I ever read was this, and on the first page is a quote from Victoria Beckham:
'I want to be as famous as Persil Automatic'.
It's hard to say she isn't.
But anyone who remembers the Spice Girls (first time around) will know, back then her shelf-life wasn't looking good.
Posh Spice was never the best singer.
She wasn't the best dancer, either.
She wasn't the most charming, the funniest, the most likeable, and if you had to pick the most iconic image from the Spice Girls - maybe even 1990s Britain - it could well be this:
No Posh in sight.
And yet, while the other Spice Girls have flailed around in everything from reality TV to local radio, Victoria has become a multilateral threat: cultural royalty (if the guillotines ever come, Posh & Becks are surely next for the throne); fashion designer; business owner; empire builder.
In purely commercial terms, Victoria Beckham's individual net worth is now triple that of the other Spice Girls combined.
And in the interests of a well-rounded view: a marriage that's lasted two decades, and a bunch of kids who don't come across as little shits.
A truth of most successful people I've come across - rarely is the most successful person in the room the smartest.
Usually it's someone who's leveraged the hell out of a killer opportunity.
Someone whose skillset happens to map against the game they're playing; a game they can win.
Beckham was never the strongest singer, so didn't spend long half-baking a solo career.
She has an awkwardness that's kind of charming, but doesn't make her likeable. So she built a persona around aloofness.
She didn't need everyone to like her - just a few key people in the fashion world. So while Victoria Beckham (the label) has never made a profit, it's adored by the industry.
And then there's David Beckham - now one half of a superbrand, the smartest pick for a partner whose presence could be as enduring as hers.
She even took a savvy approach to the reunion game. Her ownership in Spice Girls Inc. made her millions from a comeback tour. She never once stepped on stage.
Her fortune was never expected or guaranteed. Talent never seemed apparent.
But she was dead set on being Persil.
'For a long time there, I was a bit of a laughingstock. And while everybody was busy laughing, what was I doing? I was laying the foundation to what I have in place now.'
Interview with Harpers Bazaar
Raw talent is ambiguous - and rare. Hard work is too commonplace to mean much.
Success is its own skillset, with its own skills tree.
She's proof: if you want it enough, you don't need talent to be successful.
Just play the games you can win.