What Is 80 Percent of Success Showing Up?

What is 80 Percent of Success Showing Up?

What is “80 percent of success showing up”?

Tell me what does it really mean, and who first coined this popular phrase?

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It’s been quite awhile since I wrote a blog about my band, so I figured I’d share this cute but very TRUE (I swear it!) and entertaining story and life lesson with you.


It’s all about how our “80 percent of Success showing up” one autumn night taught us all about a great life and business lesson.

Since it was such a unique adventure, at one point I decided to change it to how 85% of Success is showing up!

80 percent of success showing up is the original phrase

But I have since changed it back to “80 percent of Success showing up” and applied this famous phrase to our own unique and entertaining story.

You will soon see why this provides a much better context. 

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80 percent of success showing up was coined by Woody Allen

Woody’s phrase “80 percent of Success showing up” Came to Life One October Night

The famous comedian Woody Allen was the genius who first coined the phrase ““80 percent of Success showing up”, and it has become massively popular ever since.

Soon we would learn this phrase would so aptly apply to our band dilemma.

Back in the day we used to be called The Air Dogs and we played classic rock and Top 40 at a club called Burke’s in Yonkers, NY where we were having a successful weekly run for almost one year.

Burke's Pub in Westchester, NY

Seldom if ever did I change the lineup, and there were only a few occasions when that happened.

On those few occasions, I would substitute 1 to 2 musicians at most during the rare cases a band member happened to be ill or had a conflict. The crowd at Burkes always loved us regardless of the lineup, as I always “subbed out” competent experienced professional musicians; and the proof in the pudding was they would always demand “one more song” at the end of the night.

One particular October night, our bass player was out sick, my drummer was out of the country, and our singer was doing a show elsewhere. That same day I decided to take the night off to go to a house party of one of my wife’s friends and subbed a friend of mine as a replacement on guitar who was a fabulous live musician. He was so great he would perform his own shows as a one-man band!

So now there were 4 non-band members of the Air Dogs performing – all great musicians and entertainers – but not one regular band member on stage!

Air Dogs early band photo

On the next morning I received a message from my guitar player replacement that the band “killed it”, the crowd loved the music and masterful performance from this unique “sub” band. They demanded two encores at the end of the night.

Interesting subplot about an event

However, later the sub singer who performed the gig shared an interesting subplot of events that occurred that night at Burke’s involving the owner and the band.

80 percent of success showing up with the Spare Dogs

You’re the Spare Dogs!

The singer noticed the owner of the club kept “staring strangely” at the band all night long while cloaked in shadows next to a curtain near the back of the room. The owner’s odd behavior was also very noticeable to the rest of the band from the very beginning of the first set.

It was now the start of the 2nd set, the band was well into their first song and their performance was on fire. The engaged crowd was rocking and absolutely loving the music!

All of a sudden, the owner runs up to the front of the stage with an 8” x 10” black and white photo clutched in his hand. He stands there shockingly looking down at the band photo, then immediately peers upward staring incredulously at the band onstage. He repeats this action two times more, the last time shaking his head in bewilderment and disgust.

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The first song ends. The crowd cheers wildly then after thirty seconds the loud cheers slowly fade.

That’s when the owner cried aloud to the band, “Where are the Air Dogs?!”

The sub singer immediately responded, “We’re the Air Dogs, sir.”

The owner harshly replied, “You guys aren’t the Air Dogs – I am definitely giving you a new name. You’re the Spare Dogs!!”

Wow, what a statement!

Well, one thing we both could agree on: we certainly weren't your typical Curious Bench Cats!"

We were not curious bench cats!

Our agent called me to tell me I should contact the owner immediately. He needed to speak directly to me. 

Air Dogs got on the phone

So that evening I called the owner, and while displeased he was gracious enough to offer me his candid assessments of what went wrong.

80 percent of success showing up leads to valuable client-vendor relationships

80 Percent of Success Showing Up Leads to Valuable Lessons in Client-Vendor Relationships

Granted, the owner acknowledged our new “Spare Dogs” band he first witnessed having earned its new moniker performed excellently and his crowd very much enjoyed the entire night’s performance. He then almost simultaneously reprimanded me.

He said, “Place yourself in my shoes. How would my customers feel if I suddenly changed the dinner menu to something else and didn’t tell them? I bet they certainly wouldn’t like it. If I did this, do you think we would stay in business very long? I think not! I would lose loyal customers by the masses due to lack of trust.”

He was absolutely right. I learned a GREAT lesson from our talk, and this is what I gained:

  • Communicate effectively and let your clients know early if a change is coming
  • The more frequently you can effectively manage your client’s expectations, the greater long-term success you will have and the better your client-vendor relationship will be
  • Never change the “menu items” or prime components without informing the client first
  • If you MUST make changes to a successful formula, whenever possible only make small changes
  • Never bait and switch, this will only backfire and lead to failure
  • I would rather cancel the event early if I am anticipating there could be major problems and protect my reputation
  • If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it

Quickly I learned that I could continue to sub out 1 to 2 players whenever needed as long as I myself or a recognizable authority that I pre-informed the client about was present on the gig. Someone who was recognizable to ownership as an authority figure always needed to be available on hand to field questions and exercise damage control.

Don't be an absentee leader

I became acutely cognizant of the importance for me to not to be an absentee leader at an event and to be present on the gig almost all times. The few exceptions are being on my death bed, being involved in a serious accident, or other “acts of God.”

It is one thing if I am on hand at the gig (job) and using substitutes, but it is quite another if as a leader I am absent. From that day forward, I rarely missed a club date or an event.

The moral of the story:

Represent your product strongly and proudly.

80 percent of success showing up is by Woody Allen

What Woody Said (or what Didn’t He Say?!)

It’s very true.

It was one of my all-time favorite comedians Woody Allen who so often played the hilarious neurotic character in his films who once said in REAL life, “80% of success is showing up”

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But THEN on record true to character he changed his mind SO many times later saying “70% of success….and 90% of success…. and so on and so on!”

Look here’s the proof!

Woody Allen said other things too

Oh well, what I will say then is who really cares about the number!! (…..you get the idea).

If Woody can change it, so can I !

So to end this amusing true story and lesson, let ME have the FINAL word and say....

80 percent of success showing up was changed by me to 85%

“85% of success is just showing up.”

There I said it.

But remember, it will always be Woody who invented the “80 percent of success showing up” famous phrase.

Feel free to leave any comments!

About the Author

KAJU is the band leader and founding member of OFF THE HOOK, one of the premiere dance party bands in the New York Tri-State Area. After contracting a mysterious hand disorder, Kaju now writes to help other musicians and artists deal with disabilities. Currently he is a Full-time Affiliate Marketer and 1-on-1 mentor at Wealthy Affiliate, a community that can help anyone start an online business without prior experience. This is where he teaches others how to make a great passive income. Read more about his story here!