The greats in their field oftentimes make their work look easy. We wish we could effortlessly play guitar and flail around like Keith Richards; or write with the fluidity and wit of Hunter S. Thompson. We behold these figures at the top of their game and marvel—“What a gift!” While true, one can easily squander their gift without the passion and dedication to craft it takes to stand out in this world.
So in the spirit of “Getting down to business,” we’ve highlighted five public figures who are tall on drive and short on time to waste. This talented and diverse crop of hard-working high-achievers—some you know, some you might not—have demonstrated an obsessive commitment to their work and have recognition and material success to prove it.
Brennan Agranoff: Middle schoolers have always been the black sheep of childhood: No longer precious little rascals, but still too young to be taken seriously. Plus the majority degrade into unsightly, self-pleasuring puberty mutants during this time. But six years ago there was an Oregon kid named Brennan Agranoff (then 13) who resolved to shake up the mundane world of socks.
In the years since he’s served as the founder and CEO of a custom socks startup called HoopSwag. Agranoff’s e-commerce company makes custom-design athletic socks that are both aesthetically hip and modestly priced. Now 19, the prosperous Boy Wonder has personally designed all of HoopSwag’s 700 styles—ranging from fresh takes on recognizable college sports color schemes to the comic absurdity of styles entitled “Goat Farm,” “Rainbow Farting Unicorns,” “Dog Park” and more.
HoopSwag made over a million dollars in sales by its fourth year and grossed $1.6 million in 2018. Quite the feat for a little Beavis from the Pacific Northwest.
Chelsea Wolfe: Devoted singer-songwriters are some of the hardest-working people around. And while it’s true that the more accomplished of the bunch enjoy certain spoils of fame, the calling itself is a lifelong mission to create and shape one’s inner-world into refined compositions that will resonate with humanity.
Chelsea Wolfe is a 35-year-old American artist who is either an idol or a complete unknown, depending on whom you ask. But in the last nine years she’s amassed a sizeable and unique fan base from the fringes of the North American rock community via five full-length albums and incessant touring.
Critically described as a practitioner of doom metal, goth rock and folk, Wolfe often couches her haunting vocals with droning guitars or inky piano accompaniments—creating original and visceral chambers of sound that are unrivalled in her time.
Her sixth studio album, Birth of Violence,will be released on September 13, 2019.
Renato Muccillo:A self-taught impressionist painter from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Muccillo has worked six days a week for over eight hours a day since he quit the rat race to focus on his craft in 2003. His output of striking oil landscapes of his native surroundings have been showcased in numerous top North American galleries and currently command anywhere from $2,000 to $17,000 per painting.
Now in his early-fifties, Muccillo drew inspiration as a young artist from the works of Canadian naturalist and wildlife artist Robert Bateman. Muccillo’s years of success translating the outdoor splendor of his backyard to canvass finds him relieved and grateful to be able to live the rest of his life on his own terms.
“I’m living my life as an artist, saying, ‘You know what? I’m not gonna have anybody dictate to me what I’m gonna paint,’” Muccillo said in a recent documentary short on his work. “I’m gonna paint what I’m gonna paint. I’m gonna do it really well. I know what is good and what is not good. And the ‘not good’ never makes it out of the studio.”
Chris Petersen: For such an esteemed institution in a sexy urban center, the University of Washington football program became the laughing stock of the former Pac-10 conference just 11 years ago. The 2008 Huskies went an astounding 0-12 under head coach Tyrone Willingham, leading to his firing after posting a dreadful 22.9 winning percentage through four seasons in Seattle.
Willingham’s successor, Steve Sarkisian, fared better in his stint at the helm (34-29) from 2009-13, but the program was mired in mediocrity and desperately needed a savior to restore its national credibility. Poached from neighboring Boise State, UW found their agent of change in 2014 with new head coach Chris Petersen.
Now 54-years-old after five years resurrecting Washington football, Petersen has guided the Huskies to a 47-21 record (a 69.1 winning percentage), three AP Top 25 finishes and a spot in the 2016 College Football Playoff.
In 2017, Petersen was rewarded for his success with a contract extension through 2023 that made him the Pac-12’s highest-paid coach.
Dave Eggers:Any practical collection of famed hard-workers must let its resident scribe have the last word. The bestselling author of 12 books that have been translated into 42 languages worldwide, Eggers crashed the American literary scene in 2000 with the release of his groundbreaking debut A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.
A genre-bending memoir where Eggers’ probing, yet amusing prose confronts the cancer-related deaths of his parents, Staggering Geniusearned him Pulitzer Prize nomination for General Non-Fiction and a seat at the roundtable of great American authors.
Flash ahead to 2019, and the complete works of Dave Eggers populate entire shelves at any high-volume bookstore. Titles like What Is the What(2006), Zeitoun(2009), The Circle(2013) and The Monk of Mokha(2018) have each been appraised with a confluence of critical and commercial success.
His 13th work since the turn of the century, The Parade,was released in March. It’s storyline has been summarized by NPR as “a meditation on the difficulties of global development and aid work” through the shared experience of its two mismatched protagonists.
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