Search all you want, there is no magic formula for fame and fortune.
The truth is, big breaks don't just happen; people make them happen--through hard work, networking, courage, passion and even pain. And as much as modern culture has glorified the notion of the "big break" (American Idol
, anyone?), lasting success has less to do with singular, transcendent moments than it does with incremental progress and unflagging grit.
Talent and tenacity notwithstanding, having the right friends helps, too--as pop star Mariah Carey can attest. While working as a backup singer for Puerto Rican performer Brenda Starr in 1988, Carey met Columbia Records executive Tommy Mottola at a party. As a favor, Starr gave Carey's demo tape to Mattola. After a listen, he bolted back to the party to track Carey down and sign her on. Good move for everyone: Carey's first five singles hit the Billboard Hot 100!