Monthly Archives: February 2009

Secrets of Success

I just watched Richard St. John: Secrets of success in 8 words, 3 minutes.  Inspired by a question that a teenager asked Richard – “What leads to success?” – and the fact that he wasn’t able to give her an answer, Richard started asking TED conference attendees what they think leads to success.  After talking to more than 500 people over 7 years, he summarizes the answers in this talk.  Richard says the following factors lead to success:


Do what you do for love, not money.  He quotes Carol Coletta (radio producer of Smart City) as saying “I would pay someone to do what I do”.

Have you ever enjoyed your work so much that you couldn’t believe you were actually getting paid to do it?  The times in my life that I’ve felt like this were also the times during which I excelled.  A boring job makes you goof off and there is no way to be successful at something if you are not paying attention!


Richard quotes Rupert Murdoch: “It’s all hard work.  Nothing comes easily.”

That’s good to know!  Successful people most often make it look so easy!  They tend to make me think “of course they can do it, it’s easy for them!”.  It’s good to know that’s not the norm!


The word Richard used is “good”.  He quotes Alex Garden (a game developer) “To be successful, put your nose down in something and get damn good at it”).  Richard says: “There’s no magic – it’s practice-practice-practice”.

But how do you find out what you can become good at?  Is it only the things you have passion for?  How do you discover your passion?  Richard, I think the 3 minute talk was too short!  Could you add another minute and help answer this question?


I like it, but again, what should I focus on?


Meaning “push yourself” (not other people!).  Perseverance.  I’ve heard that before.  But again, some things are better not pursuing.  How do you identify those before putting all your energy into it?


“Perform or provide a service” almost sounds like a charitable activity, but it does not have to be so.  You can get rich if you serve people something of value!


To get good ideas, Richard offers the string: “Listen, observe, be curious, question, problem solve, make connections”.  Good idea!


Persist through failure and “crap” (criticism, rejection, assholes, pressure).  Sounds good, but again I have to ask for more guidance.  Some criticism and rejection is valid (and sometimes unwittingly you are the asshole!)- how can you learn that a course of action should be abandoned?

Richard’s talk is inspiring and a “feel-good” talk, but on the flip side are people trying to do something crazy or impossible things (like trying to sell Hummers or believing in clean coal!)  What guidance can convince these poor souls to abandon their ill conceived causes?