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TED2005

Richard St. John: 8 secrets of success

February 23, 2005

Why do people succeed? Is it because they're smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.

Richard St. John - Marketer, success analyst
A self-described average guy who found success doing what he loved, Richard St. John spent more than a decade researching the lessons of success -- and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
This is really a two-hour presentation
I give to high school students,
00:24
cut down to three minutes.
00:27
And it all started one day
on a plane, on my way to TED,
00:28
seven years ago.
00:31
And in the seat next to me
was a high school student, a teenager,
00:32
and she came from a really poor family.
00:37
And she wanted to make
something of her life,
00:39
and she asked me a simple little question.
00:42
She said, "What leads to success?"
00:44
And I felt really badly,
00:46
because I couldn't give her a good answer.
00:47
So I get off the plane, and I come to TED.
00:49
And I think, jeez, I'm in the middle
of a room of successful people!
00:52
So why don't I ask them
what helped them succeed,
00:55
and pass it on to kids?
00:58
So here we are, seven years,
500 interviews later,
01:00
and I'm going to tell you
what really leads to success
01:04
and makes TEDsters tick.
01:07
And the first thing is passion.
01:09
Freeman Thomas says,
"I'm driven by my passion."
01:11
TEDsters do it for love;
they don't do it for money.
01:14
Carol Coletta says, "I would pay
someone to do what I do."
01:17
And the interesting thing is:
01:20
if you do it for love,
the money comes anyway.
01:22
Work! Rupert Murdoch said
to me, "It's all hard work.
01:24
Nothing comes easily.
But I have a lot of fun."
01:28
Did he say fun? Rupert? Yes!
01:31
(Laughter)
01:34
TEDsters do have fun working.
And they work hard.
01:35
I figured, they're not workaholics.
They're workafrolics.
01:38
(Laughter)
01:41
Good!
01:42
(Applause)
01:43
Alex Garden says, "To be successful,
put your nose down in something
01:44
and get damn good at it."
01:48
There's no magic;
it's practice, practice, practice.
01:49
And it's focus.
01:52
Norman Jewison said to me,
01:53
"I think it all has to do
with focusing yourself on one thing."
01:55
And push!
01:58
David Gallo says, "Push yourself.
02:00
Physically, mentally,
you've got to push, push, push."
02:02
You've got to push through shyness
and self-doubt.
02:04
Goldie Hawn says,
"I always had self-doubts.
02:07
I wasn't good enough;
I wasn't smart enough.
02:10
I didn't think I'd make it."
02:12
Now it's not always easy to push yourself,
02:14
and that's why they invented mothers.
02:16
(Laughter)
02:18
(Applause)
02:19
Frank Gehry said to me,
02:21
"My mother pushed me."
02:24
(Laughter)
02:25
Serve!
02:26
Sherwin Nuland says,
"It was a privilege to serve as a doctor."
02:28
A lot of kids want to be millionaires.
02:32
The first thing I say is:
02:34
"OK, well you can't serve yourself;
02:35
you've got to serve others
something of value.
02:37
Because that's the way
people really get rich."
02:39
Ideas!
02:43
TEDster Bill Gates says, "I had an idea:
02:44
founding the first micro-computer
software company."
02:47
I'd say it was a pretty good idea.
02:50
And there's no magic to creativity
in coming up with ideas --
02:52
it's just doing some very simple things.
02:55
And I give lots of evidence.
02:57
Persist!
02:59
Joe Kraus says,
03:00
"Persistence is the number
one reason for our success."
03:01
You've got to persist through failure.
You've got to persist through crap!
03:04
Which of course means "Criticism,
Rejection, Assholes and Pressure."
03:08
(Laughter)
03:11
So, the answer to this question is simple:
03:14
Pay 4,000 bucks and come to TED.
03:18
(Laughter)
03:20
Or failing that, do
the eight things -- and trust me,
03:21
these are the big eight things
that lead to success.
03:24
Thank you TEDsters
for all your interviews!
03:27
(Applause)
03:30

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Richard St. John - Marketer, success analyst
A self-described average guy who found success doing what he loved, Richard St. John spent more than a decade researching the lessons of success -- and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book.

Why you should listen

Richard St. John was on his way to the TED conference when a girl on the plane asked him, "What really leads to success?" Even though he had achieved some success, he couldn't explain how he did it. So he spent the next ten years researching success and asking over 500 extraordinarily successful people in many fields what helped them succeed. After analyzing, sorting, and correlating millions of words of research, and building one of the most organized databases on the subject of success, he discovered "The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common" and wrote the bestseller 8 To Be Great.

In his books and talks,he shares a wealth of wisdom from the world's most successful people -- knowledge that can help others succeed in their own way, whether it's escaping poverty, building a business, raising a family, or changing the world.

The original video is available on TED.com
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