Video – Secrets of Success

Secrets of Success in Eight Words


  1. Watch video.
  2. Then read text below it.
  3. Listen and read at the same time. Repeat.
  4. Watch video again without text.

This is really a two-hour presentation I give to high school students cut down to three minutes. And it all started one day on a play on my way to TED seven years ago. And in the seat next to me was a high school student, a teenager, and she came from a really poor family. And she wanted to make something of her life, and she asked me a simple, little question. She said, “What leads to success?” And I felt really badly, because I couldn’t give her a good answer.

So, I get off the plane and I come to TED, and I think, “Geez, I’m in the middle of a room of successful people. So why don’t I ask them what helped them succeed and pass it on to kids.

So, here we are, seven years, 500 interviews later, and I’m going to tell you what really leads to success and makes TEDsters tick.

And, the first thing is passion. Freeman Thomas says, “I’m driven by my passion.” TEDsters do it for love. They don’t do it for money. Carol Coletta says, “I would pay someone to do what I do.” And the interesting thing is if you do it for love, the money comes anyway.

Work. Rupert Murdoch said to me, “It’s all hard work. Nothing comes easily. But I have a lot of fun.” Did he say fun?! Rupert? Yes!  TEDsters do have fun working, and they work hard. I figure they’re not workaholics. They’re workafrolics.

Good. Alex Garden says, “To be successful put your nose down in something and get damn good at it.” There’s no magic. It’s practice, practice, practice.

And it’s focus. Norman Jewison said to me, “I think it all has to do with focusing yourself on one thing.”

And push. David Gallo says, “Push yourself. Physically, mentally, you’ve gotta push, push, push.” You’ve gotta push through shyness and self-doubt. Goldie Hawn says, “I always had self-doubts. I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t smart enough. I didn’t think I’d make it.”

Now, it’s not always easy to push yourself, and that’s why they invented mothers. Frank Gehry said to me, “My mother pushed me.”

Serve. Sherwin Nuland said it was a privilege to serve as a doctor. Now, a lot of kids tell me they want to be millionaires, and the first thing I say to them is, “Okay, well you can’t serve yourself. You gotta serve others something of value, because that’s the way people really get rich.”

Ideas. TEDster, Bill Gates said, “I had an idea, founding the first micro-computer software company.” I’d say it was a pretty good idea.

And there’s no magic to creativity and coming up with ideas. It’s just doing some very simple things. And I give lots of evidence.

Persist. Joe Kraus says, “Persistence is the number one reason for our success.” You gotta persist through failure. You gotta persist through crap, which, of course, means Criticism, Rejection, Assholes, and Pressure.

So, the big an… the answer to this question is simple. Pay four thousand bucks ($4,000) and come to TED. Or failing that, do the eight things – and trust me, these are the big eight things – that lead to success.

Thank you TEDsters for all your input into this.







Published by myunlimitedenglish

I understand that language acquisition is a process. Once a person has learned the first few words of the language, they are on their way! Whether the next step is talking about ordering food in a restaurant or launching a rocket into space, I am available to help with the English. My passion in my teaching is to applaud the acquired language, to build further understanding and to practice next steps. I look forward to helping you in your next steps.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: