Transcript

Richard St. John on TED.com

Posted by: Tedstaff

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.

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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 plane, 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, jeez, I’m in the middle of a room of successful people!

(slide: group of people at TED with an outline of a person drawn in the middle)

So why don’t I ask them what helped them succeed, and pass it on to kids?

(slide: “What leads to success? 7 years of research, 500 interviews”)

So here we are, seven years, 500 interviews later, and I’m gonna tell you what really leads to success and makes TED-sters tick. And the first thing is passion.

(slide: word “Passion” with figure standing on the ‘A’ holding a heart. “I’m driven by my passion”- Freeman Thomas, car designer, Daimler Chrysler)

Freeman Thomas says “I’m driven by my passion.” TED-sters do it for love, they don’t do it for money.

(slide: “Do it for LOVE, not MONEY”, figure moving from money bag to heart- “I would pay someone to do what I do.”- Carol Colleta, radio producer, Smart City)

Carol Coletta said “I would pay someone to do what I do.”

And the interesting thing is, if you do it for love, the money comes anyway.

(slide: “Work”, figure on hammer. “It’s all hard work. Nothing comes easily. But I have a lot of fun.”- Rupert Murdoch, big cheese CEO)

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! TED-sters do have fun working. And they work hard. I figured, they’re not workaholics. They’re worka-‘frolics’.

(slide: “GOOD”- figure holding star. “To be successful put your nose down in something and get damn good at it.”- Alex Garden, game developer)

Good! Alex Garden says “To be successful put your nose down in something and get damn good at it.”

(slide: sign saying “Practice Practice Practice”)

There’s no magic, it’s “Practice, practice, practice.”

(slide: “FOCUS”- figure with spyglass. “I think it all has to do with focusing yourself to one thing.”- Norman Jewison, filmmaker)

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

(slide: “PUSH”- one figure pushing another- “Push yourself. Physically, mentally, you gotta push, push, push.”- David Gallo, marine scientist)

And push! David Gallo says “Push yourself. Physically, mentally, you’ve gotta push, push, push.” You gotta push through shyness and self-doubt.

(slide: “Shyness” and “Self-Doubt”- more figures pushing. “I always had self-doubts. I wasn’t good enough, wasn’t smart enough. I didn’t think I’d make it.”- Goldie Hawn, actor)

Goldie Hawn says “I always had self-doubts. I wasn’t good enough, I (sic) 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.

(slide: “It’s not always easy to push yourself”- Tow truck with “MOM” on side, pushing a figure- “My mother pushed me”- Frank Gehry)

(laughter) Frank Gehry- Frank Gehry said to me “My mother pushed me.”

Serve!

(slide: “SERVE”, two figures holding box- “It was a privilege to serve as a doctor.”- Sherwin Nuland, professor of surgery, Yale)

Sherwin Nuland says “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 “OK, well you can’t serve yourself, you gotta serve others something of value.”

(slide: “Millionaires serve others something of value”- figure holding box labeled “value”- another figure moves in and swaps “value” box for a money bag)

Because that’s the way people really get rich.

(slide: “IDEAS”- figure with big lightbulb over head- “I had an idea- founding the first micro-computer software company.”- Bill Gates, software guy)

Ideas. TED-ster Bill Gates says “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 in coming up with ideas, it’s just doing some very simple things.

(slide: “Listen/ Observe/ Be Curious/ Ask Questions/ Problem Solve/ Make Connections/ IDEAS” figure w/ lightbulb again)

-And I give lots of evidence.

(slide: “PERSIST”- figure pushing ball up stairs- “Persistence is the number one reason for our success.”- Joe Kraus, Excite)

Persist. Joe Kraus says “Persistence is the number one reason for our success.” You gotta persist through failure.

(slide: figure falls from stairs onto word “Failure”, word “CRAP” appears, followed by key to the acronym: “Criticism, Rejection, Assholes, and Pressure.”)

You gotta persist through crap! Which of course means “Criticism, Rejection, Assholes, and Pressure.” (laughter)

So, the big app- the answer to this question is simple. Pay 4,000 bucks and come to TED. Or, failing that, do the 8 things-

(slide: “What leads to success? Passion, work, focus, persist, ideas, good, push, serve”)

-and trust me, these are the big eight things that lead to success.

Thank you TED-sters for all your interviews!