8 traits of successful people – Richard St. John

8 traits of successful people – Richard St. John

Now, my subject is success, so people sometimes
call me a “motivational speaker.” But I want you to know right up front
I’m not a motivational speaker. I couldn’t pass the height requirement. (Laughter) And I couldn’t motivate anybody. My employees actually call me
a de-motivational speaker. (Laughter) What I try to be
is an informational speaker. I went out and found out
some information about success, and I’m just here to pass it on. And my story started over
ten years ago, on a plane. I was on my way
to the TED conference in California, and in the seat next to me
was a teenage girl, and she came from a really poor family,
but she wanted to get somewhere in life. And as I tapped away on my computer,
she kept asking me questions, and then out of the blue,
she asked, “Are you successful?” I said, “No, I’m not successful.” Terry Fox, my hero,
now there’s a big success. He lost a leg to cancer,
then ran thousands of miles and raised millions for cancer research. Or Bill Gates,
a guy who owns his own plane and doesn’t have to sit
next to some kid asking him questions. (Laughter) But then I told her
about some of the stuff I’d done. I love communications,
and I’ve won lots of awards in marketing. I love running, and I still sometimes
win my age group, old farts over 60. (Laughter) My fastest marathon
is two hours and 43 minutes to run the 26 miles, or 42 kilometers. I’ve run over 50 marathons,
in all 7 continents. This was a run my wife and I did
up the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. And to qualify for the 7 continents, we had to run a marathon in Antarctica. But when we got there,
it didn’t look nice and calm like this, it looked like this. The waves were so high,
we couldn’t get to shore. So we sailed 200 miles further south
to where the seas were calm and ran the entire 26-mile marathon on the boat. 422 laps around the deck
of that little boat. My wife and I have also climbed
two of the world’s seven summits, the highest mountains on each continent. We climbed Aconcagua, the highest
mountain on the American continent, and Kilimanjaro,
the highest mountain in Africa. Well, to be honest, I puked my way
to the top of Kilimanjaro, I got altitude sickness. I got no sympathy from my wife. She passed me and did a lap around the top while I was still struggling up there. In spite of that, we’re still together
and have been for over 35 years. (Applause) I’d say that’s a success these days. So I said to the girl, “Well, you know,
I guess I have had some success.” And then she said,
“Okay, so are you a millionaire?” (Laughter) Now, I didn’t know what to say, because when I grew up,
it was bad manners to talk about money. But I figured I’d better be honest, and I said, “Yeah. I’m a millionaire. But I don’t know how it happened. I never went after the money,
and it’s not that important to me.” She said, “Maybe not to you,
but it is to me. I don’t want to be poor all my life. I want to get somewhere,
but it’s never going to happen.” I said, “Well, why not?” She said, “Well, you know,
I’m not very smart. I’m not doing great in school.” I said, “So what? I’m not smart.
I barely passed high school. I had absolutely nothing going for me. I was never voted most popular
or most likely to succeed. I started a whole new category
— most likely to fail. But in the end, I did okay.
So if I can do it, you can do it.” And then she asked me the big question: “Okay, so what really leads to success?” I said, “Jeez, sorry. I don’t know. I guess somehow I did it.
I don’t know how I did it.” So I get off the plane
and go to the TED conference, and I’m standing in a room full
of extraordinarily successful people in many fields — business, science, arts, health, technology, the environment — when it hit me: Why don’t I ask them
what helped them succeed, and find out what really
leads to success for everyone? So I was all excited to get out there
and start talking to these great people, when the self-doubt set in. I mean, why would people
want to talk to me? I’m not a famous journalist.
I’m not even a journalist. So I was ready to stop the project
before it even began, when who comes walking
towards me but Ben Cohen, the famous co-founder
of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I figured it was now or never. I pushed through the self-doubt, jumped out in front of him, and said, “Ben, I’m working on this project. I don’t even know what to ask you, but can you tell me
what helped you succeed?” He said, “Yeah, sure, come on.
Let’s go for a coffee.” And over coffee and ice cream,
Ben told me his story. Now here we are over 10 years later, and I’ve interviewed
over 500 successful people face-to-face, and collected
thousands of other success stories. I wanted to find the common factors
for success in all fields, so I had to interview people
in careers ranging from A to Z. These are just the careers I interviewed
beginning with the letter A, and in most cases more than one person. I interviewed six successful accountants, five corporate auditors,
five astronauts who had been into space, four actors who had won
the Academy Award for Best Actor, three of the world’s top astrophysicists, six of the world’s leading architects and, oh yeah, four Nobel Prize winners. Yeah, I know it doesn’t start with A,
but it’s kind of cool. (Laughter) And I want to say a sincere thanks to all the great people
that I’ve interviewed over the years. This really is their story;
I’m just the messenger. The really big job was taking
all the interviews and analyzing them,
word by word, line by line, and sorting them into all the factors
that people said helped them succeed. And then you start to see the big factors
that are common to most people’s success. Altogether, I analyzed
and sorted millions of words. Do you know how much work that is? That’s all I do, day and night —
sort and analyze. I’ll tell you, if I ever get my hands
on that kid on the plane — (Laughter) Actually, if I do, I’ll thank her. Because I’ve never had so much fun
and met so many interesting people. And now, I can answer her question. I discovered the 8 traits
successful people have in common, or the 8 to be great: Love what you do; work really hard; focus on one thing, not everything; keep pushing yourself;
come up with good ideas; keep improving yourself and what you do; serve others something of value, because
success isn’t just about me, me, me; and persist, because
there’s no overnight success. Why did I pick these? Because when I added up
all the comments in my interviews, more people said
those 8 things helped them than anything else. The eight traits are really
the heart of success, the foundation, and then on top we build
the specific skills that we need for our particular
field or career. Technical skills, analytical skills,
people skills, creative skills — lots of other skills we can add on top, depending on our field. But no matter what field we’re in, these eight traits will be
at the heart of our success. (Applause)


  1. Brian MFP says:

    He got great articulation

  2. Mattaku Bodimasen says:

    Tbh I got kinda weirded out by the lame jokes from the beginning..
    And the audience looks like they were fake-laughing..

  3. reyhan gedik says:

    keşke kısa yoldan baarı olsak ama çalışmadan çabalamadan olmayacak işte : D

  4. Saloni Bhide says:

    Did someone hack Ted-ed's YouTube account to post this?

  5. stronzio666 says:


  6. Cathy says:

    Such an amazing talk, thank you ?

  7. Delusion Engine says:

    All 7 continents, times have changed sir. Welcome to Zealandia, 8th continent… boom.

  8. Chandan Dalapati says:

    I also felt it…

  9. Serhat Tülek says:

    Interviewed Careers is listed
    Could not see Engineers in that silly sort of stuff
    Closed the video

  10. Cedric Rossi says:

    The bigger trait of successful people is to not watch this kind of videos, if you’re watching that seriously and taking into account what it’s said in it, you’re probably weak

  11. Benigno Paraisu says:

    Now that is a demotivator, i don't have any of those 8s in me….. ?

  12. Hardik Kardam says:

    Maybe most important thing is you don't care much about other people

  13. Trash viewer says:

    Ohoho. No. It is at least 9. The ninth is a luck. Factors outside of one's control. And it's importance may vary depending on field of your chosing. Also why hide dislikes?

  14. astralips says:

    All of these traits are basically the same thing omg why did I watch a whole video about this?

  15. Abhay Kumar Singh says:

    That man begin the video like a stand up comedian !

  16. LYJManchesterUnited says:

    Am I the only one who like this video ?

  17. PM 3736 says:

    So how to acquire those traits

  18. humanity in peril says:

    Misleading video….reported

  19. Nauman Shaukat says:

    him mentioning TRUMP, spoiled it for me. Trump is a con artist and it shows that we value success in cash. And for that you need to be a lucky person to be born to wealthy parents. As they say money begets money.

  20. abhijeet sarathe says:

    and 9 ..they still die

  21. Bhavdeep Jhally says:


  22. Rizwan Liaqat says:

    Ahmmm…. Well…. yea he was lying. He IS a motivational speaker.

  23. Piyush Jain says:

    he is cheating people to be successful, By advertising himself.

  24. Our Story says:

    The video begin in 6:08
    Thank me later.

  25. stella x says:

    just living a mark here 6:10

  26. Symphuzic Bey says:

    Don't mind the laugh track and audience. I didn't notice anyway. Can't believe people are annoyed by that but i enjoyed the little inspiration though. ?

  27. thumbbull says:

    You are a success Richard St. John for staying married while getting no sympathy from your wife at Kilimanjaro. Kudos!

  28. Von Lance says:

    Yep I don’t have any of them.

  29. ANKIT SINGH says:

    I have this book and believe me it's awesome

  30. Okba Cherboub says:

    Before success, define the success

  31. spicher says:

    " What I try to be is an informational speaker"

    gotta keep trying. by the way, it may seem crazy but follow me here, the best way getting to be one will involve:

    hard work, focus, self pushing, coming up with good ideas, improving, serving others, and.. wait for it… persisting until you succeed!

     Richard St. John: omg! where did you get those?? now i have 16 traits! gotta rewrite this whole speech now. thanks man!

  32. I34anbulunRuhu says:

    I hate his tone of voice

  33. slawek jack'opetus says:

    kind of obvious..

  34. shravya rao says:

    worth 7 minutes of my life ?

  35. Dremurian The Culprit says:

    Bill Gate goes first on the list

  36. たっつん says:


  37. Даниель Гарсия says:

    1. Born rich.

  38. Kmrn Ria says:

    Saw this video
    Go to chrome
    Typed what is the meaning of trait

  39. Go Drive says:

    I d watched it befor,but i dont realize till the end

  40. Thai Hang says:

    It is very useful. We should enjoy our job.

  41. TheProgrammingJedi says:

    move your self doubts out of the way and start living your life. succes will come.

  42. Michael Jones says:

    So general advices, nothing new

  43. Andrew O'Brien says:

    Fake laugh is so unnecessary

  44. ジュン says:

    Who cares
    Successful People doesn't need motivation.
    See I can't even spelling without autocorrect.

  45. Andrei Paun says:

    I was not the girl who sit near him in airplane

  46. ka r says:

    I have my own formula for success :)))

  47. Stephen Nidea says:

    Very well said sir.

  48. Юный Сталкер says:

    Thank you very much,it is help to me

  49. 9robin3 says:

    What annoys me is that "success" is something people need to live…Whatever is success. No one can answer this

  50. monaso9 says:

    This dude is just bragging and playing humble

  51. David Kennedy says:

    Isn't success relative ?

  52. Lord bobby says:

    If it was bright side i would've ignored…but its ma boi ted-ed

  53. Jetto says:


  54. A Modgil says:

    Mega mega mega mega mega bad

  55. Hythel says:

    He reminds me of the “oh hi mark” guy from the room

  56. Chaos Z says:

    Why didn’t they get Ted himself to talk about success?

  57. Bhupendar Singh Chauhan says:

    Exactly at 6:00 I saw the most beautiful creation of God. She is more beautiful than any other thing.

  58. Jesús Emilio Barreto Cedeño says:

    I love your talks.

  59. Austin Adams says:

    This has to be the worst video I have ever seen! I expected a lot more from a TED video!! I'd type a longer comment but I'm sick of listening to this!!

  60. Anju Swarup says:

    Ted is good at lying-

  61. Siddharth Adhav says:

    This was the best I have watched so far about HOW to be SUCCESSFUL…

  62. XG XG says:

    Exciting Lucky CEO

  63. Kaneki Ken says:

    6:31 Thank me later (✷‿✷)

  64. E. F. says:

    Wth why does it look and sound so fake?!

  65. berlymbb says:


  66. Geovany Lizarraga says:

    Wtf Ted!! This video sucks!!

  67. My Turkish Life says:

    The Successful person is the one with the biggest smile on there face..

  68. tizzy kitty says:

    https://youtu.be/NOl0v54DaXo?t=267 push through the self-doubt. in other words, 'fake it til you make it.' why not. you only have 1 life

  69. Melvin Veneracion says:

    I agree.. this is really bad. It didn't moved me at all! I mean Is that it? I feel bad about the content the speaker has said. Inauthentic, dispassionate, truly bad.

  70. HostileToaster says:

    1. Used fake laugh / clap tracks
    2. Used a fake and cliche story to set the stage
    3. Said something along the lines of "I'm not supposed to tell everyone how rich I am," then proceeded to brag about his wealth and accomplishments that did not add anything meaningful to the speech
    4. Used the cliche of "barely passed high school but now I'm rich" without even making an effort to explain how exactly this happened or even how he became a millionaire in the first place
    5. Claimed to have spent thousands of hours to generate a list of the most generic character traits of successful people that could be found on google within 10 seconds
    6. Video just ends without any further ellaboration (or any indication that he took things like survivorship bias into account for that matter.)

    Summary: 7 minutes of fake laugh / clap traps and irrelevant information followed by 20 seconds of him listing off the 8 most generic traits shared by successful people.

  71. JustMe 101 says:

    This is a terrible video. I didn’t like the aesthetics and the audience laughing was just cringey.

  72. Yvonne Hsu says:

    There is a quote from The Great Gatsby "Whenever you feel like to criticize people, remember they do not have the privilege you have" In the world of capitalism, materialistic success is all we try to pursue. The more we have, the more successful we are. The 8 traits of being successful is quite true or else it won't be mentioned again and again throughout these years. These 8 traits can only be applied on learning or master one particular profession. But it can't not guarantee you having big house, fancy car, beautiful and kind partner, and lovely family relationship. The rich(material) doesn't always have these things. And the poor(material) doesn't always lost these things. It's true that some people had achieved great success because their family is rich. And some achieved success without rich parents or ancestors. The point is that how did their family get rich? Born to be rich with large amount of heritage, or they just rob or lie to other people, or they worked so hard to save every little money and invest? As the law of economics, we need learn how to manage what we have since "the resource is limited".

  73. Vibin Golden says:


  74. TheOmerdogan says:

    This is a bad video

  75. sourav goswami says:


  76. Dhananjay dixit says:

    Trait no.1 – they don't watch such vids on YouTube

  77. Manatax8537 Implosion says:

    It's odd I've never heard of Ted ED untill there was a sub on music class

    Then after that one video I thought hmmm this Ted ED it's interesting

  78. francheska says:

    i love this guy <3

  79. From Far East says:

    i just read 8 traits of stressful people

  80. Punch Hard says:

    Now, go interview 100 unsuccessful people. Most of those unsuccessful people would also have followed these same points, yet they would have failed. Studies show over 80% businesses close down within 2 years of opening. Why?

    The world just follows the winning horse! And keeps eulogising it.

    Write another book and make more money ???

  81. Shiv Jhawar says:

    Video starts at 6:15

  82. Olga Sergeyeva says:

    He didn't talk to any archiologists.

  83. FamosUtoober says:


  84. Anonymus 321 says:

    Wtf I watched this whole thing just for the last 10 seconds

  85. Ali İhsan Elmas says:


  86. Donnie Freymoyer says:

    You forgot greed

  87. Tora Blaze says:

    Very nice video, true to the point.

  88. Tora Blaze says:

    That's very true!!! Yay

  89. PAHADI SAVAGE says:

    Saw a summery comment

    Still watched full video

  90. The Mellow Lyfe says:

    Maybe they were testing their video formats with this one lol. Still, I found the video very informative.

  91. Maz Jø says:

    People saying it is fake audience, fake clapping and fake laughing. It doesnt even matter. We were just here to listen, right?

  92. Brandon Carrizales says:

    Why did you missed asking to ENGINEERS? It could have been easier… You know, the men's sitting on the Olympus, greek gods haha 😛

  93. Sara Grimaldi says:

    Talk about success; the actual part about success is 1m at the end 🙂

    Gotta love when those rich guys show up on TED to give those life-shattering lessons.

    "how did I get there? I don't know". Yep, that is exactly the same answer that 90% of rich people and entrepreneur could give; because in the end, success is to be in the right place, at the right time, with the right answers. Miss any of those, and you end like the famous failures that populate our history.

  94. Eric K says:

    Add those who aren’t watching this video

  95. Aaisha QwertyQawerty says:

    شكرا على الترجمة العربية .??

  96. Khalid Alduraibi says:

    The ninth treat is to not put fake laughs on your video

  97. Knight of Christianity says:

    8 traits of success are:

  98. Ali salha says:

    very amazing
    good job

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