What Drives Highly Successful People?

Have you ever wondered, what’s the difference between regular guys like you & me and self-made, ultra-successful people?

Last night, I stumbled upon an article at inc.com I’d like to share here, because it might give you an answer to this question:

Ultra-successful people view life differently from us, and its reflected in how they live, work, save, invest, and give.

They think big

Ultra-successful people look at problems and think about big solutions. They don’t look for incremental ways to solve minor problems, or shy away from big challenges because they look too difficult, or require too much risk.

Venture capitalist and Skype or Tesla investor Tim Draper (who is visiting Romania this week) hit this point on the head at a recent lunch, where he explained to young entrepreneurs that he only invests in people solving huge problems, because only major issues lead to real change and incredible opportunities.

They bring the best talent around them

If you’re running a start up and pitch investors for support to grow, then this might help: Katherine O’Neill, Executive Director of Jumpstart Investors – a private, member-lead angel group that invests in early-stage technology companies – often says of founders: “do they want to be king or do they want to be successful?

A desire to be surrounded by great talent, rather than be king of an unsuccessful and sycophantic sandbox, often separates those who truly are successful from those who merely wish to be.

They take huge but calculated risks

Calculated risk is very different from gambling. Often, you read that ultra-successful people “take risks,” which is true but often belies the deeper truth: they are clear eyed about assessing the challenges, risks, and benefits and then are willing to take the risk if it is worth it.

Steve Jobs is a perfect example. In the late 1990s, it was a huge risk to return to Apple, and risk his reputation – again – on the company that had unceremoniously thrown him out and was on the edge of collapse. But Jobs assessed the risks, decided he could turn it around, and dove in headfirst.

They execute

Being ultra-successful requires being good at follow through. You can’t just have great ideas, or be a great talker. Most ultra-successful people are capable not only of having good ideas and identifying opportunities, but galvanizing others behind them.

They read

Great minds like to read what other great minds think, and do, and learn from them. The first lesson that one ultra-successful person taught me years ago was: “sure, I know what I don’t know, but I want to learn as much of it as possible – and there are others who can teach it to me.” Ultra-successful people are life-long learners and respect the knowledge others have in their domains and what they can learn. The mantra among most I know is: ‘if you know everything, you learn nothing.”

They negotiate hard – but smart

There is an old adage that wealthy people didn’t make it by spending it. This is certainly true. Although many ultra-successful people are incredibly philanthropic and generous of time and money, in business they tend to be shrewd negotiators with great attention to detail. Indeed, as they grow more successful, this tendency appears to increase, rather than lessen, despite their reduced need to sweat the details.

They have routines

Most ultra-successful people have clear, repeatable routines that they can vary when necessary but tend to stick to whenever possible. Continually changing routines upsets the body and creates added stress, which can in turn reduce rest and complicate decision-making. Using routines to increase your comfort level can help increase your success.

They focus on relationships, not transactions

Ultra-successful people, particularly the most successful entrepreneurs, typically develop a relatively small set of highly valued relationships with people they work with again and again. Once mutual trust is built, it becomes much easier to have repeat success together.

Indeed, many of the most successful startup teams have worked together on multiple projects, and went to the same group of investors for each one!

They cluster

Ultra-successful people usually want to be around other people who they feel are similar. Those clusters of individuals then tend to build more meaningful relationships and work together with more frequency and success.

They care

Finally, ultra-successful people know they need to care and have passion to be engaged enough for something to be successful.


I’d like to stick on the topic of ‘success’: In tomorrow‘s post we highlight the benefits of being an entrepreneur, discover the 6 ultra-successful types of entrepreneurs and you’ll find out, what type of entrepreneur you are (or would be).


Once mutual trust is built, it becomes much easier to have repeat success together.

Steve Jobs assessed the risks, decided he could turn Apple around, and dove in headfirst.

Great minds like to read what other great minds think, and do, and learn from them.

Money might be a measure for success, but don’t chase the cash. ‘The interesting thing is: if you do it for love, the money comes anyway‘ says success expert Richard St. John.

winners and losers people

successful people vs unsuccessful


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