TED – Richard St. John’s 8 Secrets Of Success

Richard St. John’s 8 secrets of success

You are going to view a presentation from Ted.com.

TED = Technology Entertainment Design.

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.


1. Questions:

1.     What is the secret to success?

2.     Who is the most successful person that you actually know ?

3.     How important is success to you?

4.     What characteristics do you need to be successful ?

5.     Which famous successful person do you admire?

2.  Vocab & Phrases: Do you know these words?

cut down –

succeed – verb

success – noun

successful – adjective

pass it on –

TED-sters –

I figured –

put your nose down in something

and get damn good at it


a privilege

You gotta –

Bucks –

Crap –

3. You are going to watch a full presentation from www.ted.com

This listening is for general comprehension. Please try to take notes.


Please try and answer as many questions as possible.

  1. What 8 words does he talk about?
  2. Which 4 words mean C.R.A.P. ?
  3. How many interviews did he do in the survey?

4. You are going to listen & watch to the presentation again but this time with the transcript from the presentation. (subtitles are available from the website)

Richard St. John’s 8 secrets of success

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! 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 gonna tell you what really leads to success and makes TED-sters tick.

And the first thing is passion. Freeman Thomas says, “I’m driven by my passion.” TED-sters 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! TED-sters do have fun working. And they work hard. I figured, 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 gotta push through shyness and self-doubt.

Goldie Hawn says, “I always had self-doubts. I wasn’t good enough, I 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. (Laughter) Frank Gehry — Frank Gehry said to me, “My mother pushed me.” Serve! 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. Because that’s the way people really get rich.”

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. 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.” (Laughter) So, the big — the answer to this question is simple: Pay 4,000 bucks 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 TED-sters for all your interviews!

Time 3:33


  1. Is your mother “pushy”?
  2. Where did he find the motivation for this presentation?
  3. Are you a workaholic? Can you think of other “holic” words?
  4. What is the most important word for you?
  5. What are your top 3 words and why?

5. Discussion

For you, which are the most important factors?

How does the American attitude to success differ from the Spanish attitude?

Discuss this statement: Ideas are everything.

6. Post class work

This presentation from Ted.com is available with subtitles and we suggest listening 1 time with subtitles and then another time with the English transcript on the right hand side. Make notes of unknown words and phrases and try to guess their meaning from context.

Email question: From the presentation, in which way do people “really get rich”?.

7. Please use the following words & phrases from the vocab section in the following sentences:

cut down , success, successful, pass it on , I figured , shyness

a privilege, you gotta , bucks –

  1. I am trying to ___________ on the amount of alcohol I drink at the weekends.
  2. After looking at the situation for a long time, ____________ the best action was to take no action.
  3. To be _______________ we must work very hard and have some luck.
  4. I´m happy that you enjoyed the book, please _____________ to someone else when you have finished.
  5. Richard Branson found huge ___________ in the airline industry.
  6. ____________ try this American apple pie, its simple delicious.
  7. It was a real ____________ to visit the Sagrada Familia
  8. Wow ! The newest Ferrari costs a million $________ !!!!

8. Using the new vocab from the above sections discuss the following statements.

a). The first job that I ever had

b).  Books and knowledge should be passed on and not kept to yourself.

c). The use of American words , phrases and pronunciation in your English.

About Author


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


access Free Online Course

The 5 Day English Challenge