21 Very Successful People On What It Takes To Be Successful


“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”

-Marissa Mayer


“Don’t pretend to know everything. I’ve been blessed to work with a lot of veteran actors, and I soak up lessons from them like a sponge.”

– Michael B. Jordan


“Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”

-JK Rowling


“When you’re around enormously successful people you realize their success isn’t an accident – it’s about work.”

-Ryan Tedder


“You have to work harder than you think you possibly can. You can’t hold grudges — it’s hard but you can’t hold grudges. And it doesn’t matter how you get knocked down in life, because that’s gonna happen. All that matters is that you gotta get up.”

– Ben Affleck



“I want to tell any young girl out there who’s a geek, I was a really serious geek in high school. It works out. Study harder.”

-Sheryl Sandberg


“There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do – and I believe that.”

– Derek Jeter


“Colleagues are a wonderful thing – but mentors, that’s where the real work gets done.”

-Junot Diaz


“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.”

– Malcolm Gladwell


“I am who I am, and I’m focused on that, and being a great CEO of Apple.”

– Tim Cook

Tim Cook/AllThingsD
Tim Cook/AllThingsD


“Everyting negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”

– Kobe Bryant


“If you start pandering to young people, you’re going to get accused of simply giving people what they want.”

– Brian Williams


“If there’s specific resistance to women making movies, I just choose to ignore that as an obstacle for two reasons: I can’t change my gender, and I refuse to stop making movies.”

-Kathryn Bigelow


“Whether you come from a council estate or a country estate, your success will be determined by your own confidence and fortitude.”

-Michelle Obama

Wiki: Obama
Wiki: Obama


“I am, as I’ve said, merely competent. But in an age of incompetence, that makes me extraordinary.”

-Billy Joel


“Even as far back as when I started acting at 14, I know I’ve never considered failure.”

– Jennifer Lawrence


“Every time I’ve had a bad performance at an event, I’ve come back more determined and focused.”

– Shaun White


“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

– Oprah Winfrey


“In comedy, the worst thing you could do is get comfortable. That’s why success is the enemy of comedy…I’m never not working on material…ever.”

-Jerry Seinfeld



“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

-Ira Glass


“I’m not afraid to look like an idiot.”

-Anthony Bourdain Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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