How to Be Successful

Posted on Jun 5, 2021

These are the notes that I’ve taken from the Sam Altman’s article on How to be successful. He explains everything in a beautiful manner and I really love it.

13 thoughts about how to achieve outlier success:

1. Compound yourself

  • Compounding is magic. Look for it everywhere. Exponential curves are the key to wealth generation.
  • As your career progresses, each unit of work you do should generate more and more results.
  • The biggest competitive advantage in business - either for a company or for an individual’s career - is long - term thinking with a broad view of how different systems in the world are going to come together.
  • In a world where almost no one takes a truly long-term view, the market richly rewards those who do.

2. Have almost too much self-belief

  • Cultivate this early. As you get more data points that your judgement is good and you can consistently deliver results, trust yourself more.
  • Self-belief must be balanced with self-awareness.

3. Learn to think independently

  • One of the most powerful lessons to learn is that you can figure out what to do in situations that seem to have no solution.

4. Get good at “sales”

  • Self-belief alone is not sufficient - you also have to be able to convince other people of what you believe.
  • Getting good at communication - particularly written communication - is an investment worth making.
  • Getting good at sales is like improving at any other skill - anyone can get better at it with deliberate practice.

5. Make it easy to take risks

  • Taking risks is important because it’s impossible to be right all the time - you have to try many things and adapt quickly as you learn more.
  • It’s often easier to take risks early in your career; you don’t have much to lose, and you potentially have a lot to gain.

6. Focus

  • Focus is a force multiplier on work.
  • You will rarely find a slow-moving person who is very successful.

7. Work hard

  • Working a lot comes with huge life trade-offs, and it’s perfectly rational to decide not to do it. But it has a lot of advantages. As in most cases, momentum compounds, as success begets success.
  • You have to figure out how to work hard without burning out.

8. Be bold

  • Follow your curiosity. Things that seem exciting to you will often seem exciting to other people too.

9. Be willful

  • Ask for what you want. You usually won’t get it, and often the rejection will be painful. But when this works, it works surprisingly well.
  • To be willful, you have to be optimistic - hopefully this is a personality trait that can be improved with practice.

10. Be hard to compete with

  • Most people do whatever most people they hang out with do. This mimetic behaviour is usually a mistake - if you’re doing the same thing everyone else is doing, you will not be hard to compete with.

11. Build a network

  • One of the best ways to build a network is to develop a reputation for really taking care of the people who work with you.
  • Hire complementary team members instead of just hiring people who are good at the same things you are.

12. You get rich by owning things

  • You get truly rich by owning things that increase rapidly in value. This can be a piece of business, real estate, natural resource, intellectual property, or other similar things. But somehow or other, you need to own equity in something, instead of just selling your time. Time only scales linearly.

13. Be internally driven

  • The most successful people I know are primarily internally driven; they do what they do to impress themselves and because they feel compelled to make something happen in the world.