The Three Secrets to Success

Hi All,

Today I'm going to share with you the three secrets to success.

The Three Secrets to Success

The first secret to success is to say yes

As Richard Branson put it: "If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”

Both my experiences and our research at


have taught me that capability (IQ, skills, knowledge etc.) is normally distributed:


In other words, most of us (the 68.2% in the middle of the graph) have average knowledge about most everything in life:


However, if you take the trouble to learn a little more about a topic than most people, you can quickly get here:


In this zone, with just a little extra effort, you already know more about a topic than c. 85% of people, which is enough to make you a trusted source.

And if you learn a little more, it won't take long before you find yourself in this zone:


In other words, with just a little more effort, you can learn more about a topic than c. 98% of people, which will make you an expert.

The second secret to success is to learn and do just a little more than everyone else, every day

Why? It is because unlike knowledge and performance, success isn't normally distributed. It follows an exponential, power law distribution:


In other words, with 2x effort, you get 4x success, with 3x effort, you get 9x success, with 4x effort, you get 16x success.

How much time are you spending on the phone every week? Maybe an hour? Double that, and you'll get not twice, but four times better results.

How much time are you spending every day to learn about your industry, your clients and your candidates? Double that, and you'll be not twice, but four times as knowledgeable in their eyes compared to your competition, even if in reality it only takes an extra 10-15 minutes every day.

Life is ridiculously unfair in that way.

Usain Bolt is not even twice as fast as I am on 100 meters, and spends maybe only about 10 times as much training, and yet he has won hundreds more races and made thousands of times more money than I have.

I'm a little biased of course, but in my estimate, Brad Pitt is only about twice as good looking and 10 times as talented as I am, and yet he has has starred in dozens more films and is thousands of times more popular than I am.

If you want to become an expert in your field, social media can be a great help:

Whatever your topic of choice, spend an extra 10-15 minutes reading about it every day -- those long commutes in Tokyo will make you an expert in no time!

The third secret to success is to say no

That is why you need to apply power law distributions to your work as well:


At any point in time -- every quarter, every week, every day -- there are dozens of things you could potentially spend your time doing.

But only 2-3 of these are really important.

To be successful, you must focus 


 of your energy on these 2-3 things.

Which are the top 2-3 roles in your portfolio that you need to focus on this week? Who are your top 2-3 clients or candidates that you need to call today? What are the top 2-3 features you need to build in the next sprint?

To achieve above average performance and exponential success, you must learn to focus on what matters, and politely say no to the rest.

So today, what are you going to say yes to? What will you become an expert at this month? And what are you going to say no to?

These are the most important decisions you will make.

All the best,