16 Differences Between Successful and Unsuccessful People

A few weeks ago, Dave Kerpen of Likeable Local received a postcard about successful vs unsuccessful people from a fellow entrepreneur Andy Bailey, chief executive of Petra Coach. Though the two man have never met in person, Kerpen said in his blog post that the postcard had a "profound effect" on his viewpoints on what sets successful people apart from others.

Kerpen wrote in his blog post that Bailey's postcard sixteen differences between successful and unsuccessful people "[reinforced] values I believe in and [reminded] me on a daily basis of the attitudes and habits that I know I need to embrace in order to become successful."

These 16 differences are:

Successful People Unsuccessful People
1. Embrace change Fear change
2. Want others to succeed Secretly hope others fail
3. Exude joy Exude anger
4. Accept responsibility for their failures Blame others for their failures
5. Talk about ideas Talk about people
6. Share data & info Hoard data & info
7. Give people all the credit for their victories Take all the credits from others
8. Set goals and life plans Do not set goals
9. Keep a journal Say they keep a journal but don't
10. Read every day Watch TV every day
11. Operate from a transformational perspective Operate from a transactional perspective
12. Continuously learn Fly by the seat of their pants
13. Compliment others Criticize others
14. Forgive others Hold a grudge
15. Keep a "To Be" list Don't know what they want to be
16. Have gratitude Don't appreciate others and the world around them

Kerpen explained each of these differences in his blog post, but number 15 "Keep a 'To Be' list" struck me as brilliant.


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I think a lot of calls to read more comes from the idea that reading improves your writing, communication and language skills. I don't have citations on hand, but remember several studies showing even trashy reading can improve such skills. The linked article suggests it for education as there still is a lot more information available in written form than in video form (especially if one doesn't want to count online videos in "TV"). Either way, it doesn't seem to be a judgment of the quality of story telling available in either medium.
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Anyone who takes personal advice from an infographic deserves what they get. Where is the part about hard work, short term sacrifices for long term goals, or retaining a personal support structure?
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I challenge the assertion that reading is inherently better for you than TV. A story is a story, regardless of how you package it. Likewise, garbage is garbage. Both mediums have their pros and cons with how you tell and receive the story, but a competent writer can overcome and embrace the nuances of their chosen medium. The distinction between reading and watching is therefore rather trivial to me. Almost like tossing a fish to a clapping seal, rewarding a cheap trick.

Now if you want to talk about specific shows and books, I can produce a Twilight for every Jerry Springer you can name. They both have their high points and they both have their low, low points.

Full disclosure: I watch TV, read fiction and non and also write
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In the past, I've been pushed toward keeping a journal. Nope. If I want my thoughts to stay private, I don't write them down.

But the rest are good. I like #2 in particular. One thing that I've been deliberately doing over the past few years is trying to help co-workers achieve their goals. In some work environments, that's dangerous. But it works where I am now.

The "To Be" list idea is interesting. I'll think about that one.
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