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What does it take to be successful?

As you might know already, one of my passions is to help people become successful in all areas of their lives.
I received an email from one of my mentors, Tai Lopez, and thought I should share it with you.
Parts of the email are reproduced below.

“You know, there’s all this talk about what it takes to become successful. You want to know what a scientist said?

University of Pennsylvania found the number one trait associated with actual success is conscientiousness.

I probably get around 10,000 DM’s a day on Instagram. Most of them are something like, “something’s wrong, and I want it to be better, but I don’t like my life, and I don’t like how much money I make.”

I feel bad for the situation, but I’m going to tell you this. Here’s the deal:

People aren’t conscientious. If you’re not conscientious, there’s nothing anybody can do for you. You can read all the books you want in the world. You can do all that, but you need to be conscientious.

What I mean by conscientious, is attention to detail. There’s actually five subcategories of conscientiousness. If you don’t have conscientiousness, you might as well give up right now, literally. Nothing will work out. You can start your own business all you want, but you’re just going to crash and burn. You can do a new year’s resolution. You can commit yourself to a diet. It ain’t happening. Not if you aren’t conscientious.

What is conscientiousness?

Look, there’s five main factors. Industriousness, perfectionism, organization, diligence and prudence. That’s what scientists found. There’s a five-facet test, so let me run these through really quick.


Which of these five facets are most important? In this context, I’m going to say perfectionism. Perfectionism is often thought about as a negative thing, but is it really? You get on an airplane. What kind of pilot do you want flying that plane? What kind of engineer did you want building that engine? Do you want a conscientious one, one who pays attention to details or someone who goes, “Oh, I don’t sweat the small stuff?” Well, if you don’t sweat the small stuff, you crash and die. That’s the world we live in now where people don’t sweat the small stuff, and their business crashes or dies. Their life, their hopes and dreams crash and die. Sometimes, you just got to pay attention to details.

I can’t tell you how many people don’t pay attention.

I had over 75 people a couple years ago and I said, “I’m going to take on an apprentice. I’ll take on an apprentice.” They come over on the first day, and I would do a little test. This was before I actually hired them. Simple stuff, like I took a hose, and I had it unravelled. They walked by. Only one person noticed and rolled it up nicely and put it away, and that’s the person I paid attention to because this guy has attention to detail, and like the University of Pennsylvania study shows, conscientiousness, attention to detail, industriousness, organization, perfectionism, diligence, prudence is positively correlated, directly related to you making more money.

Now, people don’t tell us this message, but I’m telling you the truth right now. If you can’t pay attention to detail, if you’re just, “Oh, Tai, I’m a big picture person. I’m ADD.” Well, you’re going to be a broke person. Be whatever you want, but don’t come whining when you can’t figure out what’s wrong.


You know, some people can’t be organized enough to sit in a chair. People say, “Oh, Tai, you read a book a day. How do you do that?” Well, you got to be organized. You got to be able to sit in a chair 10 minutes a day focused, in an organized fashion. “Okay. This is the time of the day that I do this basically every day.” Sometimes, it changes. That takes organizational power. Being able to put together a to-do list and organize it in the right order, because you’re not going to get to all the lists. You got to do the priorities first. That’s hard for people. Why? I don’t know. It really isn’t that hard.


The next trait is diligence. The average person who sets a new year’s resolution on the first of January, has given up by the 30th of January because they have no staying power. Diligence is staying power. Who can stick it out? It’s like who can stick it out when the going gets tough? Most people can’t. They got no diligence.


Prudence is the ability to make good decisions. Some people, whenever they should go left in life, they go right. Whenever they should go right, they go left. They’re always crashing and burning because they have no ability to think through, “What would a smart person do?” To me, that’s what prudence is. You pretend there’s someone smarter than you sitting in that room, and you ask yourself, “What the heck would that smart person do?”

There was this guy over here at the house.

He said to me, “Tai, I’m building an app.” He wanted my advice on making more money.

I said, “Well, why don’t you test the app, see if it works?”

“I already put a million dollars into building the app before I even launched it.” He says.

“Have you ever launched an app before?” I asked him.

“No.” He tells me.

“Well, have you ever made money before?”

“No.” He says.

“Why the hell would you drop a million when you can make a working app to test the concept to see if anybody will buy it before you sink your whole million?” I told him.

He spent all of his money on it. I told him he could have probably done that for 10 or 20 grand, then see if anybody wants it, but see, that takes a prudent person who thinks, “What would a smart person do in this situation?” Would a smart person jump ahead first into something, drop one million dollars, their whole life savings before it’s even tested? No. Only an idiot does that. You know the saying, an idiot and their money are soon parted.


Industriousness is the ability to work hard. Now, working hard isn’t everything, I talk a lot about this. It’s not the only answer because you got to work smart. It’s a multifaceted thing. That’s what I was talking about with consciousness. Industriousness, perfectionism, organization, diligence and prudence. It’s multi-factor, but at some point, once you know what you’re doing, you see the path. You’re organized. You’re paying attention to detail. Sometimes, you got to be able to put your head down and just put in long hours, but I want to say, some people think just putting in long hours, just grinding, just working hard makes you successful. It doesn’t. Trust me.

It’s a combination of traits, and most people, like I said, it’s hard to fix stupid. Some people are too stupid to understand. I’m not trying to be mean or pick on people, but they’ll argue with you on something that should be common sense. “No, it’s working hard that makes you money.”It’s multifaceted.

It’s like playing basketball. You can’t just know how to shoot free throws. You got to know how to dribble, play defense, rebound, pass the ball. You got to understand how to remember plays. Every sport is multifaceted, but people, when it comes to success, they want one thing. A very common question I get is, “What’s the one thing I need to be successful?” Well, I just gave it to you. Be more conscientious, which breaks down into five sub facets.

Stay Strong. ”

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  1. You make some excellent points and they apply really well to the world of creative writing and publishing. I think of it as “Don’t get off the bus”. It’s not just the hard work, it’s choosing the right bus to get you to the right destination. Then it’s paying the exact bus fare. Then it’s staying on the bus and not getting off early. Great article. Very helpful.

  2. This is absolutely correct, but such a long read Cynthia, or admin, or who ever. Sometimes it is okay to break down a concept, expounding a little more on it , than to shove all five processes into one lesson.
    The funniest part of the post was that it revolves around being conscientious, yet deters from maintaining one’s attentions long enough to grasp it.
    I love business, and marketing, and always want people to do well and become successful, which is why I teach the psychology of selling.
    I just finished school in 2016 and was surprised as the graduates leaving with me had no idea how consumers think, except for themselves. And I think that is always a good place to start.
    But seeing’s how consumers are not contentious either, meaning they do not investigate their options and acquire accountability for their decisions, most are selling to the blind. Isn’t that ironic, the blind leading the blind.

    I hope I have not offended anyone on the staff, especially the beautiful name of Cynthia Weirr.

    • Thanks for your comment @philipbrockman. I’m glad you read the post. Lots of people liked it. You know what they say…..different strokes for different folks.

  3. I truly enjoyed your insights into this subject. As an entrepreneur in internet marketing this falls in line with my company’s founder, JR Ridinger. He has laid the foundation and the steps to follow through to success. He always says, “the person who succeeds just does what the person who fails was not willing to do”. The millionaires in the company have proven this again and again.

  4. Excellent points. I had a similar theory when I was working and mentoring my staff before I retired. My employer spent a ton of time building our annual performance objectives. I told my staff their job description and goals could all be summarized in one goal…”Give a S—” Kind of the definition of conscientiousness. Too many people look for the short cuts and ways to avoid putting in the effort to achieve their goals and then wonder why they do not succeed.

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