Richard St. John spent 10 years interviewing 500 successful people for a project to determine what made them successful. In this video, he attempts to share that information in just 3 minutes.



What makes someone tick – an idiom; means what makes a person behave a certain way

Privilege – a special right or advantage

Workaholic – a person who works too much

Crap – junk, stuff, annoyances

Asshole – someone you dislike (this is a swear word)

Buck – slang for a dollar



Watch the video and answer the following questions. (Answers are below.)

  1. Richard St. John got the idea for his project from:
    1. Years of hard research
    2. A high school girl on a plane
    3. Speaking to successful people
    4. Giving lectures to high school students
  2. Which of the following did he not mention as contributing to success:
    1. Money
    2. Concentration
    3. Creativity
    4. Passion
  3. To overcome self-doubt, we should:
    1. Focus on our work
    2. Hold on to our dream
    3. Encourage and force ourself forward
    4. Do something useful for society
  4. What is the most important factor for gaining success?
    1. Passion
    2. Pressure
    3. Practice
    4. Persistence
  5. Creativity comes from:
    1. Studying hard
    2. Doing simple things
    3. Getting a good education
    4. Intending to do something of value


In the video, Richard St. John mentions many successful people. Listen for these names and note down what the people said about success.

  1. Freeman Thomas ____________________________________
  2. Norman Jewison ____________________________________
  3. Frank Gehry ________________________________________
  4. Joe Kraus __________________________________________


Here’s an example of an IELTS writing task about success:

You should spend about 40 minutes on this task.

People succeed because of their hard work; luck has nothing to do with success.

Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

Write at least 250 words.

And here is a sample answer:

Some people believe that success is achieved solely through hard work, and that luck has nothing to do with it. This notion is attractive to people who want to believe that anything is possible through hard work, but it is not entirely true. Luck plays an important role in anyone’s life.

Firstly, it seems obvious that success cannot always be achieved through hard work. If that were true, the world would look very different today. Looking around us, we can clearly see people toiling in fields and factories, struggling to raise families in the face of adversity. These people obviously work very hard, yet they are not successful because they have unfortunate circumstances. In other words, they are unlucky.

Whether we like to admit it or not, lucky plays a significant role in all of our lives. Considerations such as nationality, gender, and race are in fact matters of luck. No one chooses how they will be born, and yet these affect us through our lives. Some people are born into poverty or disability or discrimination. They may have to work twice as hard as others and still not achieve success in their lives. On the other hand, some people are born with privilege. Perhaps they are wealthy, or even just born into a loving, caring family. This gives them some competitive advantages in life over other people.

In conclusion, it is wishful thinking that anyone can simply work their way to success. Of course, hard work is a vital component, but some lives will always be easier than others. It is not fair, but it is the nature of life.

Word count: 271



  • B
  • A
  • C
  • D
  • B


  • “I’m driven by my passion.”
  • “I think it all has to do with focusing yourself on one thing.”
  • “My mother pushed me.”
  • “Persistence is the number one reason for our success.”