Richard St John: 8 secrets to success

Why do people succeed? Is it because they’re smart? Or are they just lucky? Neither. Analyst Richard St. John condenses years of interviews into an unmissable 3-minute slideshow on the real secrets of success.


Watch the TED talk, listen carefully and answer the questions below:

Comprehension Questions


  1. Where did it all start?


  1. How many interviews did he do?


  1. Who said work was fun?


  1. Who pushed Frank Gehry?


  1. How many big things lead to success?





Watch the video again from 00:12 to 00:37 and fill in the blanks:


This is really a two-hour (6) _________ I give to high school students, (7) _____ down to three minutes. And it all started one day on a plane, on my way to TED, seven years ago. And in the seat next to me was a high school student, a (8) __________ and she came from a really (9) ______ family. And she wanted to make something of her life, and she asked me a simple little question. She said, “What leads to success?” And I felt really badly, because I couldn’t give her a good (10) _________.



True or False?


Listen to the material again and answer true or false to the following statements:


  1. Freeman Thomas says “I’m driven by success”.


12.Carol Coletta says, “I would pay someone to do what I do”.


  1. Rupert Murdoch has a lot of fun.


  1. Goldie Hawn always knew she’d make it.


  1. A lot of kids want to be billionaires.



Here’s a question from the IELTS Speaking Part 3:

Describe something you did in your life that was a success.
You should say

– what you did
– when you did it
– what difficulties you faced
– and how you felt when you were successful



  1. on a plane
  2. 500
  3. Rupert Murdoch
  4. his mother
  5. 8
  6. presentation
  7. cut
  8. teenager
  9. poor
  10. answer

11 (F) he is driven by passion

12 (T)

  1. (T)
  2. (F) she didn’t think she’d make it

15 (F) they want to be millionaires

Author: David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs and the 'Weird Cult' and the founder/editor of Beatdom literary journal. He lives and works in rural China, and loves to travel. He has worked as an IELTS tutor since 2010, has completed both TEFL and CELTA courses, and has a certificate from Cambridge for Teaching Writing. In 2018, he wrote the popular IELTS handbook, Grammar for IELTS Writing. His other IELTS website is called IELTS Teaching.

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