Collected Notes on Success and Happiness

This is a collection of thoughts, my own and from the web, on success. The list will grow as I do! :)

Richard St. John (Success Video from TED Conference)

This was a 3-minute video outlining 8 factors leading to success. I organized them into buckets:

  • Do what you love: Passion
  • Determination: Hard work, focus, push yourself, get good
  • Make something useful: Ideas, serve others
  • Keep your chin up: Persist

I really want to highlight the last point: persist in the face of failure and other CRAP:

  • Criticism
  • Rejection
  • Jerks (or another word for a non-nice person)
  • Pressure

This video was also a great example of the 80/20 rule. In 3 minutes you got the gist of the presentation. Would it have been 10-times better if it was 30 minutes long? No.

Can you get more from ten 3-minute videos instead of one 1/2 hour video? Probably.

An unmentioned part of success may be realizing when you’ve hit the point of diminishing returns and knowing when to move on.

Steve Jobs (Stanford graduation speech and video)

Selected quotes from the Full Transcript:

  • You’ve got to find what you love.
  • Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
  • Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
  • Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
    • Note: Very true. It’s human nature, myself included, to not appreciate things until they are gone (or have a credible threat of being taken).

“Music and Life” from Alan Watts

  • “In music, one doesn’t make the end of the composition the point of the composition.”
  • We are motivated by the carrots of grades and success. Elementary > Grade School > High School > College > Grad School > Job
  • When you “get” success at 40, it’s a let-down. A hoax.
  • We think of life as a journey with a destination (success, heaven). But we missed the point. It was a musical thing, we were supposed to sing and dance while music was being played.

Questions & Contributions


  1. “We think of life as a journey with a destination (success, heaven). But we missed the point. It was a musical thing, we were supposed to sing and dance while music was being played.”

    Funny thing I stumbled (literally, Stumble Upon is a great thing) across your blog today. About a week days ago I had this exact realization. It really has made me happier.

    Also, I love your blog. It’s fantastic. Keep up the good work.

  2. Hi Noah, thanks for dropping by, and for the comment. Yeah, it’s so easy to get wrapped in day-to-day activity that you forget the big picture… that movie really struck me. Appreciate the encouragement, I’ll keep blogging :).

  3. What a beautiful blog you’ve built Kalid… Steve Jobs’ graduation speech, Steve Pavlina have been in my collection amongst many others…

    Your ‘Surviving (and thriving) on your own: Know Thyself” reminded me of a saying from my favorite author Wayne Dyer: “When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way.” And I guess you are doing just that… will be coming here more often to read and learn..

  4. Thanks Keshvi, glad you’re enjoying it. Yes, I enjoy dancing so can relate to that quote. Sometimes you just need to enjoy where you are, not constantly wait for the long-off pleasure of where you are going (which like a mirage, sometimes never gets closer). Appreciate the comment.

  5. what a great collection i especially liked “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life” that is so true, most people i know live like their parents/someone else wanted.

  6. Hi Kalid,

    Just stumbled upon your blog while searching for clearer json explanation and found it to be great.

    Great work.Had been to few of authors and ppts buts ur organisation was so cool.

    Nice, clear and best write ups came across.



  7. Hi Manu, thanks for the kind words! I enjoy trying to make things as clear as possible, so I’m really happy you found it useful. Thanks for dropping by.

  8. hi there Kalid, i have seen this blog years ago. and i had bookmarked your page. now i look at the same page, and see that it still is helpful. But you said that you would expand the blog.. and you have not :'(

  9. @Barbaros: Thanks for writing — not sure what you mean by expand? I am planning some more community features but currently the articles are just coming from me ;).

  10. Just stumbled across this great post – amazing!

    I think the example with the music is amazing – surely, the best athletes and musicians strive by living each moment to its fullest – the importance is in the journey, not the destination.

    Surely, this is something that the fields of math and science (not as much professionally, but CERTAINLY, MOST DEFINITELY the school system) can improve on. The meaningful focus is on journey, not destination.

    Thanks, Kalid!

  11. @Stan: Thanks for the comment — I really, really like that music & life video too. Ironically by focusing on enjoying the journey I think you have a better chance of actually reaching your destination.

  12. I have loved this great collection! I have especially liked “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life”…this is very perfect, we have got to live our own lives and achieve personal success in our own journeys for we dont know what the other person’s journey is

  13. I found this web really valuable. I came up here looking for a simple conceptual introduction to Version Control Systems, and ended up finally here reading thoughts about success, XD.

    Regarding to this article, I agree with all the points here, but especially with the ‘passion’ on what you do – I even use the same term when I talk about the things I really enjoy and want to do with my life. I think that its almost -or totally- impossible to succeed on something you don’t love.

    Finally, I just want to mention that I like the topics you write about in the web: programming, math and even this thoughts and advices, and also, the way you make an effort to make them easier to understand -though I’ve already studied many of them before. I’m gonna tell my friends about this site; it’s already on my bookmarks :)

  14. Hi Roberto, thanks for the comment, really appreciate it, and for helping spread the word :).

    I completely agree on the passion, it’s what makes the long slog bearable. Even the things you have passion for can be frustrating at times, and you need something to get you through. Glad you’re enjoying the topic selection, I hope to keep writing.

    Take care,


  15. Kalid,

    You are absolutely amazing. I am struggling to find my passion and accidentally stumbled in to your site. You are not only teaching amazing concepts, you are also influencing lives.


  16. if there is any one who inspired me to become teacher it is you, right now with your inspiration i started to write my own articles on engineering, particularly mechanical concepts which includes strength of materials, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics. your intutions helps me a lot. hope that you will post some thing new in engineering mathematics.

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