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The Difference: Successful People and Losers

A few months ago, members from our Monthly1K course came in-person to a workshop I held in Seattle. We drank whiskey, cried, and reviewed each person’s business.

Everyone was challenged as we spent over 4 hours working businesses like: freelance designer, hangover pills, web hosting and more.

After the workshop, I looked at Anton (Biz-Dev Sumo) and said, “Let’s pick a dream team. If we were starting a business, which person here would we hire?”

Out of everyone, we both chose the same person. #interesting

So what did this one person at the workshop do or say that made Anton and I both instantly want her on our team?

Her attitude was open-minded and she was willing to work hard.

She was always saying, “Does anyone need help? I’m willing to DO anything to help your businesses.”

I subsequently hired her to do some really shitty admin work and scheduling. Most 25 year olds think tasks like that are below them. Surprisingly, she did everything with a great attitude and asked for more work.

How’s your attitude when someone asks for help or when things aren’t working out?

I’m not encouraging you to be an annoyingly fake cheery person. But this winning attitude is what I notice separates the winners from the losers.

With members in Monthly1K, I can instantly tell who’ll be successful in starting a business or not.

Here are 2 common emails I receive. Which do you think is more likely to succeed?

a) hey noah

nothing is working. i tried to sell to 3 friends but they didn’t buy.

what should i do now?

Whining Walter

b) Hey Noah:

The course has been a challenge that’s helped me grow and learn more about myself.

I’ve been trying to sell but I’ve struggled to find something my friends want. To get started, I’m now thinking about offering to help friends and Facebook groups with accounting help for free.

What do you think?

Bad Ass Max

* * *

So what’s the difference between the first and second email?

First, the second person has better grammar 🙂

Second,  they are looking at things as a learning experience, have alternative ideas to succeed and just want confirmation they’re on the right track.

The first person acts like a victim while the second person’s attitude is about the opportunity to get their business really going. It’s been fascinating to see how people, without knowing it, are either setting themselves up for success or failure.

It is this attitude of staying positive, perseverance and not blaming others that helps people succeed.

* * *

Next time you are dealing with something tough or wondering why you aren’t getting what you want, be mindful of your attitude. (When others see the right attitude and that you’ve made a solid investment already you’ll hear more “Yes” and less “No”.)

And that girl who we met in Seattle with the open-minded amazing attitude …. is now hired by AppSumo and making more than double what she was doing in the past.


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29 responses to “The Difference: Successful People and Losers”

April 26, 2016 at 7:25 am

Great stuff, Matt.This is a story that needs to be heard every single Thigvsgakinn. Too many people don’t know it and even fewer understand the message.Also, have a rad Thanksgiving Matt. Thanks for all the support and encouragement this year.

January 7, 2014 at 4:16 pm

First off I have to say that “Bad Ass Max” gets the high five for the positive email!

I’m not that “Bad Ass Max,” but I often refer to myself as Bad Ass Max. lol

I think that success always starts with attitude, regardless of whatever it is you plan on accomplishing. There will always be hurdles, bumps, obstacles, nay sayers as well as brick walls and obstacles along the way, but if your plan on finishing whatever it is you plan on accomplishing than it doesn’t matter.

The bigger the challenge, the larger the reward. The best stories told have ups and downs. Nothing epic is ever achieved with ease.

Great blog post.


December 20, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Give before you receive. Karma has a way of hitting you upside the head, for good and bad 🙂

Seek out others like you – even if you fail, you’ll love having spent the time doing something with people you like rather than people you, um, don’t.

Finally, engage. This world is social – long before “social media” came about.

Aaron M
December 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I coach a lot of guitar teachers and one important distinction I have noticed is whether they follow up or not. For example if I email them a suggestion on how to improve their website or offer a way to attract new students, the successful teachers always email back asking questions or clarifying issues they have. The unsuccessful teachers barely ever reply back and if they do, they ask ‘what other tips do you have?’.
I think the fact that some people are willing to go one step further is what really sets the successful people apart from the others.

December 2, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Successful people wear better shoes. I hear Sperry’s are the way to go.

December 2, 2013 at 11:33 am

No one else is coming to the rescue. It’s up to each one of us to do the best we can into helping others first, and then we will get our rewards. This is how life works, as I thinket.


Thomas Knoll
November 30, 2013 at 12:50 am

Most successful people I know have a delicate balance of:

TENACITY : keeps getting back on the horse
HUMILITY : is willing to learn and accept feedback

Mike Spence
November 27, 2013 at 9:26 am

This HAS to be Arielle. SHE IS AMAZING!!

Jason Grimes
November 26, 2013 at 11:20 pm

I love it and at the same time I don’t get it. You include full blog posts in emails to folks. Most people are unwilling to give full content direct without ads and a bunch of shit and services I don’t need. I get bits of life coaching and wisdom. Would love someway to interact with like minded folks. Keep rocking! Seattle, @jasongrimes

November 26, 2013 at 4:48 pm

ScottyM … yeah. There is an element of trust and knowing with successful people. Or perhaps it’s just confidence in what they know they need to do.


A lot of conversations around how this could work 🙂

November 26, 2013 at 4:44 pm

“Successful people talk less about their ideas upfront, and spend more time making them happen.”

Mick — I think you’re right that successful people devote far more time to action than talk. That said a pattern I have seen is successful people DO talk about their ideas with the belief that they are more likely to get help than harm from unexpected places. It’s the unsuccessful people that keep their plans and ambitions secret from people who otherwise could help them immensely with very little, highly-leveraged effort (an intro phone call, a pointer to a useful resource, a shared experience, or whatever!)

November 26, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Great stuff again Noah. What I struggle the most with is acknowledging and appreciating the progress I make and the success I already have. When I reach a milestone, I have a hard time taping myself on the bakc and say good job! Instead, I look at others and I convince myself that what I accomplished is nothing and I still feel a bit like a loser. I just think it’s hard to be proud of myself.

In a way, it’s good because I always push for the next step. But I could be enjoying the journey more. When I rationally look at the progress I made this year, it’s pretty amazing but I need to feel it more.

Anyway, that was my therapy comment! Thanks 🙂

November 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Successful people talk less about their ideas upfront, and spend more time making them happen.

Unsuccessful people talk more about their ideas upfront, and spend little or no time making them happen.

Duane Adolph
November 26, 2013 at 9:14 am

Hey Noah What’s Up?

Kickass observation. I agree a lot can be told and predicted about a person from their LANGUAGE patterns. For me I have noticed a BIG difference in how Successful vs Non-Successful people answer the question. “WHAT’s UP?”

Successful People Answer the “WHAT’s UP?” question MUCHO differently than non successful people.

Successful People Answer the “What’s Up?” question like this:
– “We’re building 2 new offices over the next year”,
– “I’m moving and grooving, shakin’ and bakin’,
– “I’m going crazy with this project.”

All of these statements are PROACTIVE, Action oriented and future directed. They imply mooovement. LOTS of it.

Here is how Non-Successful Answer the “What’s Up?” question:

-“Not Much”
-“I’m Just Chillin”
– “Just taking it day by day”

YUCK! Stagant. Go nowhere. Dead Language. No real movement is suggested.

A simple observation in language pattern. So Noah, try it out with a couple folks you haven’t seen in a while. Casually askem’ ‘What’s Up??” and see how they answer!

Chris Leiper
November 26, 2013 at 7:16 am

I find that the root to a good attitude is to be grateful!
Always try to think of the good that will come from each situation.

When I’m confronted with a shitty person I literally envision myself giving him/her a hug. It helps me stay positive and feel more in control of my emotions.

One other thing is that I haven’t yet met a successful person who is lazy. Stop playing farmville and start creating!

November 26, 2013 at 3:29 am

Successful people don’t take setbacks,’no’s’ or criticism personally. They only see failure as a stepping stone to success.

Successful – Learn and adapt

Not so successful- moan and talk crap.

November 25, 2013 at 11:24 am

Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Sean Oliver
November 25, 2013 at 9:25 am

Yep. She rocks and will go far.

Alex McClafferty
November 25, 2013 at 9:20 am

On point, Noah.

The recipe for success = positivity, perseverance and taking responsibility for your actions.

Thanks for the Monday morning kickstart, mate!

Rodger Johnson
November 25, 2013 at 8:29 am

Bad attitudes never work. Period.

November 25, 2013 at 7:36 am

I find success a combination of :

1) Focus — successful people have an opinion on where they’re going and exactly what the top few hurdles are keeping them from getting there. Then they focus solely on those hurdles.

2) Perseverance — successful people see setbacks as learning opportunities, and are unwilling to give up trying new approaches to solving their key challenges, except as necessitated by…

3) Adaptability — successful people listen to and react to what their customers, market, and other signals are sending them about their focus areas and their approach to addressing challenges. They strike the balance between a defeatist attitude and realizing when something just isn’t working. Quitting isn’t the end of the world, but knowing when to quit or change course is the toughest balance to strike.

Great email as always Noah!

Leo Neave
November 25, 2013 at 6:55 am

Great post as always.

I do like what you’re saying about the difference between those that are successful and those that are not.

A lot of people provide themselves with a self fulfilling prophecy so if they think they are a loser then they probably are.

I know from other pursuits in my life that I can fight through the pain period to get what I want so this really stood out to me.

Your humble servant,

November 25, 2013 at 6:50 am

@noah – I couldn’t agree more on the impact of a positive mental attitude. I had an experience where I had to train two junior candidates for a position: one was more skilled than the other. However, the key differentiator was that the other had a positive upbeat attitude and a willingness to learn and work hard. Fast forward a year and the upbeat hard-worker had turned into a rising star while the skilled debbie downer got fired. Just goes to show.

Sadly though, as much as I know this, circumstances and people still occasionally manage to pull me out of my happy zone.
I guess I’m still a work in progress.
Thanks for the reminder and the great article.
Happy Turkey Week!!

Sal Coombes
November 25, 2013 at 6:42 am

Successful people apply their own thinking, originality and creativity to the lessons that other successful people demonstrate. There’s no one single best practice or step-by-step guide or book of magic. Instead it’s about understanding the principles and adding our own twist based on our own individual situations. I joined the course to learn from Noah’s mentality, not the steps or system.

November 25, 2013 at 6:32 am


November 25, 2013 at 6:12 am

This is the email I was waiting for.

November 25, 2013 at 5:14 am

I agree on this post. Just one thing on this for the employed. This works out if you have a good manager, somebody you believe will make you grow in the long term. Otherwise, if you get shitty admin work, on top of of a shitty boss, you won’t have the best attitude, or your cheering attitude will sound fake because you won’t believe to an inch of it (or not, if you are a good actor, but then shouldn’t you be an actor?).

Just saying. We have to strive to take responsibility and never complain and all, but we also should strive to avoid bad bosses, because they will kill your attitude, no matter what.

Steve - Texfly
November 24, 2013 at 9:49 pm

To quote a certain D. Trump

“Get going. Move forward. Aim High. Plan a takeoff. Don’t just sit on the runway and hope someone will come along and push the airplane. It simply won’t happen. Change your attitude and gain some altitude. Believe me, you’ll love it up here.”

Its all about positivity and persistence. Keep your chin up, keep plugging away. Each time something doesn’t work, I like to think it’s one step closer to finding something that DOES work.

Cara Brett
November 24, 2013 at 8:46 pm

Most successful people I meet are pretty organised, or at least have enough organisation not to miss deadlines, or ‘forget’ to follow up.

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