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Video Summary: How to Get Ahead of 99% of People (Starting Today) by Mark Manson


Self-help gurus pedal their wares – productivity hacks, constructive morning routines, good habits, and so on – which, they claim, can make you more successful. Yet according to author and blogger Mark Manson, these factors have a trifling impact on success. Most of the world’s biggest breakthroughs stem not from execution but from contrarian ideas. In his signature irreverent tone, Manson divulges the approach common to highly successful people, as well as his thoughts on the nature of extreme success itself. Please note: If you’re triggered by expletives or references to substance abuse, you may feel uncomfortable watching Manson’s not-safe-for-work (NSFW) video.


  • Most self-help advice has no correlation to success.
  • You won’t become one of the world’s most successful people by following the herd.
  • Extreme success isn’t a destination. Reflect on your motivation.

Video Summary: How to Get Ahead of 99% of People (Starting Today) by Mark Manson


Most self-help advice has no correlation to success.

Many life coaches and self-help gurus claim to have the tools to make you “more successful than 99% of people,” but most of this advice is hooey. Constructive productivity hacks, healthful habits or positive morning routines, while important, have no bearing on success. In fact, even if you habitually breakfast on junk food and sleep until 11 a.m., you can emerge more successful than the majority of people. Lifestyle has little sway on success.

“While execution is incredibly important, it is not the thing that determines the magnitude of a person’s success…If I can do one thing that will 100X my results, then the other 99 things don’t really matter.”

Some of history’s most successful people had questionable habits: Winston Churchill famously drank Scotch in the bathtub, and Thomas Edison was known to use cocaine. And Warren Buffett became one of the richest people in the world, despite eating a McDonald’s breakfast each morning.

You won’t become one of the world’s most successful people by following the herd.

Buffett excels not because of his diet or lifestyle but because he has an uncanny ability to spot value in companies that other people don’t rate. Yet Buffett humbly recognizes that the vast majority of his success sprang from no more than 12 good investments. He epitomizes the secret to extreme success: You need to be willing to do something that 99% of people aren’t.

“Steve Jobs was not Steve Jobs because he woke up early and ate…fruit. Steve Jobs was Steve Jobs because he believed, a full decade before anybody else, that one day a computer would sit on every desk and be in every office in the entire world. And he was correct about it.”

To get ahead of 99% of people, you must check three boxes:

  1. Have a contrarian idea – To go against the grain, you must question widely-held assumptions, adopt unpopular beliefs, and seek opportunities or alternatives that others dismiss or miss.
  2. Be right about that idea – Most contrarian ideas are plain wrong. To succeed, you must not only disagree with 99% of people but also be correct.
  3. Execute on a massive scale – You must be willing to risk everything in support of your correct contrarian idea.

Extreme success isn’t a destination. Reflect on your motivation.

While many people crave extreme success, they are unprepared for the harsh realities that accompany swimming against the current. Extreme success comes with three caveats. First, if you find a contrarian idea you believe in, you’ll likely face a backlash. Contrarians are unpopular and often deeply disliked. Becoming extremely successful will only be meaningful for you if your contrarian idea is also meaningful.

Second, to be a correct contrarian, you have to be an incorrect contrarian many times before you strike gold. Most contrarian ideas are considered “contrarian” because they are, in fact, wrong. Young people in particular often fail to recognize that their predecessors experimented with the same contrarian ideas and failed.

“Instead of asking how to become more successful than 99% of people, you should be asking yourself, ‘Why do I want to become more successful than 99% of people?’ Because that is the question that is actually going to yield more useful answers for you.”

And finally, extreme success doesn’t unleash happiness. Rather, it amplifies your existing personality and feelings. So if you’re depressed, you’ll become more depressed, and if you already have good relationships, they’ll improve when you align with your purpose.

Extreme success shouldn’t be your goal; rather, you should find motivation from pursuing a correct contrarian idea that is so important to you that you can’t begin to imagine abandoning it.

About the Speaker

Mark Manson is the best-selling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope.

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