Leadership

3 TED Talks you should watch if you want to be successful

Arianna Huffington
Adam Jeffery | CNBC
Arianna Huffington

Success is what motivates us. We go to college, attain jobs and network with our peers with the hopes of achieving our goals in life.

But how do you become successful? These three TED Talks feature experts, including Richard Saint John, Bill Gross and Arianna Huffington, who unveil their secrets to being successful:

1. Focus on one goal

In today's world, it's easy to have your attention pulled in different directions. But if you want to be successful at a young age, there's one skill you must master: focus.

In his 2005 TED Talks speech titled "8 Secrets of Success," best-selling author Richard Saint John uses over a decade of interviews with the likes of Bill Gates and Martha Stewart to uncover the must-have traits of successful people. The speech has gained over 10 million views.

The most important thing, he tells CNBC Make It, is focus. "Successful people aren't great at everything," says Saint John. "They are great at one thing and suck at everything else. If you focus on too many things, you won't be able to spend time on what makes you great."

Next on the list is passion. Saint John says that most successful people he has interviewed work extremely hard and also love what they do.

"They're not workaholics," he says in his speech. "They're workafrolics."

Saint John says that successful people are also able to persist through difficult times, are full of ideas, serve others and push themselves to go that extra mile.

2. Take a look at timing

Every day it seems like there's a new startup vying for our attention. But what sets apart those that flourish and those that flop?

In his 2015 TED Talk "The Single Biggest Reason Startups Succeed," startup founder Bill Gross looked at data from a multitude of organizations and ranked each company based on five factors. In his analysis, he found that one factor stood out the most in determining the success of a startup: timing.

"Timing accounted for 42 percent of the difference between success and failure," Gross says in his speech, which has gained almost four million views. "Team and execution came in second, and the idea, the differentiability of the idea, the uniqueness of the idea, that actually came in third."

Airbnb, which is now worth approximately $31 billion, was passed on by many investors in its early stages.

"People thought, 'No one's going to rent out a space in their home to a stranger,'" says Gross.

The company came out during the height of the recession when people needed money, says Gross. This likely made people overcome their squeamishness about renting their home to a stranger.

"The best way to really assess timing is to really look at whether consumers are really ready for what you have to offer them," says Gross. "If you have something you love, you want to push it forward, but you have to be very, very honest about that factor on timing."

3. Get adequate shut-eye

Hard work, long nights, increased productivity — these are all phrases that many associate with success. Sleep? Not so much.

But media mogul Arianna Huffington says in her 2012 TED Talk "How to Succeed? Get More Sleep" that if you want to enhance your productivity, happiness and decision-making, then you'd better get a full night's rest. Her speech has over four million views.

"I'm here to tell you that the way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep," says Huffington. And the businesswoman speaks from experience.

Years ago, she says, she fainted from exhaustion while sitting at her desk, which cracked her cheekbone and forced her to get five stitches in her eye. Thus began a journey of "rediscovering the power of sleep."

Currently, sleep deprivation is seen as a bragging right. People boast about how much work we've done and how little sleep we've had, says Huffington. This unhealthy obsession with being overworked must stop, she says, and women must lead that movement.

"We women are going to lead the way in this new revolution, this new feminist issue. We are literally going to sleep our way to the top," says Huffington. "So I urge you to shut your eyes, and discover the great ideas that lie inside us; to shut your engines and discover the power of sleep."

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See also:

Why you should find a great mentor if you want to be successful

How Apple's success can be traced to Steve Jobs

The Ivy League grad who just became Miss America says this mentality led to her success