07/19/2012 10:57 am ET | Updated Sep 18, 2012

Ingredients to Success

What separates those who have success, from those who do not? What is the secret ingredient needed to make an impact in the world? Is it resilience, or perhaps bravado, tenacity? Or is it what Ted Leonsis, whom I refer to as the Wizard of D.C. once told me, a person's "stick-with-itness"? We can sit here and find adjectives all day, but in my life, I have narrowed it down to three key factors that lead to a life of success, regardless of the field one chooses.

In my last five years as a publisher, and ten years prior to that working as an executive in the corporate world, not to mention my eleven years of being a mom, I have learned a few things about what makes a person fabulously successful. Due to my years in the professional world, I have become a bit of an expert on the subject. I can pinpoint the people who will excel as well as those, well-meaning individuals who will ultimately fail. I can usually figure out if a person falls in the former or latter after one face to face conversation, and, at risk of sounding pompous, I have yet to be wrong on this subject. It's almost uncanny. But, really, it's not -- in fact it is rather formulaic. You see, I look for three simple aspects in a person, three essential characteristics that will separate them from the pack: passion, curiosity and organizational skills. I'll highlight the first of the three here today.


Passion is that one ingredient that you either have or you don't. You can't teach it and you can't fake it. A person with genuine passion can be seen coming from a mile away. They have an unparalleled grasp of the issues at hand. You know a person has passion when they display these simple to spot characteristics:

  1. They know everything there is to know about what they do.
  2. They want to talk, sometimes incessantly, about their area of expertise at every chance they get.
  3. They know all the people involved and all the thought leaders in their area and can readily site their ideas and deeds.
  4. They inspire others to that same enthusiasm which is contagious when it's genuine.
  5. They can give a speech on the subject without so much as a pad of paper in front of them.
  6. Their eyes widen, and their pulse seems to rise when they talk about what they love.

These six aspects are sure tell signs that a person is passionate about what they do. However, passion alone will not garner you success. It is only when passion works in tandem with the other two principles that a person's path to success is guaranteed.

Next blog -- I will write about curiosity.