Success Built to Last: Creating a Life That Matters

by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery, Mark Thompson

This book is about common traits of what the authors call “enduringly successful people” or “builders.”  The findings are the result of original research.

“The traditional definition of success was resoundingly trounced in this survey, as well as our personal interviews… Nowhere in the dictionary definition do you find any reference to finding meaning, fulfillment, happiness, and lasting relationships. No mention of feeling fully alive while engaged and connected with a calling that matters to you.”

The formula for lasting success is the alignment of Meaning, Thought, and Action. These are the themes of parts 1, 2, and 3.

“It’s dangerous not to do what you love. The harsh truth is that if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’ll lose to someone who does!”

“This book is not about worshiping the accomplishments of inaccessible larger-than-life overachievers. That simply doesn’t work… It’s a mistake to make major choices about your career and your life based entirely on chasing a dream promoted by other people.”

The personal struggles with dyslexia by Charles Schwab, Richard Branson, and John Chambers were very interesting to read about. “Frankly, I don’t have the luxury of leaving things complicated,” said Schwab. “As it turns out, smart people like our customers hate overly complicated stuff, too! There has always been a huge opportunity in demystifying things for clients.”

Successful people seek out contention. “We’re talking about gloves-off, brutally frank dialog. It’s what some pundits call naked conversations… Builders don’t fend off contention; they manage it as a source of inspiration.”

The authors also examine the topic of a balanced life. They conclude that balance, as culturally defined, is nonsense.  What people really want is a portfolio of passions.  I think that’s a good way to think about it.

Porras, Jerry I., and Stewart Emery. Success Built to Last: Creating a Life That Matters. New York: Penguin, 2007. Buy from

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