What Does Success Mean To You? [62 Business Leaders Answer]

by / ⠀Startup Advice / May 25, 2024
What Does Success Mean To You?

Success means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Money? Power? Fame? According to the dictionary, success means the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one’s goal. We asked 62 business leaders what success means to them to try to help us understand why we do what we do.

What Does Success Mean To You?

Top 10 Answers

1. “Success is achieving the set goal, enjoyment, and recognition of influential people. These three points are the constant companions of success.” — Henry Sheykin Founder of FinModelsLab.

2. “Success is a moving target. I don’t think we ever achieve ‘it’, at least in our own minds. But I do know this…if you think you have achieved your greatest success, you clearly have decided to stop pushing yourself.” — Mike Michalowicz, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

3. “Success is the freedom to live your life as the great big fat adventure it is — and the wisdom to understand that all you have to do is to choose to do so.” — John Jantsch, author of The Referral Engine

4. “Success means happiness.” — Ben Casnocha, Author, My Startup Life

5. “Success is the ability to do what you love every day. This may sound simple but what you love changes over time and having the ability to change what you are doing to match your passion is true success. This has nothing to do with money, wealth or status as each person has different passions and loves.” — David Hauser co-founder of Grasshopper

6. “Success means having no idea what day of the week it is.” — Scott Ginsberg

7. “Success is an attitude and state of mind where I feel the exhilaration of knowing that I made a difference for many, did this doing what I love, and making a lot of money in the process so I get to experience many things in this extraordinary world. The most important part of success is a deep knowing that I made a difference for others.” — Nancy Fox, Business Building Expert

8. “Success is risk without fear and reward measured not just by dollars but by the time I create to enjoy those rewards.” — Gilbert Melott, Founder, NextVoice247

9. “Success is helping others develop into leaders who can change the world.” — Michael Roberto, Professor Bryant University, Author Know What You Don’t Know

10. “Success means caring more about the personal and professional growth of others instead of your own.” — G.L. Hoffman, What Would Dad Say

Answers Beyond Top 10

11. “Success means I’m at liberty to help others reach their success, instead of worrying about my own.” — Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs LLC

12. “Success, for me, isn’t measured through superficial metrics such as money. Rather, I believe it is measured through the positive impact you have on the lives of others. For example, think about what the founders of the internet brought to the world, or the team behind Google and Apple, who are revolutionizing technology and simultaneously touching lives. That is how I define success.” — Mo Al Adham, co-founder of TwitVid

13. “Success is being able to support my family in something I love doing.” — Barry Moltz, author and speaker

14. “To me, success means working toward my dreams. As long as I keep moving in the right direction I feel successful.” — Cara Newman, Editor, Young Money

15. “Success to me means creating and maintaining balance in my life. It’s important to work hard and accomplish your goals, but it’s critical to remember to take care of yourself — exercise, eat well, spend time with friends, family, and loved ones. A balanced mind is a smart mind!” — Monique Peltz, Marketing Coordinator

16. “Victories in battle. I measure our success by recognizing continued victories in battle. Did we get press? Did we make a sale? Is marketing working? Are we growing?” — Jonathan Davis, founder of GreenPosting.org

17. “I measure success by the success that I breed and goals I achieve. My projects are aimed at assisting entrepreneurs to grow their companies and achieve their dreams. They hit their goals and I hit mine ten-fold.” — Kerry Bannigan, CEO of Nolcha: Fashion Business Services

18. “I define success as the ability to do what I love (which is write) in a way that is meaningful to myself and my readers while having the freedom to explore new opportunities and challenge myself all the while having enough money to splurge on loved ones, travel, pop into a nice bistro every now and again.” — Brenda Della Casa, Author/Columnist/Dating Coach

19. “Success is delegating and paying others to do all the stuff I’ve been doing myself for 10 years so I can enjoy the creative side of my business, family, and life more! Success is moving away from the $20 an hour jobs and focusing on the $250 hr jobs!” — Mary Murphy, President/Chief Creator, Hooray for Books

20. “A successful business is one that can be sold. Sold at a price that includes a return on investment commensurate with the risk involved. If this is not possible, the business is not a financial or economic success. Each owner can define their personal requirements in any way they wish. However, introduce financial parameters and this is the only definition that will fly.” — Dan Bowser, President, Business Value Insights

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21. “Success is mostly a state of mind, you measure it by how you feel and by the quality of the interactions with your clients. You know you are successful when you verify that your clients are benefiting from their working relationship with you. The benefits are how you can help them challenge their thinking and be a trusted partner. They need to know that you are in it with/for them. Success is being invited to be an active partner in your client’s business.” — Frédéric Guitton, Activ Sales Agent

22. “Dollars and cents provide operating capital but it does not equate to success. Success is best defined by the passion and dedication for which your organization operates, it cannot be bought or acquired” — Carlos Gil, Founder JobsDirectUSA

23. “To have other respected individuals in business and the community look to you for guidance is to be successful. In my eyes, respect equals success.” — Reid Stone, CEO/Brand Strategy Director at The Hero Farm

24. “Success means leaving the world a little bit better because I was here.” — Mark Black, Inspirational Speaker, Author, Transplant Recipient, Mark Black Speaks

25. “Success is making a difference to people while doing what we love. For me, it involves working with great coworkers and customers while creating new business opportunities.” — Jamin Arvig

26. “If you help people every day, and don’t trample over good people, or crush the less knowledgeable, and exercise kindness while in pursuit of your business and life goals, you will feel a sense of accomplishment each day, and your creating success. Success is a verb, ongoing. It’s better to feel success each day, and grow it, than to feel you are searching for success. Life changes, so think of success as pliable, supple. If you feel overwhelmed with pressure and stress during your ‘journey of success’ you might consider your goal of success, as some future destination, is the wrong track for you to be on; you may never get there, or run out of gas trying.” — Jay Weinberg

27. “Success means the accomplishment of your self-defined goals. Once you feel that you have accomplished them, you have succeeded.” — Ben Lang

28. “For many people, accomplishing the goal you set is a success. But I think that you need to get out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself by stretching a little more in order to move forward to the next level of your own success. Taking consistent and persistent action every day, even in small amounts can move you forward to where you want to go. This in turn is your own success. It does not have to be money, driving an expensive car(s), having a big house, or more. I believe success is on your own terms. Typically, everyone uses someone else’s definition of success and never bothers to look at success for themselves. Each person is unique enough to have their own definition of what makes them feel and think they are a success.” — Neal Burgis, Ph.D./Certified Executive Coach, Successful Solutions

29. “Success for me means living how and where I want to, and doing what I’m passionate about.” — Cody McKibben

30. “Success is more than just a number in my bank account; it is also measured by the smiles on my clients’ faces, having fun every day, being “kooky”, and the difference I see myself making in the community around me.” — Angela McKeller, Founder of Jella Enterprises, LLC

31. “As a 26-year-old business owner I measure success by the success of my clients. If my clients are able to have options and enjoy a happier life after working with me, then I see myself as a success. Earning promotions, improving relationships, gaining respect, and having a new attitude toward life are all measures of success for me and my clients.” — Grant Harris, MBA, Owner & Chief Style Consultant, Image Granted, LLC

32. “Success is something that is not measured only with the amount of money one earns. It’s also about the freedom to do the most incredible things one could imagine…the ability to travel to the most magnificent places on earth, or even in space, the ability to buy anything no matter how expensive it is, to help a lot of people in need using one’s success, or to change people’s opinion about many important things…” — Allan Bard

33. “Success is knowing I’m in alignment with my personal integrity no matter the external appearance.” — Jennifer Davidson, Reality Check Coaching LLC

34. “If you measure success externally you will always be disappointed. There will always be people in front of you and in back of you. As a result, success has got to come from your subconscious. So, if you sleep well at night, you are successful.” — Jeffrey Taylor

35. “Success is the reification of a goal. And reification harkens back to the Jesse Jackson mantra: ‘If I can conceive it, I can believe it. And if I can believe it, I can achieve it.'” — Dr. Marlene Caroselli

36. “My true success will be measured ten to twenty years from now. I know I am successful when my bills are paid and my children still want to come home to visit me. That means I truly succeeded at the work/life balancing act.” — Nadine Owens Burton, Owens Burton Consulting

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37. “Success means feeling content with my level of inner peace.” — Jeff Coombs, Managing Partner, Rainmaker Thinking

38. “Success is being able to look at my life during any given second and know if it were to end today I would be completely and utterly satisfied with what I have accomplished up until that point. To be successful, you must not believe in regret, but rather in learning from past experiences and using them to become stronger. I considered my business a success after obtaining my first client five years ago.” — Tyler Barnett

39. “I measure my success by the amount of time I can spend with my family, without having to worry about when my next commission check is going to arrive.” — Candice “Candy” Cain Owner, The Candy Cain Travel Co.

40. “Success is in the eye of the beholder. What one person considers a success might be an abject failure to someone else. Success is defined by one’s expectations.” — Jason Zasky, Editor and co-founder, Failure Magazine

41. “Success means I was always there both for and with my family when they needed me. Everything else is secondary.” — Dave Crenchshaw

42. “I measure success by my ability to help people. The more people I can help, the more successful I consider myself to be. Whether that means having time to devote to charity organizations, teaching business owners social media strategies that work, or volunteering at the local school — if I’ve got the time to help others, it means my businesses are being run and are profitable, and thus, I can devote my time to giving to others — so that to me is success!” — Heather Logrippo, CEO of Expose Yourself Public Relations

43. “One of my favorite quotes that I base success on is: ‘I have learned not to measure a man by his success in life, but by the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.’ Booker T. Washington.” — Dr. Nancy B. Irwin, speaker and author

44. “Success for me means 3 things: 1) Spending tons of quality time with my baby 2) Being able to work from any place (i.e. the beach, a coffee shop, my bedroom) 3) Having the freedom to only take on things that I feel inspired to work on.” — Amber O’Neal, Owner of Cafe Physique

45. “We measure it not only by what our company accomplishes but also by the business growth of our clients — from the increased awareness about their brand to the expansion of their products or services.” — Connie Wong, President of Moderne Press

46. “You can’t copy success. You should make your own definition of success, then live, breathe, and work towards it until it becomes true.” — Cristian Dorobantescu, Small Business Entrepreneur, Romania

47. “Waking up when you want and eating what you want from the fridge, catching your favorite show, running errands when everyone else doesn’t, meeting friends for no reason, having a glass of wine during a meeting, shopping for new clothes, and scheduling meetings when you want. Success is about freedom, fun, and having to answer to no one. It’s about living life never realizing where work actually came into play that entire day.” — Greg Palomino, owner, Event Marketing Agency

48. “Success is not a destination. Rather, it is the journey that you take with a smile on your face. When you work hard for something and you see that you made a difference, you are already successful. Whether it is landing a new job, expanding your business, learning a new word, or setting a new record on your daily run, it is already a success. Growing and making an improvement, big or small, is what makes a person successful.” — Ofer Tirosh, CEO, Tomedes Translation Services

49. “To me, success is simply being able to live the life I want to live. A hobo who is doing what he loves is successful. A multimillionaire CEO who hates getting up in the morning is a failure.” — Barry Maher, Principal, Barry Maher & Associates

50. “Success means knowing I’m making at least as much money as I made when I last worked for someone else.” — Shane Fischer, Fischer Law

51. “Am I happy? If yes, then that is a success for me.” — Andy Hayes, Managing Director, Travel Online Partners

52. “To me, it’s living with authenticity, passion, and a sense of wonder. It means committing to only that which lights my fire, feeds my soul, and challenges me to be my best. Success means to me means living my truth, sharing my gifts, and making my unique contribution to the world.” — Linda Joy, President /Publisher, Aspire Magazine

53. “Success means finally waking up with not one thing to complain about!” — T. Bodene Wolfe, author of “Guys With Really Bad Shoes”

54. “Success is an evolving thing. It’s knowing that you’re doing exactly what you want to be doing at that moment, and being comfortable with the fact that what you want will change with time. Success is having the mental freedom to go with the flow.” — Mark Wadden, Co-founder, Technologist, M79 Studios Inc.

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55. “Success is a feeling of satisfaction and self-worth that comes from the realization of a goal that I set to accomplish.” — Frank Spillers, Co-Owner, Global Horizons, LLC

56. “My measure of success is knowing that I’m engaged, challenged, and growing; and I know I’m there by the sense of excitement and peace in my gut.” — Jennifer Brown, JP SQUARED COMMUNICATION, LLC

57. “Success is identifying a dream or goal, taking the leap/s to get there, and landing the achievement. For me, it was starting with nothing (no money, no platform, no client base, no former model, etc…) but the dream and building it client by client and finding 3 years out that the business was not only successful but also sustainable. What a high!” — Lisa L. Spahr, owner of Spahr Consulting, Life Coaches Services, and Professional Advising

58. “The definition of success is different for everyone. For some, it’s building an iconic and global brand. For others, it’s being on the radar of industry peers, leading CEOS, and the press alike. And yet for others, it’s having $100 million in the bank. For me — it’s these three things combined. Anything short is considered a failure. Period.” — Matthew Corrin, founder of freshii

59. “Success to me is finding a balance of wealth, freedom, and opportunity so the day-to-day runs smoothly and I can focus on larger strategy and company growth.” — Timothy Wolf CEO, The Small Business Beanstalk

60. “For me and my brand, success means credibility and demand. I aim for every project, every message, and every interaction to be seen as legitimate and honest and to carry a certain level of expertise. A credible image organically transforms into demand as clients begin to understand that your company is one that understands the market, that has the mastery to help them with their own problems and can subsequently lead the client to its own level of success.” — Lauren Perkins, President, Perks Consulting

61. “The definition of success changes throughout life. When young, one’s perception may be as simple as being accepted by a group of friends. In adolescence, success may mean being accepted to the college of your choice. As people venture into adulthood, they may define it as finding a partner or the accumulation of achievements and/or monetary gains. When you have children, success often shifts or is split between your own success and being successful in raising children who are happy and successful. As one grows older, one may spend time doing what one would never have expected to be doing as a child or switching to social causes. As one grows into old age, success will change based on health, finances, family, friendships, culture, geography, etc. Success comes down to life’s experiences befitting who you are and where you are on your life’s timeline.” — David Goldsmith

62. “It means being able to say, ‘I love what I do.'” — Brett Farmiloe, author of Pursue the Passion

In exploring the concept of success through the perspectives of 62 diverse business leaders, it becomes evident that success is a deeply personal and evolving journey. While traditional definitions may link success to financial wealth, power, or fame, the insights shared by these leaders reveal a broader spectrum of meanings. From achieving set goals, enjoying the journey, and gaining recognition to finding freedom, pursuing passion, and making a positive impact on others, success emerges as a subjective and dynamic experience. From achieving set goals, enjoying the journey, and gaining recognition to finding freedom, pursuing a passion, and making a positive impact on others, success emerges as a subjective and dynamic experience. One more way to find out about a career and how to succeed is through a psychic reading on a successful career where psychics are ready to answer important questions.

The top 10 answers offer a glimpse into the varied dimensions of success, highlighting the importance of personal growth, risk-taking, and the ability to adapt to changing passions. Henry Sheykin emphasizes the trinity of achieving goals, enjoyment, and recognition, encapsulating the holistic nature of success. Mike Michalowicz’s perspective on success as a moving target reflects the perpetual quest for improvement and self-challenge.

Beyond the top 10, the additional responses provide further depth to the discourse. Chris Brogan underscores the shift from personal success to enabling others’ success, emphasizing the transformative power of leadership. Mo Al Adham emphasizes the impact on the lives of others, transcending monetary metrics and focusing on the positive contributions to the world.

The diverse range of responses showcases that success extends beyond financial metrics, encapsulating personal fulfillment, work-life balance, and the ability to make meaningful contributions. Whether measured by happiness, the ability to help others, or leaving a positive mark on the world, success emerges as an ongoing, individualized pursuit. As business leaders share their unique definitions, it becomes clear that success is a dynamic interplay of personal values, achievements, and the continuous pursuit of growth and impact. Ultimately, success is not a destination but a journey, marked by self-reflection, adaptability, and the genuine pursuit of what one loves.

Updated: Feb. 14, 2022

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on Under30CEO.com, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.


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