15 Characteristics Of Insanely Successful People

A review of key characteristics of top performers and what makes them tick.


Jennifer Friebely

3 years ago | 6 min read

Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

Take just about every extremely successful person you meet — they tend to possess specific common characteristics that are often the reason for their success when taken to the maximum.

The differences that make them the top of their games. Anyone can master these characteristics — it’s having the chops to follow through to the extent that these individuals do.

Some of these extremes can and do cause some of us to cringe. Perhaps there’s a reason it’s lonely at the top or that nice guys finish last.

These high achievers tend to share and master the following:

They have a “failure is not an option” mindset. For example, a business owner who had just purchased a great deal of new inventory lost the rights to sell a top-performing item that drew customers to his store. Instead of feeling that loss doomed his business, he exclaimed — “we are having a cash flow problem.” And indeed, that’s all it turned out to be despite how bleak the actual situation was. He refused to succumb to fear. This guy had a success mindset that did not allow him to fail. The item that attracted so much business became insignificant because it forced him to find even better replacements. He figured out how.

They are risk-takers. They didn’t get where they are by sitting comfortably at a desk, collecting a predictable paycheck with predictable benefits. They achieved it by finding ways to earn income other than exchanging their time for money. They’ve developed products and services that far outpace typical earnings.

They seemingly have no boundaries. It’s fair to say they even drive their coworkers, employees, and loved ones a little crazy. They want their customers updated on projects before they even think to ask — especially if there’s bad news. They demand perfection and follow-through at every level — it’s great to be a client of one of these individuals. You are in the best hands. No one will work harder for you.

They are relentless. These individuals will ask and ask and ask if they think they are about to get a deal. They make others play dumb and pester prospects “one more time to get that order through.” They will call so much that the client or prospective client will accuse them of acting like a needy prom date. Everything is considered based on its net effect.

They work all the time. And love doing it. Holidays. Birthdays. Vacations. Nights. Weekends. When they are sick or in pain. Even if working from the hospital, they don’t feel like it’s work. It’s their life and passion. Everyone else thinks they’re crazy. That doesn’t matter. If they get an idea at 4 am — they’re up and working. If something needs to take care of, it gets done — no matter what else is going on. A building could be collapsing around them, and they would still try to contact their client to let them know they’re still working.

They want to hear what you have to say in as few words as possible. Nothing drives a busy, high functioning person crazier than excessive words to make a point. Small talk? They don’t care unless you are a target/client/romantic interest. They’ll pretend they are listening — but they are not. Word count is vital. Be mindful of what you are saying and how you are saying it lest you awaken the kracken. In other words — don’t think out loud — You know who you are.

They know their value. They are not afraid to charge what they are worth. If a client or customer is unwilling to pay their fee, then that client/customer is not for them. Furthermore, they will refer that client to someone who will appreciate the lead and will accept a lower fee — because they know everyone has to start somewhere. That client still walks away satisfied. But make no mistake, they will invoice their mother if they have to.

They continuously fill the sales funnel. They are always on the hunt for their next gig, client, or large account. Sometimes these are indeed found on the golf course, at soccer practice, at a cocktail party — when least expected. But it is never considered luck. It’s because they work hard all the time that something breaks in the oddest place.

They put off nothing. Even the most mundane email or phone call to check-in has to be done right away — or as soon as humanly possible. Nothing can wait. Phone calls and emails receive responses immediately so that clients are never left waiting. No opportunity is left unaddressed. Everything has a deadline.

They always pick up the phone. Always. Even numbers they don’t recognize. They could be in the middle of a meeting or an argument or watching a movie or their kid’s first recital. They pick up that phone. Drives everyone around them crazy. But they do it. They may not stay on long — just enough to tell the caller that they are busy. But they do it. I heard about one guy who picked up the phone during sex — this is a fact. People on the other end of the phone have listened to the sound of a toilet flushing. They take the call.

They are control freaks. They must know everything that is happening even down to the most mundane detail. They are often very obsessive about their mission and look for loyalty.

They are willing to do the dirty work. No job is too small or large for this type of person as they’ve done it also. From top to bottom — they know their business at every point and can jump in at a moment’s notice. They may not be happy about it — especially if they’re paying someone else to do it. But they can and will handle anything to ensure their customers and clients’ satisfaction.

Their vocation is their identity. Many have been in their careers for decades. Often for the same company or firm or they own their business. They are what they do. They can’t fathom doing anything else — nor would they want to. They can’t imagine a day when they aren’t conducting business. To them, retirement means giving up or getting their wings clipped.

They will put earnings and money before love. They earn a great deal of it, and their lifestyle is crucial to them. Their family rarely sees them. Often family goes on vacation without them or meets them at the destination. They are always taking business calls, even on vacation. They are hardly on social media unless it helps profits. If anything, they are on LinkedIn only because it’s vital for business — and they choose to stay that way.

They never give up. Ever. These individuals possess incredible self-confidence, which allows them to believe in themselves. They can fail umpteen times because they know that every failure brings them that much closer to the win. They perceive a “no” as “not now” — where most of us write it off as a dead end. This person stays in touch with the “no” and wears them down to “yes.” Never giving up helps to build relationships (if you don’t get thrown out).

If some of these characteristics are personally familiar — you could be part of this group. If you know someone who is like this — you are probably feeling a lot of validation right now.

Everyone has their own definition of success. And as in everything — there are the extremes. However, it’s the sum part of these extremes that fuel the success.

While it may not be tolerable for all of us, and we can see where moderation could improve their non-work relationships — Are going to these extremes the secret sauce of success? It’s not just one or two characteristics — but many added up.

It still begs the question: is it all worth it?

Jennifer Friebely is a New York-based content writer covering stories from personal development, marketing, and productivity to politics and music to whatever idea strikes. She has a 30+ year background in marketing and advertising and holds a BA in Political Science. Email her at


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Jennifer Friebely

A New York-based content writer covering stories from personal development, marketing, and productivity to politics and music to whatever idea strikes. She has a 30+ year background in marketing and advertising and holds a BA in Political Science.







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