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5 Weird Habits That Make People Successful And Awesome

Because if you make enough money, people call you "eccentric" instead of "crazy."

Editor's Note: This is one of the most-read leadership articles of 2013. Click here to see the full list.

Yes, we all need to heed our callings, follow our north stars, and not settle for jobs, but pursue careers.

Thing is, during anyone's career, sometimes it gets weird—and getting weird can pay off. Over at Forbes, Jason Nazar gets it done.

(Warning: these practices may work for these people, but this writer takes no responsibility for the strangeness that may cause in your life. Although, as a lifelong advocate of eccentricity, I encourage you to try them on.)


to steel your team's beliefs. "In business you can’t turn over the reins to someone who doesn’t know how to defend their own ideas and plans," Nazar writes. Like an ancient Sophist, you should argue with your colleagues about what they are thinking and doing. Debate forces them to articulate their own motivations and assumptions and do the same for you.


You need to be ready to call someone out. If somebody is bullshitting you, tell them. They need to hear it. Being endlessly deferential is a shortcut: instead of doing the hard work of advocating truth, you take the "easy" route of suffocating in passivity. And remember: you can train yourself to communicate better.

Be ruthless:

It's healthy to have high standards. Nazar mentions George Carlin: he watched the comic master berate himself in rehearsal for missing the timing of his jokes by a few seconds. Mastery is uncompromising. As a magazine editor once told me, you have to be willing to be great, which requires ruthlessness.

Seek out rejection:

Some people go their entire lives having never thrown or taken a punch (like me). It's just a punch. Some people live their lives afraid of rejection. Getting told "no" isn't the end of everything you hold dear. Neither is being left out. In fact, it's healthy.

Isolate yourself:

Yes, we know that you're incredibly popular and hip and you never eat alone and you can work any room. That's great. But if you ever want to grow internally rather than court external validation, you need to get away from all the people. Reflect. Care for your inner introvert.

What's the one thing you do that makes you highly functional and highly you? Get thee to the comments.

17 Counterintuitive Things the Most Successful People Do

Drake Baer is a contributing writer for Fast Company. You can follow him on Twitter.

[Image: Flickr user Lorenzo Tomada]

Add New Comment


  • Peter J. Kraus

    Agreed, except for one. I used to be ruthless, and then I went broke. So that didn´t really work for me.

  • Great stuff. Of all the junk that's out there on "x ways to be awesome" and "how to be successful" and whatever, this is one of the only real, concise and truthful pieces!

  • Derek Lauber

    Nice post.

    Argue, confront and seek out rejection are three traits that many entrepreneurs have a tough time developing. Playing nice, appeasing and not taking the bold risk to be told "NO" is what holds many back from truly succeeding at a high level. I'm going to share this with all my clients.


  • After spending months of isolations even from close friends, the other habits somehow became a better choice when dealing with people in general in my case at least. A great article that can open people's eyes into a wonderful way of living without having to be "polite" about some of the wrong things people justify their mistakes with.

  • Janine Brill

    This article really challenged me abe made me feel very uncomfortable! The discomfort confirms that it's something that will help me grow. So thank you!

  • Tania

    Interesting habits.) I have that one of isolating myself from the world, just often get tired of rude and impolite people. As for ruthless with yourself is not bad, but not being that with others.

  • Charles

    a trajectory that leads to success. I disagreed and gave examples of people that I had seen BECOME successful that didn't do anything of those things.

  • Charles

    The author suggests there are behaviors that can put a person on a trajectory that leads to success. I disagreed

  • Charles

    They thanked me for it, later. The world is becoming more human focused rather than business as usual and good leaders are learning that true management is about empowering their team. Perhaps you should join the rebel alliance and stand for empowerment where you work

  • Charles

    They need to hear it. Being endlessly deferential is a shortcut: instead of doing the hard work of advocating truth

  • RealityCheck

    Actually, this article should be called 5 Weird Habits that Get You Fired and Unemployable. In every company I have ever worked with, anyone who does any/all of these five things is equivalent to asking their boss to fire them.

    While many companies try to convey to the world that they believe in challenging the status quo, pride themselves on having brilliant people, having an open door policy and the like, for most of them, it's a merely a facade. 

    I have worked in plenty of companies where I was told they wanted me because I was a change agent, a person who can streamline their processes and can move them forward. Once they found out that it actually took work to do that, they quickly changed their minds. I quickly learned that disagreeing with a colleague meant that you weren't a team player, that sending e-Mails without a healthy dose of "please" and "thank you" came off as rude, and more.

    Something tells me that the writer of this article never worked a day in his life in the corporate world - it's probably a good thing too because he'd be fired before he had a chance to warm his seat.

  • Michelle Proietti

    I don't think Baer is suggesting that people be weird and argumentative all the time (although he did use the word "habits"). I do think that I am one of many who has been taught from the very beginning, directly and indirectly, that these 5 scenarios are negative, unlikable, and all around bad.

    Not true. Knowing WHEN and HOW to use these suggestions is necessary. If implemented at the correct time and with the right people, these suggestions can be very effective. Besides, people-pleasing is exhausting!

  • corporate refugee

    What you are describing is the utter failure of most corporate cultures. When I was working in a small company start up, it was crazy but fun and energizing. As soon as it went to medium size and bigger, it lost all sense of common purpose. The culture was totally polluted when it went public and then was sold off to a Silicon Valley company. That was the death nell. Everyone of value has left. Only the agreeable are still there, getting along with each other and going downhill faster and faster every year.

  • tommariner

    Very True! "it lost all sense of common purpose" -- Yes -- if you're used to everybody working toward the organization's goals in a smaller firm, you're surprised that most are now rewarded by their little area and keep doing that, even if it is counter to the organization when it is merged with a larger one.

  • Juneki

    lol - Generally people using this strategy have been laid off every time their employer had a lay-off and ended up employing themselves...their performance reviews are filled with things like "is not a team player" ,"is rude"