What I Learned from Obama


As I watched a few minutes of President Obama’s inaugural ceremony I was struck with a fantastic success epiphany.

how to get my ex back

I realized why I’m not more successful:
Too many people like me.

Candidly, I don’t like it when, let’s just say, one out of a hundred people listen to my keynote talk, read my blog or book or Facebook posts, tweets or Publisher’s Letter, and don’t like me or what I


But that’s my problem:
Not enough people disagree with me.
Not enough people dislike me.

Barack Obama


(twice now) arguably the highest position any human can achieve, President of the United States of America, making him (arguably of course) the most powerful human being on the planet.

And 49% of people in his own country disagree with him and dislike him—some passionately.

Here is our lack of popularity comparison:
Me=less than 1%

Obama=President of the U.S.A.

The success epiphany is this:

The higher you climb on the ladder of success, the more people will dislike you.
Climb high enough and people might dislike you passionately, maybe even hate you.
Let that be okay.

Consequentially, if you are not as high on the ladder as you want to be, it might be because you are too worried about people disliking you.

This is keeping you from really challenging ideas, stirring up the status quos and leading a life by your own definition, regardless of the cultural or societal memes or expectations that surround you.

My new goal for 2013:
Piss more people off!

Please don’t tell me how much you like or hate Obama in the comments below. If you do, you will only reveal that you missed the point entirely. Thanks!




60 responses to “What I Learned from Obama”

  1. 51% who do not dislike Obama = 160.000.000 personnes
    you (like me) 99% = +/- 990 personnes

    I think you missed a point : Going up the ladder of success means focusing more on your goal than on what people think of you.

  2. Thank you Darren for this very important point!! Likeme-iris holds back soooo many would be entrepreneurs AND slows or halts employee advancement as well. Live With Intention, Dr Bill Toth, author, father, speaker

  3. This has really resonated with me today Darren. I made a decision to leave my job at the start of the week & whereas originally had agreed verbally to stay a month longer than contractually obliged (to give them more time to replace me), today I realised I was only doing this in order to be liked and to avoid conflict. It was not because it was the right thing for me. So, reading this after making the unpopular decision to leave sooner and yes, causing a further degree of hassle for my manager (not my responsibility however) has made me feel better because in my heart I know that I am choosing to do what is right for me as opposed to trying to satisfy others. Success for me is defined by being true to myself & it is so important to like yourself & respect yourself. I used to worry too much about other people’s opinions of me (I am English, it’s in my DNA!!) but quite frankly it is a waste of energy & resources when you can only ever truly know your own opinion of one person & that’s yourself. Will I reach dizzy heights of success with this approach, who knows? What I do know is, that it will be on my terms & not those of others.

  4. Hey Darren

    Great post yet soo true, the more successful you are in the public eye, the more your hated with a passion. Crazy world we live in!!! But I always say to my haters “Take notes and learn” lol

  5. Darren,

    I laughed at the end of your article, because earlier this morning I got into a bad business conversation over the telephone. My thought was Oh, My God, that person doesn’t like me anymore because I disagree with him.

    I know if I really want to succeed, I got to pissed people off, that is also my goal for 2013.

    Thanks–keep your articles coming, I enjoy reading them.

  6. Yes I understand what you are saying and it makes sense. Obama can be a success without a great deal of people who like him right. And there is the side of people who don’t like you well some onf them may not becasue you actually have the guts to do hat they did not. There is always a deeper motive to our actions. Ilove posts like this on becasue it keeps me doing what Iove, which is thnking about life and how to be a better person.

  7. Great point as well Mireya. I always want people to like me…it’s human nature. I think Dale Carnegie is making the point that it’s much harder to influence people that don’t like you…so do your best to get them to like you! It makes life much more enjoyable too! In regards to Darren’s article, I think he totally agrees as well, let me explain.

    Remember the analogy of the person that is the jack of all trades, but the master of none? You can try your best to get people to like you, but don’t expect everyone to like you. Sooner or later you’re going to offend someone if you do something you feel strongly about. Many people avoid taking that risk, and therefore never make that massive impact they have the potential to, for fear of what others think. Darren is simply saying that he’s going to be more “true to himself” in 2013 than he’s ever been…(thanks for the reminder Darren!) It’s inevitable that if you’re going to become the “master” of something, you’re going to upset some people. The point…stay true to yourself and do it anyway! Imagine life without any FOWOT!!! (Fear of what others think). If they don’t like us for who we truly are…(think of that for a second)…then in order for them to like us, we have to become someone we’re not. I can rest easy if these are the people that I’m upsetting…usually they’re just the noise-makers that sit on the sidelines of life anyway, right?~

  8. Great point and so true. But I do wonder about what Dale Carnegie talks about in his book How to win friends and influence people. Likability is a contributing factor in success but how does this relate to this post? I am coureous to know what you and others think.

  9. So many times people we get tangled up in the details and miss the entire point of what’s being said. Think about it…you could probably argue just about any topic, and somehow justify being right…(and to some extent, even be right!) The point of this article isn’t saying to go on a tangent and upset a bunch of people. To me it’s simply saying to stop filtering everything I do through the eyes of what certain people may think. Doing this will free me to live in a way, and produce the kind of results that I’m longing for. If I happen to upset some people along the way, then so be it. As always, Thanks Darren!

  10. Darren, you can not compare. You are teaching people how to be succesful w hile he is trying to turn America into a communist country. People don’t hate you but they envy you, which is not entirely different.
    Trying to piss people off…why? You have to continue to be yourself. If it isn’t broke….don’t fix it. The people that hate you don’t buy your magazin. Keep up the good work, God bless.

  11. I learned in business we should mirror the prospects. This editorial shows me that focus on prospects that mirror ourselves, will bring ‘long term’ success ratios. Thanks for the insight.

  12. Darren, You have confirmed a principle I have followed for forty years: “In an organizational setting, if you and I agree on everything, one of us is unnecessary.” Keep up your great work, and I’ll disagree with you enough to keep us both necessary.

  13. It’s so true! As a chief nurse i always said that the moment everyone liked me i would question my work, because it ment i was pleasing everyone and not doing what had to be done! In my personal life i took longer to understand that. As a new years resolution i decided to take my life in my own hands, stop being good old Sandra. I can be fair and good and still be honest about what i want and what is best for me! Funny thing is that the moment i started defending my dreams and what i wanted, people started saying i was making myself a victim! So funny, in my way of seing i was doing that all the time i was just trying to please everyone. I believe this is the year i will start turning my life around. Thank you Darren, reading your blog along the years has helped me step by step in becoming a better me.
    Happy New Year!

  14. Is it okay when people around u disagree with me? Probably because of life’s style societal beliefs?

  15. Darren, You are liked too much and your mentorship is valued by so many of us I think you are going to have a hard time pissing people off enough to hate you. Although we and many others are people pleasers and it can and does get in the way of prospering and that IS one of my main downfalls. I am however like the guy above commented, to an extent, too honest and I at times make some enemies along the way. I feel for those of us that have a tendancy to stick up for others and or themselves will no doubt grow some enemies. So if you don’t mind having enemies than either do I. We can’t win everyone over but the ones we do can make our Successes feel even better. Is it true…the more we have the better we feel! Hmmmmm :). Does that go for enemies too? All the best in your endevour Darren. Your Student, Karen

  16. Sorry, I don’t agree. Personally I would not want to be the President of the U.S. – He can keep that job! I think a truely successful person can also be liked and loved. It’s not ok to be dis-liked because you are successful and I don’t believe your suggestion to piss people off is a good way of thinking. Sometimes you might have to shake things up a little and shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, but it should always be with the goal of doing what’s best for everyone. Hopefully Obama has that intention also. Call me for advice anytime! (smile)

  17. @Cheryl McNaughton, I like the way you put it Cheryl. While Darren’s post makes sense, I have to agree with you. While disliking someone because they are successful is childish, disliking them because of their character or actions is different. I think people like Darren because he helps them better themselves and have a more meaningful life.

  18. @Dean,

    Pissing people off the way you’ve described it seems to be more of not really being socially acceptable (being raw honest, tact lacking), a bit like being arrogant, sarcastic maybe? Pissing people off the way Obama has climbed his way up according to Darren is to stick to his chosen path without even trying to be raw honest or socially unacceptable etc because just his belief, consistency, all personal values piss people off. Sometimes being true to yourself pisses off more than being rude or tactless.

    Have a good day.

  19. Some people that I have had the best debates with…..mostly business related debates…..are people that I learn a great deal from as mentors, but they also challenged and frustrated me greatly on a regular basis. I think it is that healthy combination of a ‘love/hate’ relationship that does help us grow as individuals. Challenging people to see other points of view never hurts!!

  20. Being successful at your goal isn’t necessarily admirable when your goal is to deceive. And simply because you make almost half of the population dislike you because it isn’t deceived, doesn’t necessarily make it an admirable way to achieve your success. That said, I think it is great that people like you… I’d say my dislike percentage is higher than yours and my professional success is lower, so perhaps they do not have a causal relationship.

  21. I think the point is to keep doing what you feel is important even if people don’t like you. Opinions change at the drop of a hat but neither positive or negative opinions should direct the plan. I do not wish to piss more people off but I do wish to keep doing what is right, even if I do.

  22. I think the point is do what you need to do and don’t be so taken up with the opinions of others. The opinions change in a flash but your goals will remain intact as long as you keep focused. I do not wish to piss more people off. I wish to keep going forward even if I do because if I m on the right track, eventually that truth will show itself.

  23. Darren,
    Are you Kidding. You are not causing my 95 year old mother to relocate due to Obama Care.
    She is on no medication and that is not enough to be considered to be living in the nursing home she has been in for years. Now her SS and Medicaid is paying the bill. They want to cut 11 hours a week from her and possibly dismiss her from where she calls home. Then our Veterans Administration has been bogged down by mountains of paper work re Obama rules and regulations.
    Darren you are about free enterprise you help empower people, you lead people to a better place and you with your story have inspired many. You would never press a matter Obama Care which is unconstitutional thru and sell it as a saving grace,(when it is truely a mess and costing each one of us money). You would never stop the caring for the mentally handicapped. Just remember that we used to have Mental Health Care Facilities and they no longer exist. Due to budget cuts.
    So my friend. You are one great, leader with character, quality, empathy, ethics and personality. Thank you for Success and all of it’s off shoots who keep us all on the straight and narrow to “Be All That We Can Be”! Darren we need more leaders LIKE YOU! Want to run in 2016? We can start today.

  24. There’s a difference between being liked and having high approval ratings. Approval ratings concern peoples’ confidence in a person’s ability to lead, perform, affect positive changes, make decisions, stand for some principles, etc. I imagine your approval ratings are very high, Darren. You have a track record for earning and maintaining peoples’ confidence in you and what you have to offer. And many of your blogs are tough-talk. I approve! If you’re doing something right, keep doing THAT. Anecdote: A friend of mine once worked with a very famous film director. He said the director, while not overtly rude or mean-spirited, just wasn’t someone he’d ever call likable. No one was quaking in their boots or ‘pissed off’, but the atmosphere on the set was all about people doing what they needed to do and doing it well. My friend said everyone had complete respect for that director and his ability to create a great film (high approval rating). For me, you’ve inspired me to value a high approval rating over the nebulous state of being liked.

  25. @Eric Dodge, Darren’s comment wasn’t whether we see them as positive or negative influences; he was focused on whether they were ‘liked’. They were certainly respected, maybe even held in awe because of their beliefs and actions. But they were not liked all the time. I may not like someone – but it doesn’t have to be negative at all. They may reveal to me something I don’t like in myself. Have a great day!

  26. @Ginger, I completely agree. Although being likable can be a very useful trait, both in business and in life, feeling a “need” to be liked is self-defeating and an inefficient use of one’s energy and focus.

  27. @jheckbert, I suppose you see good or bad in anyone you want. I see them as great people and great examples. I suppose many do see them negative as well but I choose to see them as positive influences. I feel bad for those who look for them in a negative light. Thanks for the response.

  28. Sorry, but IMO, very weak argument. Men have achieved the highest position on earth without having nearly the disapproval rating and a much greater popularity rating. Anytime someone has a house hold name, you can consider them as having left a legacy of some sort. Your scenario hardly fits with man like Zig Ziglar. He changed lives for the better and was admired by the vast majority of those he came in contact with. He was an incredible motivator which translated into a GREAT leader. If you’re going to stand alone, do what you wish and your success will be determined thusly. If you’re going to lead a team and be a team player, your philosophy is way out of line. The subject of your epiphany is not a great leader, nor will be ever be considered one by the majority of the people he’s leading. If that’s the legacy you wish to leave, IMO, that’s extremely unfortunate.

  29. Well said – never thought of it that much but you are SO right! When I look back when I was working for a corporation very few people wanted to stand up and say what they believed for fear they ‘wouldn’t be liked anymore’ by their peers and upper management. I learned real quick that questioning and probing and trying to figure out ways to make things better (which normally would shake the status quo up and nobody liked that much) didn’t make me very many friends. I wish I would have not been so concerned about being ‘liked’ and went for saying/doing what was ‘right’ instead! Darn it Darren, where was this post 8 years ago!! :)

  30. @Eric Dodge, With all due respect, Mother Theresa pissed off a lot of people inside and outside of the Catholic Church so I don’t agree with you on that one. The Pope is not universally liked by people – in fact people have tried to assassinate the last one. The Pope must be controversial as traditional teaching in a secular is guaranteed to piss people off even staunch Catholics. Sorry I can’t agree with either of your examples – and well we know tried to kill Reagan too.

  31. Hi Darren, a TON of people don’t like you. You just don’t know it!

    Think of all those people that watch TV each night instead of reading quality books… They don’t like you.

    Think of all those people that gave up on life and gave up on attracting success… They don’t like you.

    Think of all those people that live with a victim mentality… They don’t like you.

    When you are in the top 3%, it’s easy to feel as if you could be higher on the success ladder (society’s version of it), but then you realize that we are all as high as we want to be on our own interpretation of our success ladder.

    Darren, if you don’t believe that the majority doesn’t like you, simply run for President in 2016 and tell the people about personal responsibility, spending less than you earn, self-discipline, hard work, etc. and you will surely be reminded that the majority doesn’t like you!

    Create an amazing day,
    Ken Kocher

  32. That is exactly what I needed to hear today!!! I was in the middle of a huge business decision, governed by what people would THINK instead of knowing the best outcome. I know what I need to do now. Thank you, Darren. DANG IT I LIKE YOU EVEN MORE NOW. THAT PISSES ME OFF!!

  33. Darren,

    This is one of your best posts and I can totally relate to your point.

    I, my family and our construction company are passionately hated by a construction labor union. They target my home, our neighborhood, our employees, and the communities that we serve with continuous negative slander about how we are greedy and destroying area wage standards.

    The fact is that we treat our employeee excellent, pay them well, provide excellent benefits, and were actually ranked the #1 best place to work in the state of PA by former Governor Tom Ridge.

    Your point of this post actually help me to see the positive in being hated. I realize employers like myself are a threat to the very existence of the big bosses in labor unions. The more they challenge me the more committed we become to caring for our team and delivering world class service.

    Best Regards,

  34. I know you’ll say I missed the point. I get what you’re saying…don’t care what people think and be happy if a lot don’t like you ….as that must mean you are really climbing the corporate ladder! Yeah, yeah,,,,okay Darren. But just to go “against” you which is what you want, right?
    What I do disagree with is the reason so many do NOt “care for” Obama…it’s the policies!!!! It’s the direction he’s taking this nation! Never in my life have I seen a leader of this nation take us in such a destructive path toward well ‘fill in the blank here’. Let me put it this way: we are facing less Capitalism and more government! If that’s not something to go against, I don’t know what is!

  35. Completely agree with your outstanding post Darren…when one trakes a ‘stand’ and has a powerful intention is when one embarks on the road to leadership…there will always be oppostion to the ‘stand’…which is why one takes the ‘stand’ in the first place!

  36. @Ginger, with 4 retail locations and 20+ years experience..realize some customers are black holes. No matter how much you shovel in they are never satisfied. Learn to let go and fire the ones that abuse you. As Darren stated..piss off a few of them! You are now free to focus on the ones that will really grow your business.

  37. Darren,

    I appreciate the point you are attempting to make, but I really do hope that your goal for 2013 is not to piss more people off. I have a hard time believing that is the legacy that you intend to create. I really do not believe for one second that Obama is President because of how many people he has pissed off.

    To put it in perspective: you and I are the same age, you are what I would consider to be a successful person who is on the path to leaving the kind of legacy few in this world could only hope to achieve. I would venture to say that you did that more by who you have not pissed off than by who you have pissed off. I on the other hand own both of your books and am striving to become the success that I have always desired. So to ask the question that Jim Rohn would ask ” why am I not successfull already?” I spent 15 years of my life as a Law Enforcement Officer pissing off more people than you probably ever have. Don’t get me wrong I have helped a lot of people along the way and made many people happy as well but that pendelum swung more to pissed off than not. People don’t like me because I call things the way I see them; I am way too bluntly honest with everyone and everything. I lack tact. Since I have changed careers more people like me and I have been more successful. I have also learned a little tact, but not much. My values keep me bluntly honest to the point that I still piss people off. I believe I would be more successful if I didn’t piss so many people off; if I could instead develope more relationships where people liked me and appreciated my honesty. One of my goals this year is to develope more relationships that are good solid happy relationships. I am not currently successful to my standard but that is my fault and I am diligently, persistantly working and striving to change that with your mentorship.

    Now to the point….I believe the success of the person is influenced more by the “Good” relationships they build than by the “Bad” relationships they create. Obama is the President of the United States not because of the “Bad” relationships he has with many Americans but because of the few great or outstanding “Good” relationships with the “right” people in the “right” circles of influence that gives him the most leverage for his time.He is also President because at a 49% disapproval rate that means that 51% of Americans are NOT pissed off at him.

    Anytime you want to run for President, I guarantee you have my vote because you would leave a legacy far greater than any previous President to date. I firmly believe that because that is how much I firmly believe in you, your values, your success habits, and the legacy you have already created.

    Your Mentee
    Dean Rebel

  38. What a fantastic goal, I think you might have just inspired me to do the same. For me it might not be too difficult, as of yet I’m only worthy enough of using a spade to carve my dent in the universe. But if you’re already using a digger, like you, then I think you might struggle that extra bit to push the buttons of the masses.

    Either way, I wish you good luck with your endeavour! It’s definitely a thought-provoking idea, may the best of diligence, discipline and determination be with you!

  39. Could it be that what you have to say is not arguable meaning that key principles to success are basic priciples rather than an opinion or position to be debated?

  40. You make a great point Darren. As you climb that ladder, it gets lonelier, but they are still people that will agree with you and support you. Having to cut away from the heard is one of the first challenges we face, but not returning to the heard is more difficult. Keep moving forward!

  41. You are so right – we are always told people must know, like and trust you – but he is living proof that not everyone and may most don’t have to in order for you to be successful.

  42. Being nice and being liked in the business world are not synonymous. Your point is well delivered. You can be a nice & caring individual, that will not change if it is your value. Worrying about pleasing everyone and being liked by everyone IS the problem to being able to achieve all that you aspire to achieve because it keeps you from believing in yourself and taking the steps necessary to move forward. You cannot please everyone. You cannot stay true to yourself if you do. Wanting everyone to like you makes it impossible because either you hide or you don’t make decisions or move forward in fear of not being liked or you become two faced in order to be liked by everyone. The result is not living the life you really want and always being stressed out and disappointed. Believe me, I own a retail business and I have learned this the hard way. I am a major people pleaser and hate conflict so I go out of my way to make everyone happy and keep the peace. I am far from winning with this strategy.

  43. I’m all in. Time to write some radical stuff that clearly draws a line in the sand between what I believe in and what I don’t. That should make a few people very happy and others vehemently angry.

    Fantastic insight Darren!

  44. From all outward appearances, you appear to have the sort of personality that naturally encourages and brings out the best in others. It’s probably a given that if we actually met the President, we would find him to be likeable in a social, hospitable sense as well. Perhaps it’s really not about “likeability” as much as it is about pushing the status quo with new ideas or with making people a bit uncomfortable because their comfort zone is being stretched. One can be warm and friendly (likable) and still make us cringe with discomfort because we can’t fathom the uncharted territory that they are leading us into.

  45. Darren,
    I agree with you that to move up the ladder you need to take chances. You cannot hit Homeruns unless you take a swing at the ball and alot of times you will probably strike out or hit a lazy fly ball. I do disagree in the example you used. To be successful you do not need to be so polarizing. A much, much better example would be Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan. Sure you can not please everyone all the time, but is it not better to minimize as much as you can.

  46. I think there are very succesful people who are succesful because they were liked. I look at the pope or Mother Theresa. Ronald Regan was liked by an overwhelming majority. Some people become the most powerful people because they are liked. You are stuck with being liked Darren Hardy. Maybe you will be the one to break the mold. Great post and so true in many ways.

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