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Success is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due every day

This summer I had the esteemed privilege of being a keynote speaker in front of 8000 of the world’s top financial professionals at The Million Dollar Roundtable. Recently someone asked me “Rory, aren’t you intimidated talking in front of people of that caliber?” My response, “absolutely not.”


Because contrary to what you might think, it’s not successful people that are too good to learn anything – they got to where they are by being a student of the game. Quite the contrary, it’s the marginal producers of the world who are typically cynical, inconvincible skeptics. It’s the mediocre performers, the average among the masses, the naysayers and the un-excellent that are the ones who often think they know it all.

Successful people, on the other hand live by The Rent Axiom from Southwestern mentioned in Take the Stairs that says “Success is never owned; it is only rented – and the rent is due everyday.”

People who are successful embrace the idea that the rent is due every day. They welcome the challenge. They remain humble knowing that whatever they did yesterday isn’t enough to last them forever, and they remain hungry knowing that whatever they’ve accomplished in their past shouldn’t restrict them to what new heights they can achieve in their future.

Successful people became successful by doing the work that no one else would do. They paid the price that no one else was willing to pay. And they developed the attitude that success isn’t something that is bestowed overnight – but that it’s earned over time.

So no, I’m not intimidated by them- I’m inspired by them. They are people who are on the journey just like me. They are people who know enough to know that they don’t have it all figured out.

And so instead, we take pride in, and are thankful for one more day, where we get the privilege to pay our dues.


  • NewYorkNic

    A couple weeks ago, I was asked to speak at our New York Life General Office meeting in Huntsville about my experience and takeaways from the Executive Council meeting in Orlando. I graciously accepted the offer to share with my peers. At the meeting, in the front row, was Mack Vann. (Mr. New York Life) Mack has been an agent with the company for 50 years now and has made Council too many years to count, so I knew nothing I had to say would interest him. But yet there he was, with his piercing blue eyes, staring at me with anticipation. As I spoke, he took notes, hanging on my every word. Watching…listening…writing. When I finished speaking, he applauded. And I will forever be humbled, never to forget one simple truth: The best of us remain students until we leave this place. We are never too good nor are we ever too old to learn one more trick, one more good habit, one more positive way to affect this world. Thanks Mack. I was the one speaking but I learned more by watching you take notes from a poor kid that grew up in Grassy, AL.

  • rory_vaden

    I LOVE this story Nic! Very awesome. Seeing it on your Facebook page inspired me some as to the angle of this blog post. I have a story very similar to yours with Mack when I met an 86 year old man named Andy Corliss!

  • This is such a great post. Supports Jim Rohn’s “You are the average of the 5 people you spend your time with.” Successful people learn from everything vs. looking for flaws to point out. Loved this!

  • NewYorkNic

    Hey Mike! I’m not sure if you were commenting on my post or Rory’s, but if you were talking about mine, thanks! Mack is a very influential force in my life.

  • Ahmad Alnuwaiser

    Dear Rory,
    Greetings from Riyadh
    This is an obvious great lesson with an amazing way of presenting!
    Appreciated efforts
    Life is always good

  • Thanks Ahmad! Appreciate you tuning in and look forward to staying connected!

  • Valerie Champion

    I so learning to take the stairs! You were awesome at our meeting in Nashville! Looking forward to growing with you!

  • Sarah Helen Ahern

    Hi Rory,
    I’m a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant. A lady in my unit recently attended your presentation with her “other job” and brought your books back to our unit meetings. It has been a pleasure to listen to Take the Stairs as I drive. I appreciate your humor and insight. I’m listening to Stairs again and am looking forward to procrastinate on Purpose!!
    Have a great day!
    Sarah Ahern

  • Eric

    Rory, I have been following your success since I met you in Malaysia. Personally I am amazed how incredible you are. I’ve learned so much from you that fighting my demons becomes a passion rather than a mental slaughter. Keep paying the rent so that the rest of us can step up and join you.