Amongst their various life stories and experiences two simple themes cropped up over and over again i) Perseverance and ii) Altruism. Here’s what I found.

1. Stay restless in your desire to succeed

Simply working hard on its own is not enough. There needs to be an end point – a target, a vision, a goal – that has to be pursued with perseverance and single mindedness (which is where the hard work comes in).

Being faithful to this isn’t easy. Especially if, like me, you tend to move towards compromise at times of conflict. If your belief is strong enough, hold your ground, and keep going (my first objective for 2014).

Tim Berners-Lee (www inventor)

I don’t believe in the sort of ‘Eureka’ moment idea. I think it’s a myth. I’m very suspicious that actually Archimedes had been thinking about that problem for a long time. And it wasn’t that suddenly it came to him.

Ajay Bhatt (USB co-inventor, who spent six years lobbying to get his idea adopted)

Initially, it was difficult for them to understand the merits. We had a big tent and we included everybody, we listened to everybody’s input and tried to address them to the best of our abilities and that’s why USB is successful.

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook co-founder)

… we just sat at our computers for six years and coded.

Pierre Omidyar (ebay founder)

They’ll have an idea… they’ll convince themselves or other people will convince them that it can’t be done… Actually I think that the first is even more dangerous and more serious.

Steve Jobs (Apple co-founder)

You always have to keep pushing to innovate. Dylan could have sung protest songs forever and probably made a lot of money, but he didn’t. He had to move on, and when he did, by going electric in 1965, he alienated a lot of people. His 1966 Europe tour was his greatest…. as Dylan says, if you are not busy being born, you’re busy dying.

Niklas Zennström (Skype co-founder)

First of all we were very focused as a team to make Skype’s core product the global standard… 

2. Enrich the experience

Any project undertaken must be for the genuine benefit of end-users. Projects & platforms like ebay, the Rasberry Pi, Yahoo, Facebook and even the invention of the world wide web, didn’t begin with the intention of making money.

Financial success came on the back of highly successful user engagement and subsequent customer take-up. I think I’m going to paraphrase this goal for 2014 as ‘Avoid creating cr*p for the sake of creating cr*p’. 

Eben Upton (Raspberry Pi co-inventor)

People often say ‘Don’t you worry that somebody is going to steal your idea?’ but to be honest, deep down, I’ve always hoped that somebody would.

Larry Page (Google co-founder)

If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning… You want to be working on meaningful, impactful projects, and that’s the thing there is really a shortage of in the world.

Pierre Omidyar (ebay founder)

…so with eBay, the whole idea there was just to help people do business with one another on the internet.

David Filo (Yahoo co-founder)

Thousands of people were producing new web sites every day. We were just trying to take all that stuff and organize it to make it useful.

Jakob Nielson (Usability guru and author)

If you read this book and put it away I will have failed… I am an evangelist at heart, and I want you to be able to provide better services to your users.

Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia co-founder)

People take issue with individual aspects of Wikipedia all the time. But it’s kind of hard to hate the general idea of a free encyclopedia. It’s like hating kittens.

So thanks to these words of wisdom, I now have two clear goals in mind for 2014. 

What about you?