Ideas Worth Spreading: Student Explores the True Meaning of Success

Nathalie Falcao, '17

Nathalie Falcao, '17

Alex Rider '18, Features Editor

On April 30th, Junior Nathalie Falcao ‘17 presented a TEDx Talk at Burlington High School on what success really is. TED is a nonprofit organization whose constituents attend conventions and give lectures on a topic falling under the category of Technology, Entertainment, or Design. For quite some time, Nathalie aspired to share her own ideas on the topic of success by giving a TED Talk, but lacked the proper funds necessary to maintain a membership as part of TED. Then she found out about TEDx – an independent event where one can share his or her TED Talk locally and for free. Nathalie said, “It’s an easier way to give TED talks while still remaining on a respectable platform.”

Watch her TEDX talk!

Nathalie chose the topic of “How to Be Successful,” ultimately explaining how people in general need to refocus their perception of success towards helping others rather than benefitting oneself. She said, “We are not on this planet for our own personal gain, but to help others. Many times, this comes in the form of cleaning up the messes that other people have set up previously. Since human beings are naturally faulty, this is a continuous cycle. What’s important here is that we should not be focusing on miniscule things, such as grades, money, appearance, and other small accomplishments, because it really does not matter.”

Growing up, Nathalie viewed receiving good grades, going to an Ivy League college, becoming a doctor or lawyer or CEO, and thus becoming “successful” and rich as her top priority in life. As she got older, she began to see that this process was unfulfilling and was causing her to become unhappy. She says, “In the end, all you want to be is happy. In metaphysics this year, we learned that the way to attain pure happiness is by helping others. When you are serving others, you don’t think about what you’ve done wrong, like you would if you just took a test, but rather, you reflect on the good deeds you’ve done. This is because, in helping others, you are not looking for any personal gain. With this knowledge, I looked back on the life I am living, and I saw that the point-by-point plan I had made for myself was ridiculous. Once anyone achieves their big career, wealthiness, and thus their planned-out version of ‘success,’ they will still be wanting to achieve more. However, there is nothing left for them to achieve because this is not a fulfilling lifestyle. There is no point in life if all you are trying to do is obtain superficial things that do not matter.


“Being successful is not defined by having boatloads of money, but rather, by being a good and loving person to others and to yourself. I’m not telling everyone that you should be completely devoid of ambition or to completely slack off in school, because it is good to have some ambition and to want to do well. I’m telling everyone to set their priorities in place, and to put others first.”


Nathalie Falcao '17 spreads her ideas on the true meaning of success in her TEDx Talk.
Nathalie Falcao ’17 spreads her ideas on the true meaning of success in her TEDx Talk.

To hear more about what Nathalie has to say on success, check out the link that will be appearing soon in her biography section on her Instagram account (@nathaliervf). If you have any questions for Nathalie, she’ll be more than happy to chat with you.