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  • - [Stephen] Perhaps because I realized

  • I might not have much time,

  • I renewed my efforts to tackle

  • the big question in cosmology in the early '60s.

  • I have been very lucky that my disability

  • has not been a serious handicap.

  • I faced a life unable to properly communicate.

  • All hopes of finishing my book,

  • and perhaps even my career, seemed to be over.

  • - He's an English physicist, author,

  • and professor at the University of Cambridge.

  • He has a rare form of ALS that has gradually paralyzed him

  • over the past few decades.

  • He hasn't let that stop him though

  • and he's become a bestselling author,

  • and one of the greatest scientists of our generation.

  • He's Stephen Hawking,

  • and here's my take on his top 10 rules for success.

  • Rule number one is my personal favorite.

  • Make sure to stick around all the way to the end

  • for a special bonus clip.

  • Also when Stephen's talking,

  • if he says something that really resonates with you,

  • please leave it in the comments below,

  • and put quotes around it,

  • so other people can be inspired as well.

  • Enjoy.

  • (elegant music)

  • - [Stephen] The decline in my health

  • was a stark reminder, that time was against me.

  • Yet despite the pressures in my family,

  • I was determined to realize a lifelong ambition,

  • by writing a popular book about how the universe had begun.

  • I wanted the book to be read by millions of people

  • around the world, like a bestselling airport novel.

  • - I did not think it would work.

  • I did not think it would work,

  • because basically if you look

  • at all the other books in airports,

  • there are none like that.

  • - [Stephen] However, I felt sure that

  • the mass market would want to know

  • about how the universe began.

  • By 1984, I had completed the first chapter.

  • I signed up with Peter,

  • and set to work completing the first draft of my book.

  • I tried to simplify the physics as best I could

  • and by the end I was pleased,

  • and felt it was in pretty good shape,

  • but Peter wasn't convinced.

  • - I was pretty disappointed.

  • Yeah, I thought this is going to be really difficult.

  • - [Stephen] Lightning, did indeed strike,

  • but not in the way that Peter and I were hoping.

  • That summer I had taken a break from rewriting

  • to travel to Switzerland on holiday,

  • but while I was there I caught a chest infection,

  • that developed into pneumonia,

  • and quickly became very serious.

  • I was put into a drug induced coma,

  • and on to a life support machine.

  • The doctors thought I was so far gone,

  • they offered to Jane to turn off the machine,

  • but she refused.

  • Finally, Jane insisted that I was flown back to Cambridge.

  • The weeks of intensive care were the darkest of my life.

  • I felt I had always fought my illness so hard,

  • that I was not prepared to give in so easily.

  • Slowly the drugs began to work,

  • and the infection passed,

  • but the surgeons had to perform a tracheotomy,

  • to allow me to breathe which made

  • a small incision in my windpipe,

  • and connected me to a ventilator via the hole in my throat.

  • As a result, I was now robbed of the ability to talk.

  • I faced a life unable to properly communicate.

  • All hopes of finishing my book

  • and perhaps even my career, seemed to be over.

  • I had enough movement in my right hand

  • to be able to click the computer system

  • and write the words I wanted.

  • Finally, I was free to communicate again.

  • I was keen to make up the lost time

  • that my illness had forced upon me.

  • I had a stack of notes from Peter Guzzardi

  • suggesting changes and clarifications to my book,

  • but I needed practical help with the rewrite at my end.

  • Someone who could act as a go between.

  • - [Man] This is keeping the graphic

  • as simple as we can.

  • - [Stephen] After months of work the rewrite was complete.

  • None of us really knew whether the book

  • would be liked and would sell as we all hoped for.

  • All we could do now was give it a title,

  • A Brief History of Time,

  • send it off to the printers, and wait.

  • (exciting music)

  • But to everyone's surprise,

  • the book sold copy after copy,

  • and very quickly bookshops were selling out.

  • - When it hit the bestseller list,

  • you're obviously surprised.

  • It was a pleasant surprise,

  • and it certainly was a surprise.

  • I don't think you'll find anybody, maybe I'm wrong,

  • who will say oh yes, we knew all along,

  • this was going to be a major hit.

  • - I had no expectation that it would

  • be the number one bestselling book in the world.

  • Not just here, but Germany, Slovenia, France, Italy,

  • everywhere in the world there was the hope,

  • that someone had found the mystery of life.

  • - From then on, it was just a race

  • to keep the book in print,

  • and marching towards a million copies sold.

  • - It was very gratifying.

  • In the 38 years that I've been in this business,

  • I don't think I've ever had a book

  • that's stayed at the top of the bestseller list that long.

  • - I was amazed at how well it did.

  • I think it worked.

  • He inspired people.

  • He gave people some overall sense

  • of the birth of the universe.

  • It made this subject become a subject of conversation

  • among people in all walks of life.

  • - [Woman] Professor Stephen Hawking's book

  • A Brief History of Time,

  • an unlikely but successful publishing phenomena.

  • - [Man] A Brief history of Time has sold

  • about eight million copies.

  • - [Man] A popular book about his theories

  • is already topping the American bestsellers list.

  • - [Woman] The hugely successful,

  • A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking.

  • - [Stephen] A Brief History of Time

  • stayed on the bestseller list for over four years

  • and entered into the Guinness Book of Records for doing so.

  • To date, over 10 million copies have been sold worldwide.

  • Over the next few years a lot of fuss

  • was made about my book.

  • I became famous nationally and around the world,

  • as it was translated into 40 different languages.

  • If one is disabled, one should concentrate

  • on the things one can do,

  • and not regret the things one can't do.

  • - Given how hard it is for you to communicate.

  • You mentioned in the film, how sometimes,

  • when people are chatting,

  • your thoughts drift off into

  • things like how the universe began.

  • Do you think in some ways your disability

  • has made you a better scientist?

  • - [Stephen] I must admit I do tend

  • to drift off to thinking about physics or black holes

  • when I get left behind in the conversation.

  • In fact, my disability has been a help in a way.

  • It has freed me from teaching

  • or sitting on boring committees,

  • and given me more time to think and do research.

  • Theoretical physics is one of the few fields

  • in which being disabled is no handicap.

  • It's all in the mind.

  • Falling in love and getting engaged

  • was the motivation that I needed.

  • If I were to get married, I had to get a job,

  • and to get a job I had to finish my PhD.

  • I therefore started working hard

  • for the first time in my life.

  • To my surprise, I found I liked it.

  • Perhaps because I realized I might not have much time,

  • I renewed my efforts to tackle the

  • big question in cosmology in the early '60s.

  • Did the universe have a beginning or not?

  • Having lived on this wonderful planet

  • for over 71 years, I feel my proudest achievement

  • has been to inspire people to think

  • about the cosmos and our place in it.

  • Since I believe there is no afterlife,

  • I think it's important to realize

  • we only have a very short time alive,

  • and should make the best of it.

  • All my life I have sought to understand the universe

  • and find answers to these questions.

  • I have been very lucky that my disability

  • has not been a serious handicap.

  • Indeed, it has probably given me more time

  • than most people to pursue the quest for knowledge.

  • As a small boy I used to take things apart.

  • I wanted to find out how they worked.

  • That is still what I want,

  • but I've moved on to bigger things, like the universe.

  • The thrill of discovering something

  • no one knew before, is like nothing else I know.

  • I want to share my excitement with everyone.

  • My main challenge has been Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS.

  • I have had it since I was 21,

  • but it has not prevented me from exploring

  • the universe with my mind,

  • or having three wonderful children.

  • I have lived over two thirds of my life,

  • with the threat of death hanging over me.

  • Because every new day could be my last,

  • I have developed a desire to make

  • the most of each and every minute.

  • Although I'm 71 now, I still go to work every day

  • at Cambridge University.

  • - I'll see you in a bit.

  • Going shopping.

  • - [Stephen] Keeping an active mind

  • has been vital to my survival.

  • As has been maintaining a sense of humor.

  • - [Man] You clearly have a very good sense of humor.

  • Many will remember your appearance in the Simpsons.

  • - [Crowd] Stephen Hawking!

  • - The world's smartest man.

  • - [Stephen] I'm probably better known

  • for my appearances on The Simpson's,

  • and The Big Bang Theory,

  • than I am for my scientific discoveries.

  • I've made a cameo appearance on Star Trek,

  • my favorite Sci-fi show.

  • - You are bluffing.

  • - [Stephen] Wrong again, Albert.

  • I find humor and a few jokes

  • are a great help in a lecture

  • on the mysteries of the universe.

  • (elegant music)

  • Ever since the dawn of civilization,

  • people have craved for an understanding

  • of the underlying order of the world.

  • There ought to be something very special

  • about the renditions of the universe.

  • What can be more special,

  • than that there is no boundary?

  • There should be no boundary to human endeavor.

  • The Olympic games are all about transforming

  • our perception of the world.

  • We are all different.

  • There is no such thing as a standard

  • or run of the mill human being,

  • but we share the same human spirit.

  • However difficult life may seem,

  • there is always something you can do and succeed at.

  • I feel a sense of achievement that

  • I have managed to make these contributions,

  • despite having ALS.

  • I have not allowed my disability

  • to stop me doing most things.

  • My motto is there are no boundaries.

  • Thank you.

  • (audience applause)

  • - Thank you guys so much for watching.

  • I made this video because parijatprakash asked me to.

  • If there's a famous entrepreneur that

  • you want me to profile next, leave it in the comments below,

  • and I'll see what I can do.

  • I'm also curious to figure out

  • what did Stephen say that had

  • the biggest and most profound impact on you?