Richard St. John was awarded an OCAD Mclean Traveling Scholarship after graduating at the top of his Industrial Design class. Loving Japanese design, he yearned to explore Japan and Asia, and bought an Air Canada one-way ticket. First stop was Tokyo and St. John set out to explore his two passions, design and photography. Navigating by trains and hitchhiking, but in order to have more freedom to take in different sights he bought a bike; strapped his camera bag on the front, and backpack on the back. Peddling around for a year, thousands of miles through Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Laos, Burma and across India from Calcutta to Bombay, stopping thousands of times to explore, learn, and photograph the wonderful architecture, design, and people of Asia, that travel experience was “one of the best years of (his) life."
Travel also paved the way for his future success, as he “was pushed to practice skills that would make for a better designer and photographer." Those skills included becoming a better planner and problem solver, and more self-reliant and adaptable “and the OCAD Travel Scholarship is what made it all possible”. He notes, “By meeting many people along the way I pushed through shyness and learned to communicate more effectively. So OCAD and the Travel Scholarship were really the launch pad for my future success."
Richard achieved success as a member of scientific staff at Nortel Networks R&D labs. For ten years, he was a researcher, marketing guru, and CEO speechwriter. He spent ten years doing over 500 face-to-face interviews with many of the world’s most successful people, including Bill Gates, Martha Stewart, Richard Branson, the Google founders, Rupert Murdoch, and the list goes on. He wrote a bestselling book The 8 Traits Successful People Have in Common: 8 To Be Great. Bill Gates personally asked for a copy. He is best known for his TED Talk “8 Secrets of Success.” It has over 8.5 million views, and is one of the “Most Viewed TED Talks” (of 2,000 talks) as well as “The Most Translated” TED Talk (66 languages). By researching success, and using his OCAD skills to communicate it visually and simply, his talks and books are helping millions worldwide.
“Last year I realized it was time to give back. My wife and I donate to charities every year, but I wanted to thank OCAD in a bigger way. So we made a donation and OCAD set up an ongoing Richard St. John Travel Scholarship. So now more students will have the same wonderful opportunity that I had so many years ago to travel, learn, and expand their minds. Doing it on a bicycle is optional."