The Little Book of Business Wisdom

Business Wisdom

Note: I like this book because it's real leadership guidance from real leaders who have really done it well and who look back to identify the source of their success. Each chapter is very short and focuses on a list of leadership or success tips from a famous business leader from the past few decades, in their own words, from J Paul Getty to Bill Gates.

Most are American business leaders. Many from quite a long way back. I like that as I think a lot of this stuff is timeless and we can focus too much on assuming 'new' is better when it often isn't. - Phil

Here are selected extracts from 4 Leaders featured in the book

Harold S. Geneen

1. The late Harold S. Geneen, former President of ITT Corporation

Don't THINK by the rules

"You must play by the rules, going through the channels of the company structure, taking no shortcuts; but you don't have to think by the rules. It would be a great mistake to confine your imagination to the way things have always been done. In fact, it would consign you to the mediocrity of the marketplace."

Bill Gates

2. Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft

"Savvy Leadership: Twice a year, Gates would personally visit archrival WordPerfect’s best customers, seeking to understand why they chose WordPerfect over Microsoft’s Word.”

"Smart Habit: While en route to an unfamiliar place, Gates voraciously reads books and magazine articles about it – the material is often recommended by local managers – and then asks plenty of follow-up questions once he is there.

While in India, he discovered that there were 14 distinct languages and realized Microsoft’s products had to be much more localized, ultimately fuelling sales."

Sam Walton

3. The late Sam Walton, Founder of Wal-Mart

Get everyone in the company talking. Then listen to the conversations.

"Listen to everyone in your company. And figure out ways to get them talking.

The folks on the front lines – the ones who actually talk to the customer – are the only ones who really know what’s going on out there. You’d better find out what they know. This really is what total quality is all about.

To push responsibility down in your organization, and to force good ideas to bubble up within it, you must listen to what your associates are trying to tell you.”

Carly Fiorina

4. Carly Fiorina, former CEO, Hewlett-Packard

7 Principles for Personal and Business Growth

  1. "Recognise the power of the team; no one succeeds alone.
  2. "Never, never, never, never given in,” to quote Winston Churchill. Most great wins happen on the last play.
  3. Strike a balance between confidence and humility – enough confidence to know that you can make a real difference, enough humility to ask for that help.
  4. Love what you do. Success requires passion.
  5. Seek tough challenges: they’re more fun.
  6. Have an unflinching, clear-eyed vision of the goal, followed by absolute clarity, realism and objectivity and what it really will take to grow, to lead and to win.
  7. Understand that the only limits that really matter are those you put on yourself, or that a business puts on itself. Most people and businesses are capable of far more than they realize."


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