Some of the biggest names in business have failed over and over, and that makes them great studies in success. From finding motivation to learning how to become a great leader to understanding how to reach your customers, these quotes from some of the world’s most brilliant businessmen and women can help you find the courage to start a new career, graduate from college, or just keep trying.
Success and Failure
Learn why failure is more important than success.
- "Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success," Dale Carnegie: Salesman and corporate training expert Dale Carnegie advises learning from your mistakes.
- "Patience is a key element of success," Bill Gates: Just because you don’t succeed right away doesn’t mean it isn’t coming.
- "Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition, is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have," Dale Carnegie: Don’t waste your time and talent fearing failure or feeling sorry for yourself.
- "Action is the foundational key to all success," Pablo Picasso: The revolutionary artist was a firm believer in just going for it.
- "Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success. They quit on the one yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game one foot from a winning touchdown," Ross Perot: Businessman and politician Ross Perot should make you think really hard before quitting.
- "Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit," Conrad Hilton: When you feel like being lazy, remember this quote.
- "I think if you look at people, whether in business or government, who haven’t had any moral compass, who’ve just changed to say whatever they thought the popular thing was, in the end they’re losers," Michael Bloomberg: You’ll have a better chance at long-term success if you remember this quote from Michael Bloomberg.
- "Sandwich every bit of criticism between two thick layers of praise," Mary Kay Ash: If you only concentrate on the negative, you’ll never learn from your mistakes.
- "Obviously everyone wants to be successful, but I want to be looked back on as being very innovative, very trusted and ethical and ultimately making a big difference in the world," Sergey Brin: Google co-founder Sergey Brin advises that you might need to redefine your understanding of success to be happy and ambitious.
- "Failure is success if we learn from it," Malcolm Forbes: Forbes magazine publisher Malcolm Forbes turns failure around in this quote.
- "It doesn’t matter how many times you fail. It doesn’t matter how many times you almost get it right. No one is going to know or care about your failures, and neither should you. All you have to do is learn from them and those around you because… All that matters in business is that you get it right once. Then everyone can tell you how lucky you are," Mark Cuban: You don’t get famous for making a few mistakes that no one pays attention to, so don’t be afraid to try new things.
These quotes should illuminate the most important qualities of leadership.
- "Men who do things without being told draw the most wages," Edwin H. Stuart: Don’t feel comfortable just being told what to do: make your own suggestions and get people to listen to you.
- "I am brave, but I take a view. It is an educated view. I am careful. I am not reckless," Sir Philip Green: Being the boss doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want: you still have to make responsible, educated decisions.
- "No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit," Andrew Carnegie: One-time "richest man in the world" Andrew Carnegie knew how to share the credit.
- "In motivating people, you’ve got to engage their minds and their hearts. I motivate people, I hope, by example…and perhaps by excitement, by having productive ideas to make others feel involved," Rupert Murdoch: Let this quote inspire you to build a team that truly feels invested in your ideas.
- "He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money," Benjamin Franklin: Learn how to control greed and really believe in your mission statement and purpose.
- "Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things," Peter Drucker: This quote from social ecologist and management consultant Peter Drucker explains good leadership and management here.
- "If you don’t drive your business, you will be driven out of business," B.C. Forbes: Remember this mantra when you feel listless, lazy or out of control.
- "You have to have doubts. I have collaborators I work with. I listen and then I decide. That’s how it works," Giorgio Armani: Decision-making is fundamental to good leadership.
- "Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve," Mary Kay Ash: Trust yourself, as Mary Kay Ash councils.
- "Leaders — and you can take anyone from Roosevelt to Churchill to Reagan — inspire people with clear visions of how things can be done better. Some managers, on the other hand, muddle things with pointless complexity and detail. They equate (managing) with sophistication, with sounding smarter than anyone else. They inspire no one," Jack Welch: Know what true leadership really stands for.
Let these quotes inspire you when you’re feeling unmotivated or confused.
- "All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them," Walt Disney: Entrepreneurs, new graduates and anyone worried about a career change or new proposition can find encouragement from this quote.
- "Anyone who has lost track of time when using a computer knows the propensity to dream, the urge to make dreams come true and the tendency to miss lunch," Tim Berners-Lee: Berners-Lee credits the computer with being an inspirational tool, too.
- "High expectations are the key to everything," Sam Walton: Don’t just dream big: have big expectations, too.
- "Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game," Donald Trump: Money is certainly a reward, but never lose sight of why you’re in business.
- "Can we change the world? No, but hell, we can all try," Rupert Murdoch: Just because something seems impossible doesn’t mean the effort isn’t worth it.
- "Enthusiasm is a vital element toward the individual success of every man or woman," Conrad Hilton: If you don’t feel inspired by your product or venture, you may not find success, either.
- "It’s through curiosity and looking at opportunities in new ways that we’ve always mapped our path at Dell. There’s always an opportunity to make a difference," Michael Dell: Remember this quote when you’re stuck for where to take our company next.
- "I feel sorry for the person who can’t get genuinely excited about his work. Not only will he never be satisfied, but he will never achieve anything worthwhile," Walter Chrysler: Having an interest in your job shouldn’t be a luxury: it should be a necessity.
- "I am not looking like Armani today and somebody else tomorrow. I look like Ralph Lauren. And my goal is to constantly move in fashion and move in style without giving up what I am," Ralph Lauren: While you can be mindful of the competition, never lose sight on what you stand for, and what you bring to consumers.
Supplement your business degree with advice from Rupert Murdoch, Peter Drucker, J. Paul Getty and others.
- "You’ve got to look for a gap, where competitors in a market have grown lazy and lost contact with the readers or the viewers," Rupert Murdoch: Find out what you’re best at, and make yourself indispensable.
- "A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it," William Feather: Sometimes, you need to make investments or think creatively, even when your budget is tight.
- "Business, that’s easily defined – it’s other people’s money," Peter Drucker: Peter Drucker may shatter your idealistic expectations of the business world, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
- "Business is a combination of war and sport," Andre Maurois: You’ll need strategy and a thick skin to stay on top.
- "I buy when other people are selling," J. Paul Getty: Getty continues to give advice to go against the grain and think for yourself.
- "Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business," Warren Buffett: Don’t scam the customer out of something really great if you’re trying to pitch good quality.
- "Our business is about technology, yes. But it’s also about operations and customer relationships," Michael Dell: No matter what industry you’re, the basics of good business remain the same.
- "Well, when you’re trying to create things that are new, you have to be prepared to be on the edge of risk," Michael Eisner: If you think being progressive and innovative is easy and stress-free, you’re not being creative enough.
- "I believe my concepts are more than just business, they are about our culture," Minoru Mori: Japanese business man — and one of the richest men in the world — Minoru Mori offers brilliant insight into a recipe for success and customer relations.
- "Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years," Warren Buffett: Buffett offers great advice for investing.
Learning and Goals
Here you’ll find quotes on success, continuing education, and ambition.
- "To succeed in business, to reach the top, an individual must know all it is possible to know about that business," J. Paul Getty: J. Paul Getty inspires us to never stop learning.
- "My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had – every day I’m learning something new," Richard Branson: Remember that there’s always something to be learned, no matter how old you are or how many degrees you have.
- "Education is the foundation of success. Just as scholastic skills are vitally important, so are financial skills and communication skills," Robert Kiyosaki: You don’t have to go back to school to keep learning.
- "In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later," Harold S. Geneen : One of the most oft-quoted business lessons, Geneen’s suggestion cautions against early greed and complacency.
- "There’s no good idea that can’t be improved on," Michael Eisner: No matter how great you think you’re doing, there’s always room for improvement.
- "If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own, Henry Ford: Challenge yourself to always consider another point of view, too.
- "Russia on its path has oftentimes discussed and overdiscussed what had happened earlier, instead of moving forward. The result is always the same: It is very difficult to move forward when you’re looking backward," Mikhail Khodorkovsky: Former chairman and CEO of Yukos Oil Corporation Mikhail Khodorkovsky notes a great comparison between Russian and poor business strategy.
- "We are not animals. We are not a product of what has happened to us in our past. We have the power of choice," Stephen Covey: Always exercise your power to make your own decisions and choices.
- "It is extremely unlikely that anyone coming out of school with a technical degree will go into one area and stay there. Today’s students have to look forward to the excitement of probably having three or four careers," Gordon Moore: Retired chairman and CEO of Intel Gordon Moore is spot-on with his prediction of higher education and the future job market.
- It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family," Sir Philip Green: Don’t forget to strive for a healthy balance in your personal life, too.
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