During two years of business school at Stanford, I wrote down the best advice from our professors and lecturers. This advice is from my favorite teachers and lecturers, including Andy Rachleff, Mark Leslie, Irv Grousbeck, Joel Peterson, Eric Schmidt, and many others.
Admittedly, a lot of this is focused on technology industry, but much is generally applicable. I thought it might be interesting to others.
- Successful people listen. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that ratio. You learn more when you listen than when you talk.
- Pare to principle. Always look for the 80/20. 80% of the value is delivered by 20% of the product/service. Focus on that 20 percent.
- The importance of passion. When Warren Buffet finds people to run his business, his key criteria is to find somebody who would do the job whether they would get paid or not.
- Be likable. People who are liked have the wind at their backs. So be liked.
- Just when you think you’ve got it 100% right, you can be taken down.
- People who are lucky make their own luck. And you only make your own luck by staying in the game.
- Put on “the cloak” of leadership. A large part of your role is to inspire and motivate your employees, and people will look to you for confidence. If you were on a plane with engine problems, you don’t want the pilot to say “I am exploring a number of options and hope that…”, you want him to say, “I will do whatever it takes to land this plane.”
- The outcome of a negotiation is largely a function of your alternatives. Know your next best option.
- You will only be as good as the people you will recruit. Media and culture celebrate individuals, but teams succeed.
- The best scientists can explain complex issues in simple terms. Pretty good scientists can explain complex issues in complex terms.
- As hire As. Bs hire Cs. Always strive to hire people better than you are.
- Be a clear, fair manager. For example, when speaking to a business unit leader that isn’t succeeding, say, “I want a strategy to win in one-page and the objectives we need to hit each quarter to reach them.”
- When considering a business opportunity, look for change. What inflection point are you taking advantage of? Without change, there is rarely opportunity.
- When in doubt, just keep selling. Not a bad default strategy to communicate to your team.
- Be humble. The markets are brutal to those who are arrogant.
- Understand what you don’t do well. Surround yourself with people and resources that can do these things well.
- Practice self-discipline. Set targets, have timetables, have clear unambiguous goals. Life passes quickly – days, weeks, months, years, a lifetime. “Regret for the things we did, can be tempered by time. It is regret for the things that we did not do that is inconsolable.”
- Be yourself. In group settings, you usually serve the group best by thoughtfully expressing exactly what you are thinking. Not necessarily what the group wants to hear.
- Learn to relax. Often overachievers are passionate about many things. Yet it’s important to learn not to always care so much. Try being indifferent to things that aren’t that important.
- You’ve got to give trust to get trust. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Sometimes people take advantage of you. That’s fine, don’t do business with them again.
- Shoot for the moon. To be successful, don’t follow the pack. If you want to win, don’t hedge.
And, here is some good final advice (from Joel Peterson):
“Appreciate the people you work with, take care of your investors, celebrate successes along the way, communicate lavishly—good news and bad news, tell the truth, don’t try to maximize everything, and stop to smell the roses. Life is pretty short and most of what really matters doesn’t happen at the office.”
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