100 Quotes On Business From The 100 Greatest Living Business Minds
To mark Forbes’ centennial, Forbes assembled 100 essays from the top entrepreneurs, visionaries and thinkers, each sharing an idea or lesson. They're meant to inspire and inform future entrepreneurs, the generation that will build and shape the next century. In their full form, the essays are swiftly told, and they’ve been distilled even further below: to a quote from each.
"You cannot do everything alone--especially when you get to a certain level. It is impossible." -- Hamdi Ulukaya, founder, Chobani Yogurt.
"We need to have a beginner's mind to think about what is happening." -- Marc Benioff, founder, Salesforce.
"Companies will succeed and fail based on their ability to translate data...into insights and actions and products and services." -- Michael Dell, founder, Dell Technologies.
"Every morning I wake up and ask, Where am I? I don't know where I am because I am jumping around the world, but I don't want to go to sleep. It's thrilling." -- Masayoshi Son, founder, Softbank.
"It's just foolishness to not recognize the creativity that you can unlock in the corporate world." -- Bono, lead singer, U2; cofounder, One, (Red), Elevation Partners, Rise Fund.
"I'm very clear that everything I do is authentic, practiced and viable--and the end result is generally beautiful." -- Martha Stewart, American tastemaker.
"Health is your own; money belongs to others; power is temporary; and reputation is eternal." -- Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, founder, Thai Beverage.
"Investing in people is how we grow." -- Howard Schultz, executive chairman, Starbucks
"You drill your fair share of dry holes, but you never lose your optimism." -- T. Boone Pickens, oil wildcatter, hedge fund manager.
"Finance can change the world and create millions of jobs by empowering people with ability." -- Michael Milken, financial alchemist, junk-bond prodigy (Drexel Burnham Lambert).
"When I was growing up in the Soviet Union, my father told me if I wanted to learn about business, I had to start looking beyond my horizon." -- Yuri Milner, founder, DST Global.
"We need to level the playing field so that everyone, everywhere, has a shot at the American dream." -- Steve Case, co-founder, AOL.
"We are absolutely a more profitable (and better) business because we have a mission beyond the sole pursuit of profits." -- Dan Gilbert, founder Quicken Loans.
"I prefer to match words with deeds or let the facts speak for me." -- Leonardo Del Vecchio, founder, Luxottica
"Maintain a culture of respect." -- Eric Schmidt, former CEO, Novell, Google.
"I think that the most important issue that will reshape our lives in the years ahead will be how man-made and artificial intelligence compete and work together." -- Ray Dalio, founder Bridgewater Associates.
"A leader works for those they lead." -- Martine Rothblatt, founder, Sirius, United Therapeutics.
"Sometimes the best way to make money is when most people say you are wrong and nuts." -- Carl Icahn, founder, Icahn Enterprises.
"Curiosity has kept me young as I have gotten older." -- Les Wexner, visionary of The Limited (Victoria's Secret, Pink, Etc.).
"If I give the customers my best and service them differently, whether music, clothing or vodka, I'll get a return on my hard work." -- Sean "Diddy" Combs, hip-hop mogul (Bad Boy); fashion mogul (Sean John); liquor mogul (Ciroc).
"Every business is a living document, an algorithm that needs to be improved." -- Billy Beane, Oakland A's executive vice president.
"No matter how small a project you work on, and no matter what it is, put your heart and soul and sense of responsibility into it." -- Frank Gehry, world-shaping architect.
"Early-stage entrepreneurs shouldn't forget about [due diligence]. It almost stopped everything for me." -- Sara Blakely, founder, Spanx.
"We are better employees when we stop trying to be two people and bring our whole selves to work." -- Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook.
"Most people fail in science because they talk themselves out of doing the experiment. Ideas are a dime a dozen. What makes the difference is the execution of the idea." -- Craig Venter, founder, Celera Genomics.
"When you start something today, you usually have to start it all over the world at the same time to be successful." -- Bernard Arnault, founder, LVMH.
"Every industry today has to fight complacency, prepare to see the disruption coming and then be flexible enough to adapt swiftly." -- Lakshmi Mittal, chairman, CEO, Arcelormittal.
"If I were starting out now, I would look at what the competition is like in various fields--and then consider some that aren't so popular." -- Julian Robertson, founder, Tiger Management.
"We're the first species capable of self-annihilation, and it's extremely likely, given enough time. The question: Can we get ahead of it?" -- Elon Musk, co-founder, Paypal, Tesla, SpaceX.
"No business school graduate would recommend gambling as a financial strategy, but sometimes it pays to be a little crazy early in your career." -- Fred Smith, founder, FedEx.
"If your mother calls you and tells you that she is proud of what you are doing, that's probably a good indication that you are on the road to happiness." -- David Rubenstein, co-CEO, The Carlyle Group.
"In maybe 20 or 30 years, we will use things like stem cells to change disease outcomes." -- Paul Allen, co-founder, Microsoft.
"Integrity means honesty and willingness to fulfill a promise, even at high cost." -- Morris Chang, founder, Taiwan Semiconductor.
"The four most important words in business are 'What do you think?'" -- Bill Marriott, Jr., chairman, Marriott International.
"If someone is out in the desert walking around, they're going to be thirsty. You just have to ask them what they want to drink." -- Arthur Blank, co-founder, Home Depot.
"I'm the one who decides, but I like having lots of other people with whom I can discuss ideas." -- Giorgio Armani, founder, Armani.
"Research how and why things are, and imagine how they might change," -- Philip Anschutz, entertainment mogul.
"I have always chosen to ignore the conventional wisdom in favor of the ideas that interested me." -- Sean Parker, co-founder, Napster; former president, Facebook.
"Sometimes, you have a fraction of a second to evaluate, when you first meet somebody, whether they might stab you or become your friend." -- Guy Laliberté, cofounder, Cirque du Soleil.
"Don't just satisfy your customers—delight them... Anybody who has happy customers is likely to have a pretty good future." -- Warren Buffett, CEO, Berkshire Hathaway.
"If you're great in this business you're right six times out of ten." -- Peter Lynch, former portfolio manager, Magellan Fund.
"Believe in big ideas." -- H. Ross Perot, Sr., data pioneer, original populist-businessman presidential candidate.
"And Si [Newhouse], who is a billionaire, said, "No, I'm not going to write a check for $1 million. Let's pay them $100,000 a month." And when I asked him why, he said, "I don't want them to think that money comes that easily."'I don't want them to think that money comes that easily.'" -- Larry Gagosian, the Picasso of art dealers.
"Part of learning is done through reading, and the other part, which is likely more important, is talking with bright minds from different fields." -- Neil Shen, China's preeminent venture capitalist.
"I'd said to my partner Stedman, 'What am I going to talk about for ten days and ten nights at Nelson Mandela's house?' And Stedman said, 'Why don't you try listening?'" -- Oprah Winfrey, founder, Oprah Winfrey Network.
"Among my friends, I always learn the best from them." -- Lee Shau Kee, Hong Kong's landlord, stock-picking savant.
"If you're present and awake, you become this great thinker, this great worker. You become a fine-tuned machine." -- Russell Simmons, hip-hop pioneer; serial entrepreneur; yoga guru.
"What allowed me to survive is that I was always honest and I truly believed in what I did." -- Diane von Furstenberg, fashion icon.
"You have to enjoy coming in to work each day and going to battle for what you believe in, and for the people who you believe in." -- Donald Trump, owner, The Trump Organization; 45th President of the United States.
"My biggest mistake was thinking I shouldn't show my mistakes -- I learned I should." -- Jack Dorsey, CEO, Twitter, Square.
"It was probably a $200 billion mistake. After that, we made a rule: No more meetings in the bathroom." -- Michael Eisner, former CEO, Disney.
"I learned to never kick someone when they're down. Everyone makes mistakes, and some are real whoppers. But that makes them whopping opportunities, too." -- Jack Welch, former CEO, GE.
"We ran our business differently and it worked--we paid our workers based on profitability, with bonuses based on aspirational targets." -- Patrice Motsepe, Africa's first black billionaire.
"Your goal should never be starting a company. Focus on the change you want to make." -- Mark Zuckerberg, cofounder, Facebook.
"I respect ambition, but not ruthless ambition." -- Meg Whitman, CEO, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
"For the economic, social and political benefit of all, the Web must be recognized as a public good." -- Tim Berners-Lee, inventor, World Wide Web.
"Keep your labor or your expense down and maximize the responsibility you extend to fewer people." -- Jerry Jones, owner, Dallas Cowboys.
"I realized...that this was the land of opportunity and I could control my own fate." -- Shahid Khan, owner Flex-N-Gate.
"It's difficult, when you've written [songs] for nothing, to pay $50 million to get them back." -- Paul McCartney, Beatle, the copyright owner.
"If you [and your partners] have the same values and are focused on the same goals...you can go a long way." -- Henry Kravis, co-founder, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
"Having clean, inexpensive, sufficient energy that's not controlled in some government's hands or some big business' hands helps solve a couple of the giant threats." -- Jeff Skoll, eBay billionaire.
"Don't take 'no' when your gut tells you 'yes.'" -- James Patterson, record-setting author.
"Prudence and agility, creativity and innovation will give you the edge to thrive in uncertain times." -- Li Ka-shing, chairman, CK Hutchison.
"I found beauty in the absolute truth of machines in the classroom, I found purpose in the messiness of human interactions." -- Robert Smith, founder, Vista Equity Partners.
"When the decision is finally made, I've found my reaction is always the same: I should have done this a long time ago!" -- Louis Gerstner, Jr., former chairman and CEO, IBM.
"Take an old concept...and just put a new spin on it, success will follow you like a shadow." -- Sheldon Adelson, casino mogul.
"When a door closes, if you look long enough and hard enough, if you're strong enough, you'll find a window that opens." -- Jack Bogle, founder, Vanguard.
"Here's how I stay relevant: I read. I listen. I try to surround myself with smart people of all ages and backgrounds." -- John Doerr, venture capital Midas.
"People assume they are most creative at a certain age. But if you look at truly great artists, they always get better." -- Jeff Koons, record-breaking artist.
"Age is just a number for me—I haven't thought about it in years. I go by the motto that I learn something new every single day." -- Bernard Marcus, co-founder, Home Depot.
"Be passionate in areas relevant to you, and be a voice that is respected and abreast of developments." -- Ratan Tata, India's industrialist.
"I explicitly don't build or guard my reputation. I believe in telling it like it is and not worrying about it." -- Vinod Khosla, venture capitalist; co-founder, Sun Microsystems.
"Don't worry about reputation but about character. You build character by practicing empathy, practicing moral courage, practicing determination." -- Jacqueline Novogratz, founder, Acumen Fund.
"You need to be curious and never stop studying. You have to challenge yourself to think every day to understand and react to what is happening." -- Miuccia Prada, co-CEO, Prada.
"At the end we leave with nothing. Entrepreneurs are only temporary managers of wealth. So do right by your customers, your employees, your backers. " -- Carlos Slim Helú, Mexico's one-man economy; one-time richest person in the world.
"Being in business by yourself, you're responsible, one way or the other, and I had a lot of success that way." -- David Geffen, founder, Asylum Records, Geffen Records; cofounder, Dreamworks.
"I stress the importance of having another life outside of business so that when it does come time to retire, the transition is easier." -- Sandy Weill, Wall Street conglomerator.
"It's so easy for someone with a great idea to share it with the world in an instant, the pace of innovation is accelerating—and that opens up more areas than ever for exploration." -- Bill Gates, global philanthropist; cofounder, Microsoft.
"We sometimes fall flat on our face. But people don't mind people who try things and fail." -- Richard Branson, thrillionaire; founder, Virgin Group.
"Nobody's job was to say, 'I think it's wonderful.' Instead, I insisted on everyone coming together to analyze potential problems that could lose investor money." -- Stephen Schwarzman, cofounder Blackstone.
"Organizations resist innovation--and those that do inevitably fail--because people are more comfortable with what they know than with what they don't." -- Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York; cofounder Bloomberg LP.
"You should find an area that interests you and just get on the highway, and it will lead you wherever you lead it." -- Barry Diller, founder, IAC.
"You need to have a culture instead of a payroll, so that people watch themselves. What does this? Not money, but enhanced self-esteem." -- Steve Wynn, king of The Strip; founder, Mirage Resorts.
"Making money is a happiness; making other people happy is a super-happiness." -- Muhammad Yunus, father of microfinance.
"Everything today is speed, and there is always somebody else working on something better." -- Ron Perelman, buyout specialist.
"My interests and my priorities are using my life experience and what I have been able to achieve to nurture the next generation." -- Terry Gou, founder, Foxconn.
"Storytelling remains basic: It's just a campfire, the human connection that says you're not alone." -- Shonda Rhimes, televisionary.
"Treat and pay your staff exactly the way you'd want to be treated if you were in their place." -- John Paul DeJoria, co-founder, John Paul Mitchell Systems, Patrón Tequila.
"Today customers can tell whether product and service is good because there's so much transparency." -- Jeff Bezos, founder, Amazon.
"If you do the right thing, the right thing will come to you." -- Berry Gordy, founder, Motown Records.
"In philanthropy we don't worry about getting fired. There's a lot of work to be done." -- Eli Broad, co-founder, KB Home.
"My outlook, energy, self-assurance and sense of social purpose were fashioned in the slightly mad meritocracy that is the newsroom." -- Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman News Corp..
"'The question is, how to be useful.'" -- Jim Collins, author, Good to Great and Built to Last.
"When hiring, if forced to choose between virtue and talent, choose virtue." -- Charles Koch, CEO, Koch Industries.
"We realized success had covered over mistakes, and we had begun to lose our compass." -- Charles Schwab, founder, Charles Schwab.
"In my daily life I try my best to practice what is known as Shin Zen Bi, which translates to Truth, Goodness, Beauty." -- Tadashi Yanai, founder Fast Retailing (Uniqlo).
"Growing up, my father hired a man named Jimmy Brown to work for our family, and he became one of my dearest friends. Jimmy taught me things my own father couldn't teach me, like how to sail." -- Ted Turner, founder, CNN.
"If we are complacent and not open to change, we will soon lose our place. The best way to stay ahead is to learn from the younger generation." -- Dhanin Chearavanont, senior chairman, CP Group.
"I like to imagine the world five years from now. Or imagine what I want the world to look like five years from now." -- Brian Chesky, cofounder Airbnb.
"There were many times in my life when I would have liked to follow the herd. Instead, I have always followed my gut—and sometimes it's been really lonely." -- Sam Zell, vulture legend; REIT collector.
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