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Surprising Business Advice Given by Top Leaders in 2017

Leaders from high performing companies often share surprising business advice coming from their personal experiences. I’m certainly always interested and keen to read about what Jeff Bezos, Sara Blakely, Mark Cuban and the likes have to tell us. These quotes taken from some of their 2017 interviews, speeches and internal communications are great food for thought. Especially at this time of year when it’s time to do a retrospective on 2017 – see what went well and where we need to bring change.

Surprising Business Advice From Top Leaders

1. Sara Blakely, Spanx CEO:
Telling about training herself to be gutsy. “I’ll sing in an elevator for no reason, with other people in there, and my heart will be pounding and everyone is like uncomfortable and it is awkward and embarrassing… Or I will ask a question that I know really sounds quite stupid, but I am curious about it and put myself out there. That’s because being willing to do whatever you need to, no matter how awkward, is key to business success.”

2. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO:
From an email sent to his employees. “Anyone at Tesla can and should email/talk to anyone else accordant to what they think is the fastest way to solve a problem for the benefit of the whole company. You can talk to your manager’s manager without his permission, you can talk to another VP in another dept, you can talk to me, you can talk to anyone else without anyone else’s permission.”

3. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO:
“I think the most important thing we’ve learned as we’ve grown is that we have to prioritize. We talk about it as ruthless prioritization. And by that what we mean is only do the very best of the ideas. Lots of times you have very good ideas. But they’re not as good as the most important thing you could be doing. And you have to make the hard choices.”

4. Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO:
Weiner tells about his dad’s daily ritual with him growing up. “Every night before bed he would say, ‘You can do anything you set your mind to’ and he said it so often it eventually became like a bromide, like ‘finish your vegetables’. I thought all parents told their kids that and I didn’t fully appreciate what my dad was doing was really special. The biggest thing behind it is the fact that he meant it.”

5. Mary Barra, General Motors CEO:
“Biggest doesn’t mean best. We don’t win until our customers say we win. They need to decide to buy our products.”

6. Neil Rossy, Dollarama CEO:
“We had 17-plus years to master $1, and it’s going to take us a bunch of years to master $3.50 and $4.”

7. Mark Cuban, Philanthropist, Entrepreneur and Owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks:
“Always remember what I tell myself: ‘Every no gets me closer to a yes.’ You have to move on and start communicating with someone you know [who] might buy your product, rather than wasting more time with someone you already know won’t buy your product. … [time is] the most valuable asset you have, don’t waste it refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

8. Oprah Winfrey, Television producer, Talk show host, Actress:
“I started to make my decisions on what I intended… What do I really intend to happen from the outcome of this decision or this choice? … And changing the paradigm from just doing a television show, from just being on TV, to actually intending to be of service to the viewers changed the trajectory of the show. The reason we were number one for 25 solid years is because we intended to be.”

9. Tory Burch, Billion-dollar company founder:
“Culture is everything to me and our company … You have to constantly work on culture. And that is something we take very seriously, so work/life balance is part of that … You put your children and family first and then everything falls into place. That’s how I look at it.”

10. Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO
Talking about a critical skill he learned from his grandfather. “I spent all my summers on his ranch from age four to 16 and he was incredibly self-reliant… As a kid, I got to see him solve all these problems and be a real problem solver… He would take on major projects that he didn’t know how to do and then figure out how to do them… [Talking about a broken bulldozer] The transmission was stripped, the hydraulics didn’t work and so we spent basically the whole summer repairing it… [As an entrepreneur and someone pursuing a passion to] move things forward, [you run into problems, failures and things that don’t work.]… Each one of those times that you have a setback and you back up and try again, you’re using resourcefulness. You’re using self-reliance. You’re trying to invent your way out of a box. That resourcefulness of trying new things, figuring things out… it pays off in everything.”

May these quotes serve as a source of inspiration as we are all about to tackle resolutions for the new year.

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