Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Edward Lampert: The Best Advice I've Ever Got

Eddie Lampert (Bio)
Chairman and CEO, ESL Investments; Chairman, Sears Holdings

Almost every weekend when I was 7, 8, 9, 10 years old, my father and I would toss a football in the yard or play basketball in the driveway. When we played football, he'd say, "Go out ten steps. Turn to your right." The ball would reach me just before I turned, and it would hit me right in the chest. Why would my dad do this? He told me, "If I waited for you to turn, you and the defensive player would have an equal chance to get the ball. Your opportunity is gone."

Don't Wait for an Opportunity, Think Ahead:
This idea of anticipation is key to investing and to business generally. You can't wait for an opportunity to become obvious. You have to think, "Here's what other people and companies have done under certain circumstances. Now, under these new circumstances, how is this management likely to behave?" The plays my father designed for me helped me learn to think ahead. Lots of days I asked him, "Why can't we just invite kids over and play a game?" In order to do something well, he explained, you have to keep practicing and preparing.

Source: The Best Advice I Ever Got

Michael Bloomberg: The Best Advice I've Ever Got

There is a great segment on The Best Advice I Ever Got from CNN Money. There are 25 stories from successful people including Michael Bloomberg, Larry Page, Tina Fey, Eddie Lampert, and Bob Iger, among many others. Here is an excerpt:

Michael Bloomberg,
Mayor of New York City, founder of Bloomberg LP

Stop talking when the customer says yes: I can't remember who told me this, but I certainly didn't grow up knowing it, so I must have gotten this advice at Salomon Brothers in the 1970s. The advice was, first, always ask for the order, and second, when the customer says yes, stop talking. I have watched more people make great presentations, whether they're trying to sell to their family or in business or in government, and never get to the point of what they're trying to get out of it. And too many times when the customer says yes, the person who got that answer just doesn't stop talking. Worst advice? The worst advice that people can take is to react before they've had a chance to think. I think we all say things and wish we hadn't said them. Ready, shoot, aim is not the smartest policy.

Source: The Best Advice I Ever Got

Bill Davidson, American Entrepreneur

William Morse Davidson, J.D. (born December 5, 1923 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American entrepreneur and professional sports owner and a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

He is the chairman of Guardian Industries Corp., one of the world's largest manufacturers of architectural and automotive glass. He is also the chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment, principal owner of the Detroit Pistons of the NBA, the Detroit Shock of the WNBA, and the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the NHL. His Pistons won the 1989, 1990, and 2004 NBA Finals; his Shock won the 2003 & 2006 WNBA Finals; his Lightning won the 2004 Stanley Cup, making him the only owner in professional sports history whose teams have won an NBA Championship and a Stanley Cup in the same year. His combined business ventures have led him to an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion.

William Davidson's Profile
Hire Competent Managers and Place the Responsibility on Them:
The Pistons' majority owner likes success and has known it in his business interests. That's why now, the success of the Detroit Pistons comes as no surprise to those who are aware of Davidson's ability to manage people. His secret is simple: Hire competent managers and place the responsibility on them.

Pistons owner Bill Davidson gets Hall call
Allow Good Managers to Do Their Jobs Without Interfering:
However, Dumars was quick to praise Davidson for his leadership and vision.
"He allows me to go out and do my job," Dumars said at the time. "Without him, this wouldn't be possible."

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Motivation Poster

You see these types of posters everywhere. It's true... motivation takes more than a poster.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Alan Greenspan, American Economist

Alan Greenspan (born March 6, 1926 in New York City) is an American economist and from 1987 to 2006 chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve of the United States. He currently works as a private advisor, making speeches and providing consulting for firms through his company, Greenspan Associates LLC.

First appointed Fed chairman by President Ronald Reagan in August 1987, he was reappointed at successive four-year intervals until retiring after a record-setting tenure on January 31, 2006, at which time he relinquished the chairmanship to Ben Bernanke. Greenspan was lauded for his handling of the Black Monday stock market crash that occurred very shortly after he first became chairman, as well as for his stewardship of the Internet-driven, "dot-com" economic boom of the 1990s. This expansion culminated in a stock market bubble burst in March 2000 followed by a recession beginning in late 2000 and continuing through 2002.

From 2001 until his retirement from the Fed, he was increasingly criticized for some statements seen as overstepping the Fed's traditional purview of monetary policy, and viewed by others as overly supportive of the policies of President George W. Bush, as well as for policies seen by Business Week Magazine and others as leading to a housing bubble. During his tenure Greenspan was considered to be the leading authority on American domestic economic and monetary policy, and his active influence continues to this day.
Success Quotes

I have found no greater satisfaction than achieving success through honest dealing and strict adherence to the view that, for you to gain, those you deal with should gain as well.

  • Use honesty and help others to get better and in the end you all will be happier. I wonder how some people sleep at night when they consciously take advantage of others through dishonesty and other practices.
To succeed, you will soon learn, as I did, the importance of a solid foundation in the basics of education--literacy, both verbal and numerical, and communication skills.
  • Build from the ground up. You have to start somewhere and you mind as well start now. Study hard and better your communication skills.
The true measure of a career is to be able to be content, even proud, that you succeeded through your own endeavors without leaving a trail of casualties in your wake.
  • Be proud of what you have accomplished. Look back at what you have done but don't forget to also look into the future. Reflect on all of the challenges you have overcome and remember that you made it without hurting others.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Rose Blumkin, Nebraska Furniture Mart

A great, influential story of Rose Blumkin of Nebraska Furniture Mart who was an immigrant from Russia without a formal education. Here is her story with success traits.

Warren Buffett makes no secret of his belief that a good business needs a good manager and, when he buys businesses, prefers to leave management in place, if they are good and know what they are doing.

There can be no better example of this strategy than the Nebraska Furniture Mart founded by the incredible Rose Blumkin.

Rose Blumkin was born in Minsk, Russia in 1893, one of eight children of an impoverished Rabbi, and worked from the age of six in her mother’s small general store. Rose did not go to school but learned arithmetic from a family friend.

When Rose was old enough for outside employment, she got a job in a local haberdashery and was soon running the show. Soon after, she married, and with her husband migrated to America, her husband going ahead before her, and Rose making her way alone via the Trans Siberian Railway, apparently without a passport. The Blumkins made their way to Nebraska where Rose, to augment the family income, sold second hand furniture from her home.

Things must have gone well enough for Rose because in 1937, she borrowed $500 and opened the Nebraska Furniture Mart in a basement shop in Omaha, under the motto that she was to make famous:

Be sincere:
‘Sell cheap and tell the truth’.

Use other options if something doesn't work:
Rose Blumkin had problems in getting the big furniture wholesalers to stock her, but she outsmarted them by buying excess stock from other out of state retailers at reduced prices and selling them to her Omaha customers at low profit margins. This set the scene for the business practice that was to make her famous; buy in bulk, run a tight ship and pass on any cost savings to the customers. She generally worked on no higher than a 10 per cent mark up.

The Furniture Mart grew bigger and bigger, with Mrs B, as Buffett used to call her, working long hours every day and getting her family to do the same. Rose Blumkin’s furniture shop became a Nebraska legend. The original 3000 square feet shop now occupies 75 acres.

Warren Buffett, as a local resident, knew about the store and the wonderful business that Mrs B had established and made several attempts to buy her out, but could not come up with a price that was acceptable.

Finally, according to Roger Lowenstein in Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist, Buffett walked into the store one day, approached Rose Blumkin, and asked her if she wanted to sell and, if so, to name her price. Mrs B said she was a seller at 60 million dollars and Buffett accepted immediately. He insisted apparently, on Rose and her sons, by then helping her to run the business, retaining a minority shareholding and keeping on managing.

Buffett knew from previous enquiries that the business was grossing about 15 million dollars a year in profits, but seemed to have done little additional checking, settling the deal within a few days, without audits or due diligence. He knew a good deal when he saw it, and, as he was later to say, he trusted her integrity.

After the deal was done, Rose Blumkin is alleged to have told Warren that they were now going to ‘put our competitors through a meat grinder’. That would not have been news to the various businesses that had tried to compete with Mrs B over the years and who had already been minced.

In his 1984 Letter to Shareholders, Warren Buffett said this, reflecting his own investment principles:

Be enthusiastic, and realize and remain in your area of special competence:
‘I have been asked by a number of people what secrets the Blumkins bring to their business. These are not very esoteric. All members of the family:

1. Apply themselves with an enthusiasm that would make Ben Franklin and Horatio Alger look like dropouts;

2. Define with extraordinary realism their area of special competence and act decisively on all matters within it;

3. Ignore even the most enticing propositions falling outside of that area of special competence; and

4. Unfailingly behave in a high grade manner with everyone they deal with. (Mrs B boils it down to "sell cheap and tell the truth".’ (paragraphing modified).

Never give up:
Mrs B kept at it but apparently became a bit irascible as she grew older. In 1959, then over 90 years old, she had a falling out with family members who were then running the store and left in high dudgeon. So what did she do? She opened up a competing store, specializing in carpets, not far from the Nebraska Furniture Mart, calling it ‘Mrs B’s Warehouse’. She did pretty well, apparently causing a dent in the Furniture Mart’s carpet sales.

Several years later, she reconciled with family members, sold the carpet business to Berkshire Hathaway for $5,000,000 and went back to work at the Furniture Mart, turning up, of course, seven days a week.

Rose Blumkin died in 1998, aged 104. A business legend.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Quotes from Mario Andretti

"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's the determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek." Mario Andretti

Mario Gabriele Andretti (born February 28, 1940 in Montona d'Istria, Italy, now Motovun, Croatia) is an Italian American racecar driver, and one of the most successful Americans in the history of auto racing.

He has competed and won in many different types of auto racing, including stock cars, midget cars, sprint cars, IndyCars, drag racing cars, sports cars, and Formula One cars. During his career, Andretti won four IndyCar titles, the 1978 Formula One World Championship, and IROC VI (the 1978 - 1979 IROC). To date, he remains the only driver ever to win the Indianapolis 500 (1969), the Daytona 500 (1967), and the Formula One World Championship, and, along with Juan Pablo Montoya, the only driver to have won a race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Formula One, and an Indianapolis 500. No American has won a Formula One race since Andretti at the 1978 Dutch Grand Prix. Andretti had 109 career wins on major circuits.

Andretti had a long career in racing. He was the only person to be named United States Driver of the Year in three decades (1967, 1978, and 1984). He was also one of only three drivers to win races on road courses, paved ovals, and dirt tracks in one season, a feat that he accomplished four times. At his final IndyCar win in April 1993, Andretti became the first driver to win IndyCar races in four decades and the first to win races in five decades.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Book: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

I highly recommend The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.

The book is summarized by the seven habits listed here:
1. Be Proactive. Here, Covey emphasizes the original sense of the term "proactive" as coined by Victor Frankl. You can either be proactive or reactive when it comes to how you respond to certain things. When you are reactive, you blame other people and circumstances for obstacles or problems. Being proactive means taking responsibility for every aspect of your life. Initiative and taking action will then follow. Covey also shows how man is different from other animals in that he has self-consciousness. He has the ability to detach himself and observe his own self; think about his thoughts. He goes on to say how this attribute enables him: It gives him the power not to be affected by his circumstances. Covey talks about stimulus and response. Between stimulus and response, we have the power of free will to choose our response.

2. Begin with the End In Mind. This chapter is about setting long-term goals based on "true north" principles. Covey recommends formulating a "personal vision statement" to document one's perception of one's own vision in life. He sees visualization as an important tool to develop this. He also deals with organizational vision statements, which he claims to be more effective if developed and supported by all members of an organization rather than prescribed.

3. Put First Things First. Here, Covey describes a framework for prioritizing work that is aimed at short-term goals, at the expense of tasks that appear not to be urgent, but are in fact very important. Delegation is presented as an important part of time management. Successful delegation, according to Covey, focuses on results and benchmarks that are to be agreed upon in advance, rather than prescribed as detailed work plans.

4. Think Win/Win describes an attitude whereby mutually beneficial solutions are sought that satisfy the needs of oneself, or, in the case of a conflict, both parties involved.

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Covey warns that giving out advice before having empathetically understood a person and their situation will likely result in rejection of that advice. Thoroughly reading out your own autobiography will decrease the chance of establishing a working communication.

6. Synergize describes a way of working in teams. Apply effective problem solving. Apply collaborative decision making. Value differences. Build on divergent strengths. Leverage creative collaboration. Embrace and leverage innovation. It is put forth that when synergy is pursued as a habit, the result of the teamwork will exceed the sum of what each of the members could have achieved on their own. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

7. Sharpen the saw focuses on balanced self-satisfaction: Regain what Covey calls "production capability" by engaging in carefully selected recreational activities.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville

One of the most influential articles I have read on investing by, the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett is The Superinvestors of Graham-and-Doddsville.

An interest in investing and knowledge on value investing are a plus here, but this article is excellent and describes value investing from teachers, Benjamin Graham and David Dodd, and the successes their students have had since.

Students of Graham and Dodd, mentioned in the article, are:
Walter J. Schloss
Tom Knapp (Tweedy Browne)
Ed Anderson (Tweedy Browne)
Bill Ruane (Sequoia Fund Inc.)
Charlie Munger (Berkshire Hathaway)
Stan Perlmeter (Perlmeter Investments)


Existentialism is a philosophical movement that posits that individuals create the meaning and essence of their lives, as opposed to deities or authorities creating it for them.

Existentialism tends to focus on the question of human existence — the feeling that there is no purpose, indeed nothing, at the core of existence. Finding a way to counter this nothingness, by embracing existence, is the fundamental theme of existentialism, and the root of the philosophy's name. Given that someone who believes in reality might be called a "realist", and someone who believes in a deity might be called a "theist", therefore someone who believes fundamentally only in existence, and seeks to find meaning in his or her life solely by embracing existence, is an existentialist.


Existentialism is an extreme theory but can be applied to success. Someone who believes they were put here for a reason and continually seeks meaning in their life could be an existentialist. These existentialists that continually look for their meaning may become successful when they find it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Inspirational Video: Into the Wild

If you've seen Into the Wild, here's an inspiring video based on a true-story of someone that took a big risk and chose not to mold to society.

Can Money Bring Happiness?

Taken from a Free Money Finance post: Can Money Buy Happiness?
The following is an excerpt from the book Does Your Bag Have Holes.

Some say that money is not important at all. Money is not most important in our lives, but it is important. Money enables the fulfillment of needs, the needs of others, and to fulfill life’s missions. We all have the following six needs of life and money plays a key role in fulfilling each of these needs.

1. Survival -- Food, water, clothes, and shelter are necessary to stay alive. Each of these needs cost money.

2. Security -- Our need for security can be fulfilled with money. A person who is without debt and has money set a side for emergencies will feel much more security than the person who has debt, can barely pay the bills, and has no extra funds for possible expenditures that might arise, such as car repairs or medical expenses.

3. Family and Friends -- Money can assist us in fulfilling our need for family and friends by enabling us to spend more time with them instead of having to work all the time. Money certainly matters when your children have sporting events or music recitals you have to miss because you can’t take off work due to financial obligations.

4. Personal Growth -- My son began preschool at the age of 4 and his learning and growth has been amazing to watch. It requires money each month for me to pay for his tuition. As I have taken on the challenge of writing this book, I have attended seminars and purchased books about writing and publishing to help me learn and grow. If I did not have money, these options would not have been available.

5. Charity and Service -- “Most of us would like to make a positive impact on the lives of others and on our world. If we do not feel that this is in some way happening, we tend to experience a sense of emptiness, low self-worth, futility, and sometimes even depression.” (Herb Miller, Money Is Everything, (Nashville: Discipleship Resources, 1994) p. 19) We each have been given special gifts and talents from God, which only we possess. There are specific ways in which each of us are to contribute to society. To help people discover their mission I have them answer this question, “If you had unlimited time and money, what would you do?” Before you read on, answer this question for yourself.

I believe everyone is born with a God-given mission they are to perform. Many people do not fulfill their mission because they never have the time or money to do so. These people are too busy making a living to make a difference. They work their entire lives just to meet their survival needs and then die without fulfilling their missions. Talents are not developed and utilized to improve the world because they were too busy focusing on surviving. God did not send us to earth to be born, pay the bills, and die. God sent us here for a purpose. Don’t die with your mission still in you. Leave a legacy.

6. Recreation -- Life is best enjoyed when we take time for recreation. Thomas Jefferson taught, “Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as . . . learning.” John Wanamaker wrote, “People who cannot find time for recreation are obliged sooner or later to find time for illness.” Recreation is a source of renewal and rejuvenation that will increase our efficiency and productivity on other tasks. One of my favorite recreational activities is golf—golf clubs and green fees come with an expense. Family vacations are a great form of recreation, which many are unable to enjoy because they don’t have the money.
So can money bring you happiness?
It's not that money is buying you happiness. Happiness is an emotion, and emotions cannot be bought. Things that can influence or change your emotions can be bought through money though. Without some the mentioned above; Survival, Security, Family and Friends, Personal Growth, Charity and Service, Recreation, you may be unhappy. An extreme example could be if you had no money and were unable to buy goods that fulfilled these needs. Everyone is different, but having money may give you less to worry about, such as being able to provide food and shelter for your family.

Richard Branson - English Entrepreneur, Virgin Brand

"Above all, you want to create something you are proud of.... That has always been my philosophy of business. I can honestly say that I have never gone into any business purely to make money. If that is the sole motive, then I believe you are better off doing nothing." - Richard Branson
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English entrepreneur, best known for his Virgin brand of over 360 companies. Branson's first successful business venture was at age 15, when he published a magazine called Student. He then set up a record mail-order business in 1970. In 1972, he opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known as Virgin Megastores and rebranded as zavvi in late 2007. With his flamboyant and competitive style, Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s - as he set up Virgin Atlantic Airways and expanded the Virgin Records music label. Richard Branson is the 236th richest person according to Forbes' 2008 list of billionaires as he has an estimated net worth of approximately $7.9 billion USD.


Create Something Ground-Breaking. Assemble Good Teams:
"To be successful, you have to be out there, you have to hit the ground running, and if you have a good team around you and more than a fair share of luck, you might make something happen. But you certainly can't guarantee it just by following someone else's formula."

Have Integrity:
"All you have in life is your reputation: you may be very rich, but if you lose your good name, then you'll never be happy. The thought will always lurk at the back of your mind that people don't trust you. I had never really focused on what a good name meant before, but that night in prison made me understand."

Richard Branson's 10 Secrets to Success:
1. Challenge the big ones.
2. Keep it casual.
3. Haggle: everything is negotiable.
4. Have fun working.
5. Do the right things for the brand.
6. Smile for the cameras!
7. Don't lead "sheep" - herd "cats".
8. Move like a bullet.
9. Size does matter.
10. Be a common, regular person

Richard Branson Success Story
Sir Richard's first successful business was at age 16, when he dropped out of secondary school and moved to London to set up a magazine called Student. His next business, a record mail-order company, led to his big break: a chain of record stores called Virgin Megastores, now with over 100 stores worldwide.

Branson's Virgin brand grew rapidly during the 1980s when he set up Virgin Atlantic Airways. Other brands that have followed since include Virgin Cola, Virgin Vodka, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Finance, Virgin Brides, Virgin Cinema and over a hundred others.

Don't Let Failures Get You Down:
Not all of Sir Richard’s ventures have been a success: Virgin Trains damaged the company’s reputation, as they inherited many of the problems left over from British Rail. He also had to sell Virgin Records in 1992 to keep his airline alive: a move he regretted, resulting in the launch of V2 Records a few years later.

Other interesting facts about Sir Richard:

- Virgin Galactic plans to make flights to outer space available to the public with tickets priced at US$200,000.
- His company is called Virgin, because Sir Richard and the other co-founders were all “virgins to business”
- He owns Necker Island, a 74-acre island in the British Virgin Islands.
- He has been involved in a number of world record-breaking attempts for oceans crossings by both boat and hot air balloon.
- He had a reality TV show called The Rebel Billionaire
- The Simpson's have based a character on Sir Richard
- He was knighted in 1999 for "services to entrepreneurship"
- Sir Richard appears at No. 85 on the 2002 BBC list of "100 Greatest Britons"
- Sir Richard was ranked in 2007's Time Magazine Top 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sergey Brin and Larry Page - Founders of Google

Google was co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were students at Stanford University and the company was first incorporated as a privately held company on September 7, 1998. Google's initial public offering took place on August 19, 2004, raising US$1.67 billion, making it worth US$23 billion. Google has continued its growth through a series of new product developments, acquisitions, and partnerships. Environmentalism, philanthropy, and positive employee relations have been important tenets during Google's growth, the latter resulting in being identified multiple times as Fortune Magazine's #1 Best Place to Work. The company's unofficial slogan is "Don't be evil", however Google is not without controversy related to its business practices; there are concerns regarding the privacy of personal information, copyright, censorship, and discontinuation of services.

Be Innovative:
Google began in January 1996, as a research project by Larry Page, who was soon joined by Sergey Brin, two Ph.D. students at Stanford University, California. They hypothesized that a search engine that analyzed the relationships between websites would produce better ranking of results than existing techniques, which ranked results according to the number of times the search term appeared on a page. Their search engine was originally nicknamed "BackRub" because the system checked backlinks to estimate a site's importance. A small search engine called Rankdex was already exploring a similar strategy.

Convinced that the pages with the most links to them from other highly relevant web pages must be the most relevant pages associated with the search, Page and Brin tested their thesis as part of their studies, and laid the foundation for their search engine. Originally, the search engine used the Stanford University website with the domain The domain was registered on September 15, 1997, and the company was incorporated as Google Inc. on September 7, 1998 at a friend's garage in Menlo Park, California. The total initial investment raised for the new company eventually amounted to almost US$1.1 million, including a US$100,000 check by Andy Bechtolsheim, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems.

In March 1999, the company moved into offices in Palo Alto, home to several other noted Silicon Valley technology startups. After quickly outgrowing two other sites, the company leased a complex of buildings in Mountain View at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway from Silicon Graphics (SGI) in 2003. The company has remained at this location ever since, and the complex has since come to be known as the Googleplex (a play on the word googolplex, a 1 followed by a googol zeros). In 2006, Google bought the property from SGI for US$319 million.

The Google search engine attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design and usability. In 2000, Google began selling advertisements associated with search keywords. The ads were text-based to maintain an uncluttered page design and to maximize page loading speed. Keywords were sold based on a combination of price bid and clickthroughs, with bidding starting at US$.05 per click. This model of selling keyword advertising was pioneered by (later renamed Overture Services, before being acquired by Yahoo! and rebranded as Yahoo! Search Marketing). While many of its dot-com rivals failed in the new Internet marketplace, Google quietly rose in stature while generating revenue.


How Google Became Great
Don't Be Too Complacent:
[Brin sees the success of Google in broad terms. “To me, this is about preserving history and making it available to everyone,” he says. Meanwhile, Page refuses to stop and reflect, claiming that the work is never done. “In a couple of years, I may be blown away by it, but now I’m just involved and worry about it,” he says. “I don’t want to be too complacent.”]

Complacent: pleased, esp. with oneself or one's merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied


Monday, April 14, 2008

Quotes from Steven Covey

“Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.” - Steven Covey

Truly Believe in Something:

Think about starting something on your own versus following someone else's idea. You are more inclined to be motivated about something you truly believe in, rather than someone telling you how great it's going to be. Until you really believe in your idea or someone else's idea, you will have a difficult time finding motivation in it.

Failures of Jeffery Immelt - CEO of General Electric

In 1992, I was running all the commercial operations for the plastics business at GE. We had a product called Nuvel, which was a sheet product that would go over wood to try to create the poor man's Corian countertops. Turns out the thing just didn't work. Any time you dropped a coin on it, it would leave a mark that you couldn't get out unless you buffed it with sandpaper. It was a classic case of just not asking the right questions up front.

Your Mistake Probably Isn't that Big:
This one was my mistake. I let the need for speed overwhelm doing enough upfront market research and testing. It was a $20 million mistake. We caught it after about three months. Customers would complain. At first, you go through this denial phase: "You don't understand" the product, and stuff like that.

Listen to Others, Do Your Due Dilligence First:
It made me learn about listening better. I'm more disciplined on the upfront stuff now than I was then. I wanted to do something big and exciting, and I wanted to do it now rather than wait a year. I 'fessed up: stepped up, made up for the financial hit we had to take on it by exceeding sales targets on other products, and made good to the customers. I think that I got better at understanding the need for research and more thought up front, so you don't have to redo things.

Learn From Your Mistakes:
You're never allowed in GE to make the same mistake twice. You're allowed to make the mistake once. If you try something and it fails, but you went about it the right way and you learned from it, that's not a bad thing.

Fabulous Failures of Successful People - BusinessWeek

Lost Generation Video

No matter how hard you work, don't forget about your family and friends.

Friday, April 11, 2008

John D. Rockefeller - American Industrialist and Philanthropist

John Davison Rockefeller, Sr. (July 8, 1839 –May 23, 1937) was an American industrialist and philanthropist. Rockefeller revolutionized the petroleum industry and defined the structure of modern philanthropy. In 1870, Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company and ran it until he retired in the late 1890s. Standard Oil began as an Ohio partnership formed by John D. Rockefeller, his brother William Rockefeller, Henry Flagler, chemist Samuel Andrews, and a silent partner Stephen V. Harkness. Rockefeller kept his stock and as gasoline grew in importance, his wealth soared and he became the world's richest man and first U.S. dollar billionaire, and is often regarded as the richest person in history. Standard Oil was convicted in Federal Court of monopolistic practices and broken up in 1911. Rockefeller spent the last 40 years of his life in retirement. His fortune was mainly used to create the modern systematic approach of targeted philanthropy with foundations that had a major effect on medicine, education, and scientific research. His foundations pioneered the development of medical research, and were instrumental in the eradication of hookworm and yellow fever. He is also the founder of both University of Chicago and Rockefeller University . He was a devoted Northern Baptist and supported many church-based institutions throughout his life. Rockefeller adhered to total abstinence from alcohol and tobacco throughout his life.

He married Laura Celestia ("Cettie") Spelman in 1864 and outlived her. The Rockefellers had four daughters and one son; John D. Rockefeller, Jr. "Junior" was largely entrusted with the supervision of the foundations.


Here are the Success Traits:

Organize, Create Systems and Order, and Hire the Right People:
[From the start Rockefeller showed a genius for organization and method. The firm prospered during the Civil War (1861–65), when Confederate (Southern) forces clashed with those of the Union (North). With the Pennsylvania oil strike (1859) and the building of a railroad to Cleveland, they branched out into oil refining (purifying) with Samuel Andrews, who had technical knowledge of the field. Within two years Rockefeller became senior partner; Clark was bought out, and the firm Rockefeller and Andrews became Cleveland's largest refinery.]

Work Hard with Focus at Something You Are Passionate About:
[Rockefeller's personal life was fairly simple. He was a man of few passions who lived for his work, and his great talent was his organizing genius and drive for order, pursued with great single-mindedness and concentration. His life was absorbed by business and family (wife Laura and four children), and later by organized giving. He created order, efficiency, and planning with extraordinary success and sweeping vision.]

Put Your Soul Into It
Be Energetic, Ambitious, and Generous:
[ Self-made billionaire, John Davison Rockefeller (1839-1937) approached life with energy and ambition. Born in Richford, New York, he was raised to work hard, save, and be generous.

Called the world's greatest philanthropist, in his lifetime he gave away over $530,000,000.

"I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty," said the successful entrepreneurs.

Like his contemporary Andrew Carnegie, Rockefeller started with little. In 1859, with $1,000 saved and another $1,000 borrowed from his father, Rockefeller formed a merchant partnership with neighbor Maurice Clark.]

Learn from Your Mistakes:
In 1863, the duo added partner, Samuel Andrews and turned to oil production. "I always tried to turn every disaster into an opportunity," Rockefeller explained.

Two years later, Rockefeller bought the refinery business outright for $72,500 and expanded. He formed Standard Oil in 1870, which at its peak controlled 90% of the U.S. oil industry and according to Rockefeller, "revolutionized the way of doing business all over the world."]

Take the Path Less Traveled:
["If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success," said the successful capitalist icon.]

Warren Buffet - American Investor and Philanthropist

Warren Edward Buffett (born August 30, 1930, in Omaha, Nebraska) is an American investor, businessman and philanthropist. He is regarded as one of the world's greatest stock market investors, and is the largest shareholder and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. With an estimated net worth of around US$62 billion, he was ranked by Forbes as the richest person in the world as of March 5, 2008.

Often called the "Oracle of Omaha," Buffett is noted for his adherence to the value investing philosophy and for his personal frugality despite his immense wealth. His 2006 annual salary was about $100,000, which is on the low side of senior executive remuneration in other comparable companies. He lives in the same house in the central Dundee neighborhood of Omaha that he bought in 1958 for $31,500, today valued at around $700,000.

Buffett is also a noted philanthropist. In 2006, he announced a plan to give away his fortune to charity, with 83% of it going to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2007, Buffett was listed among Time's 100 Most Influential People in The World. He also serves as a member of the board of trustees at Grinnell College.

Source: Wikipedia

Here are the Success Traits:

Warren Buffett Biography
Even Harvard Makes Mistakes:
[In 1947, a seventeen year old Warren Buffett graduated from High School. It was never his intention to go to college; he had already made $5,000 delivering newspapers (this is equal to $42,610.81 in 2000). His father had other plans, and urged his son to attend the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania. Buffett stayed two years, complaining that he knew more than his professors. When Howard was defeated in the 1948 Congressional race, Warren returned home to Omaha and transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Working full-time, he managed to graduate in only three years.

Warren Buffett approached graduate studies with the same resistance he displayed a few years earlier. He was finally persuaded to apply to Harvard Business School, which, in the worst admission decision in history, rejected him as "too young". Slighted, Warren applied to Columbia where famed investors Ben Graham and David Dodd taught - an experience that would forever change his life.]

[Ben Graham became an idyllic figure to the twenty-one year old Warren Buffett. Reading an old edition of Who's Who, Warren discovered his mentor was the Chairman of a small, unknown insurance company named GEICO. He hopped a train to Washington D.C. one Saturday morning to find the headquarters. When he got there, the doors were locked. Not to be stopped, Buffett relentlessly pounded on the door until a janitor came to open it for him. He asked if there was anyone in the building. As luck (or fate) would have it, there was. It turns out that there was a man still working on the sixth floor. Warren was escorted up to meet him and immediately began asking him questions about the company and its business practices; a conversation that stretched on for four hours. The man was none other than Lorimer Davidson, the Financial Vice President. The experience would be something that stayed with Buffett for the rest of his life. He eventually acquired the entire GEICO company through his corporation, Berkshire Hathaway.]

Even the Best Fail Sometimes:
[During these initial years, Warren's investments were predominately limited to a Texaco station and some real estate, but neither were successful. It was also during this time he began teaching night classes at the University of Omaha (something that wouldn't have been possible several months before. In an effort to conquer his intense fear of public speaking, Warren took a course by Dale Carnegie). Thankfully, things changed. Ben Graham called one day, inviting the young stockbroker to come to work for him. Warren was finally given the opportunity he had long awaited.]

More Hard Times:
[It was shortly thereafter one of the most profound and upsetting events in Buffett's life took place. At forty-five, Susan Buffett left her husband - in form. Although she remained married to Warren, the humanitarian / singer secured an apartment in San Francisco and, insisting she wanted to live on her own, moved there. Warren was absolutely devastated; throughout his life, Susie had been "the sunshine and rain in my [his] garden". The two remained close, speaking every day, taking their annual two-week New York trip, and meeting the kids at their California Beach house for Christmas get-togethers. The transition was hard for the businessman, but he eventually grew somewhat accustomed to the new arrangement. Susie called several women in the Omaha area and insisted they go to dinner and a movie with her husband; eventually, she set Warren up with Astrid Menks, a waitress.]

A Chronological History of the Oracle of Omaha: 1930-1956
[1943: Warren declares to a friend of the family that he will be a millionaire by the time he turns thirty, or "[I'll] jump off the tallest building in Omaha."]

Strengthen Your Weaknesses:
[1951: Buffett takes a Dale Carnegie public speaking course. Using what he learnt, he began to teach a night class at the University of Nebraska, "Investment Principles". The students were twice his age [he was only 21 at the time].]