10 Lessons From Influential People in Business


Leadership is a matter of choice and determination. Influential people in business combine their will to succeed in a competitive environment and their urge to benefit from observing other leaders achieving their goals. At the end of the day, observations are used towards building one’s own leadership style.

The following are lessons from influential people in business:

1.        Be innovative

Besides being a timeless animator, Walt Disney was also a strong-willed entrepreneur who created a business empire from scratch. His innovative vision and his determination to achieve his business goals have contributed to the prosperity of his company, which, since 1923, remains a powerful corporate presence. Today, Disney’s leadership team comprises of creative thinkers who foster innovation and utilize the latest technology, while expanding into new markets around the world. The lessons learned from Walt Disney and his leadership style are:

·         Get a reputation for trying new things.

·         “If you can dream it, you can do it.”

·         “Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating those who work with me and aiming their efforts at a certain goal.”

2.        Know your strengths

Schlumberger Chairman & CEO Andrew Gould is well known for his number-crunching skills. By implementing goal-seeking strategies when assuming the role of the leader in 2003, Gould envisioned the renaissance of Schlumberger through return on capital growth, lower net debt and oilfield sector divestitures. Through 2005, Gould managed to meet most of his goals, including return on capital 13%, net debt of $2 million, down 51.2%, and $2 billion raising capital through the divestitures of Sema, Smart Cards, and Electricity Metering. The lessons learned from Andrew Gould in business are:

·         Diversification incurs a high risk, but it can also generate higher returns.

·         “Avoid owning a business that you do not really understand; it will put you in a weak position.”

·         “We need to rapidly adapt to more volatile times”.

3.        Build a strong corporate culture

Each corporate culture is unique and there are many different factors that can go into creating one. But a strong corporate culture is the outcome of at least six components, including vision, values, policies, understanding, involvement and collaboration. Indra Nooyi, Chairman & CEO of PepsiCo., is one of the most powerful women in business. By being the main architect of PepsiCo’s dramatic reshaping, Nooyi is an inspiring leader that pulls in talented and high-performing employees. Behind her, there is the strong company culture that she has instilled to motivate people to work hard and stay in the business.

4.        Take advantage of big opportunities

KeyCorp CEO, Beth Mooney earned her MBA at night in order to join the bank’s management training program and climb up the corporate ladder. Today, Mooney is one of the most powerful women in business, known as the “velvet hammer” in the financial sector, leading a bank of about 94 billion assets and continuing to capitalize on big opportunities. Her renowned ability to use strategical thinking and keep a calm face during a crisis have offered Mooney the privilege to shatter the glass ceiling and become the first – and so far – the only woman to lead one of America’s 20 largest banks. The lessons learned from Beth Mooney in business are:

·         Be able to find and cater under-served markets.

·         See the invisible.

·         “When things look difficult, I go straight to the problem-solving.”

5.        Set career goals

Campbell Soup Company CEO, Denise Morrison, is renowned for her ability to set and meet career goals. With a distinguished track record of building strong business and customer relationships as well as growing companies, Morrison counts more than 30 years in the food business. In fact, Morrison knew since childhood that she wanted to become a CEO, so she set short-term and long-term goals to make her dream a reality. The lessons learned from Denise Morrison in business are:

·         Women need to set clear career goals and be strategic about themselves.

·         Building relationships are what keep a company growing.

·         “Get there but also, be successful there.”

6.        Build a competitive advantage

Bill Gates is the name behind Microsoft all over the world.  A geeky appearance and a commitment to large-scale philanthropy may give the impression that Gates is the easygoing type, but this wouldn’t make him the richest man on the planet, would it? Gates is consistently ranked in the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people for having always being an aggressive business operator. His demanding management has kept Microsoft in the game and he has taken any step required to improve the company’s market domination.

7.        Take calculated risks

Coca-Cola CEO Roberto Goizueta rose through the ranks to become the youngest vice-president in the history of the company, at the age of 35. In fact, Goizueta increased Coca-Cola’s market value from $4 billion to $150 billion and has created more shareholder value than any other CEO in history, making himself a billionaire in the process. By constantly improving its skill set through disciplined learning, Goizueta made the difference and rapidly climbed the ladder of corporate success. The lessons learned from Roberto Goizueta in business are:

·         “You stumble only if you’re moving.”

·         Give new ideas time to bed in; don’t pull the carrots up to look at the roots.

·         “State expectations. Met expectations. Repeat.”

8.        Adapt to changes

In the early 1960s, Sam Walton was the owner of a moderate-sized chain of variety stores scattered around a small cluster of US states. Today, Walmart is in every corner of the country with more than 11,000 locations across the world. The multinational retail corporation has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 1962 and Sam Walton’s entrepreneurship story involves adapting to changes and managing risk. The lessons learned from Sam Walton in business are:

·         Cut out any middleman who does not add value to a product but charges fees for business transactions.

·         “To succeed in this world, you have to change all the time.”

·         “High expectations are the key to everything.”

9.        Become dominant

Warren Buffett is the guru of Finance. The Chairman & CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is a self-made entrepreneur that has turned his company into a massive holding conglomerate of impressive growth. Buffett, known as the “Sage of Omaha”, has become a dominant figure in investment consulting, simply by following his instincts. As Buffet himself says “It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results.”

10.    Become a legend

During the first two decades of his remarkable 30-year career, Steve Jobs, the Apple Inc. founder has altered twice the course of the computer industry with Apple II (19770 and Macintosh (1984). Along the way, Steve Jobs gave the world the laser printer and pioneered personal computer networks. The lessons learned from Steve Jobs in business are:

·         “Focus and simplicity.”

·         “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

·         “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”



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