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The Greatest Business Leaders of Today: What Can We Learn From Them?

Depositphotos_1760952_sFollowing the examples of some of the greatest business leaders of our times can pay off for you personally, and any business venture you are involved in, whether you are an employee in a corporation or running your own operation.  Scions of American industry, especially, like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, have built companies and helped us reevaluate the landscape of doing business in the world today.

As successful as they are, Gates and Buffet will both tell you that they could have not gotten to where they are today without surrounding themselves with the right people.

A college dropout who rose to become the world's richest man, Bill Gates and his childhood friend Paul Allen started the Microsoft Corporation, whose software is generally credited with making personal computers easy to use and available to the masses. The company's creation, the operating system Microsoft Windows runs billions of computers, telephones, and tablets worldwide. But initially Gates needed the assistance of someone he could rely on to help his idea come to fruition. While in college, he also met Steve Ballmer who is now the CEO of Microsoft and helped Gates get the company off the ground.

Gates has several credos which he believes contributes to a person's success in business as well as life.

  • Believe in yourself - it seems simple, but it's been at the core of Gate's success. Do you exude confidence?  Do you inspire others to act? It's an important personality trait.
  • Team up with others - there's a common saying in business "do what you do best and hire the rest".  You can't be an expert at everything. Make a concerted effort to surround yourself with very smart people.
  • Focus your energy - channel your energy towards your goal, eliminating as many distractions as possible.
  • Look for opportunities others are ignoring - they are everywhere. Orphan ideas. Microsoft's early success came because much larger companies lacked the vision to exploit early computing operating systems.
  • Share the wealth - reward those that contribute to the success of your company. It inspires loyalty and longevity.
  • Learn from your mistakes - stumbling doesn't mean you're finished, it just means you are one mistake less from success.
  • Correct breakdowns - learn from your customers that complain the most. Microsoft spends a lot of money and energy doing just that. Adapt, correct, and evolve. All necessary steps on the path to success.

Another one of the world's richest men, Warren Buffett, the "Sage of Omaha" is considered this generations most astute and successful investor. He regularly trades 'world's richest' titles with Bill Gates; Buffett is known for recognizing undervalued companies, purchasing controlling interests in them, and contributing to their growth and subsequent return on investment. But he didn’t achieve great success all on his own. He received a significant amount of help from his friends and trusted peers. He relied on his close friend, Charlie Munger, to assist him with his investments along the way.


While turning around Dempster Mill Manufacturing, he employed a team of advisors to help him and he would often turn to his value investing friends for advice, to bounce ideas off of. Buffet will be the first one to admit that he could not have accomplished what he has today without great teamwork.

Despite his billions, Buffett lives a very frugal life, still residing in the original house he purchased decades ago, driving his own Cadillac, and reportedly having a cheeseburger and Diet Coke daily for lunch. (He owns a great deal of Coca-Cola shares).  He has no computer at his desk, nor does he carry a mobile phone.

Buffett expounds on some of the tenets he holds close to his heart and advises businesses to take note:

  • He is a big believer in women and says we are underutilizing half of the ingenuity in America.
  • He believes in never investing in a business you don't understand, which is why he has largely steered clear of technology investments.
  • Keep up your relationships -you never know when they will be useful in life, or when you will be able to do something for them.
  • Have a hobby.  Buffett plays bridge at least 12 hours a week.
  • Be aware of your reputation. "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to wreck it."
  • Learn to multitask. Life and business today is complicated, and you need to be able to attend to all of it as it demands.
  • "It's not all about the money."  Buffett and Gates have both given away vast amounts of their fortunes to charitable causes and foundations.
  • Finally, Buffett firmly believes “Without passion, you don’t have energy. Without energy, you have nothing.”

In other words, what you can learn from these men and other giants of industry is that if you truly, truly, love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life.

And the value of teamwork is immeasurable.

Don’t be afraid to go that extra mile and pursue an organizational leadership career.


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Blake completed his undergraduate degree in Justice Studies from Arizona State University. Blake has also recently worked in higher education and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Business.


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Guest Saturday, 25 October 2014

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