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Best CEO Quotes I Use For Wisdom

Some of the best CEO quotes have guided my thought process and belief system as far back as I can remember. Their wisdom is invaluable.

Illustration by Francisco Galarraga

In a world where there are no politicians left to look up to, there are few places to turn to for leadership. CEOs of successful companies have guided my thought process and belief systems as far back as I can remember. From the time I was 13, my father would regularly buy me books on famous CEOs. Till this day I continue to consume their wisdom. These are the best CEO quotes that have given me continual inspiration and wisdom.

Carly Fiorina - Hewlett-Packard

“To build a great company, which is a CEO's job, sometimes you have to stand up against conventional wisdom.” - Carly Fiorina 

She had a bit of a rough time during the Republican primaries, but quite honestly, politics and business are not the same thing. Nonetheless, Fiorina is someone I have watched for a long time. I was an active trader during the merger of Compaq and HP. This is one of my favorite quotes and a good way to begin this list. Very simply, conventional wisdom gets you conventional results. Unconventional should have zero negative connotation. The ability to think abstractly is by definition unconventional. Abstract thinking is one of the four most important qualities of a CEO. 

Joe Wilson - Xerox

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person - not just an employee - are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” - Anne M. Mulcahy

This is something I have always been instinctually attracted to as a principal of management. Beyond happiness – which is a bit of an ambiguous concept when looked at from an individual employee standpoint – it is important to establish a unified culture that all employees feel drawn to on a personal level. The culture must unite – never divide – its members.

Larry Ellison - Oracle

"When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts."  - Larry Ellison

Absolutely. During meetings, I often ask my employees, investors and corporate relationships, if they "can visualize what I just said in their heads?" Many times the answer is "no." But that doesn't make the visualization in my head any less correct.

Marissa Mayer - Yahoo

“I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” - Marissa Mayer

Marissa's words echo strong. There is no reward without risk. Both reward and risk are measurable only to the degree one has confidence in their ability to succeed. The greater the risk, the more value the reward should have to the risk taker. Success leads to a re-evaluation of your abilities, which drives intellectual growth. Well taken risk and well received reward leads to a self fulfilling cycle of growth. 

Jeff Bezos - Amazon

The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’ - Jeff Bezos

Bezos is by far one of my favorite CEOs of all time. His ability to communicate his vision is almost unparalleled. 

I have literally responded to those who have challenged me with "Why?", simply with "Why not?"

Elon Musk - Tesla

Brand is just a perception, and perception will match reality over time. Sometimes it will be ahead, other times it will be behind. But brand is simply a collective impression some have about a product. - Elon Musk

This is my favorite quote on this list. Musk is a different kind of CEO than many of the others on this list. Something more akin to a Zen master of corporate culture and leadership. The idea that perception and reality are the yin and yang of a CEO's journey to success is perhaps the most enlightening knowledge leaders can find. But it takes living through a few cycles of exchange between the two that one comes to understand how to use the knowledge. 

Warren Buffett - Berkshire Hathaway

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. - Warren Buffett

Exactly what one would expect from a CEO with an impeccable record to match his reputation. His humility is awe inspiring and all of us, CEO or otherwise, should be mindful of his warning.

Howard Schultz - Starbucks

In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic. - Howard Schultz

As obvious as it may sound, passion is not the same thing as drive. Drive can be determined by the end result, irrespective of the means. Passion is found in the means. Spirit is demonstrated in action. Strength is not always visible. Starbucks never gets old, because of the passion embedded in its culture.

Steve Ballmer - Microsoft

The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn’t think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential. - Steve Ballmer

The digital age opened up a gateway to potentials few could have imagined. Ballmer's tenure has offered him a unique perspective on time, change and empowerment. Together they are a path to success for those with clarity and vision.

Larry Page - Google

If you’re changing the world, you’re working on important things. You’re excited to get up in the morning. - Larry Page

Google is perhaps the most important company in the world. They truly have changed the world. If you don't wan't to do the same, if you don't wake up excited to do the same, you never will. 

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