13 Quotes to Think Better About Business

I’ve always thought that the best way to learn is to stand on the shoulders of giants. When it comes to a field as complex as business, this is even more true. Here are some of my favorite quotes from leading thinkers about how to think better when it comes to business, probability, risk, innovation, leadership, and much else.

On Culture

“If you want to make change, begin by making culture. Begin by organizing a tightly knit group. Begin by getting people in sync. Culture beats strategy-so much that culture is strategy.” ~ Seth Godin, This Is Marketing

On Probability

“Black Swan logic makes what you don’t know far more relevant than what you do know.” ~ Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan

On Innovation

“Smart people are a dime a dozen and often don’t amount to much. What counts is being creative and imaginative. That’s what makes someone a true innovator.” ~ Walter Issacson, Introduction to Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos

“The little secret in product is that engineers are typically the best single source of innovation; yet, they are not even invited to the party in [the waterfall] process.” ~ Marty Cagan, Inspired

On Leadership

“Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.” ~ Jocko Willink & Leif Babin, Extreme Ownership

“Leadership is about recognizing that there’s a greatness in everyone, and your job is to create an environment where that greatness can emerge.” ~ Bill Campbell

On Communication

“People who are skilled at dialogue do their best to make it safe for everyone to add their meaning to the shared pool-even ideas that at first glance appear controversial, wrong, or at odds with their own beliefs. Now, obviously, they don’t agree with every idea; they simply do their best to ensure that all ideas find their way into the open.” Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillian, Al Switzler, Crucial Conversations 

On Risk

“The line between ‘inspiringly bold’ and foolishly reckless’ can be a millimeter thick and only visible with hindsight.” ~ Morgan Housel, The Psychology of Money

On Management

“Your role as a manager is not to do the work yourself, even if you are the best at it, because that will only take you so far. Your role is to improve the purpose, people, and process of your team to get as high a multiplier effect on your collective outcome as you can.” ~ Julie Zhuo, The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You

“The first dimension of [developing trust] is about being more than ‘just professional.’ It’s about giving a damn, sharing more than just your work self, and encouraging everyone who reports to you to do the same. It’s not enough to care only about people’s ability to perform a job. To have a good relationship, you have to be your whole self and care about each of the people who work for you as a human being. It’s not just business; it is personal, and deeply personal.” ~ Kim Scott, Radical Candor

On Career

“In the eyes of the company, you are your boss’s opinion of you.” ~ Cynthia Shapiro, Corporate Confidential

On Theory

“In academia there is no difference between academia and the real world; in the world, there is.” ~ Nassim Taleb, Skin In the Game

On Business

“A healthy company culture encourages people to share bad news. A company that discusses its problems freely and openly can quickly solve them. A company that covers up its problems frustrates everyone involved. The resulting action item for CEOs: Build a culture that rewards-not punishes-people for getting problems into the open where they can be solved.” ~ Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things


Leave a Comment