30 Great Entrepreneurs in Their Own Words

30 years of entrepreneurs speaking their minds
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George A. Naddaff

1. "No business, no problems. No problems, no business. Problems are opportunities for solutions."

-- George A. Naddaff,Boston Chicken, UFood Grill (2008)

2. "We're so focused on our company's mission that we could pee through a straw."

-- Richard Tait, Cranium (2002)

3. "My house is full of microcomputer magazines, and I still come home every night to my IBM-PC. I don't play the violin, you know."

-- Bill Gates, Microsoft (1984)

Donny Deutsch

4. "I have yet to meet a genius in my business. Actually, I've yet to meet a genius in anything. Once you realize there are no geniuses out there, you can think, I can do that. One reason I've succeeded is I have that naive sense of entitlement."

-- Donny Deutsch, Deutsch Inc. (2005)

5. "Do you think the earth was created by an accountant? No! The earth was created by the combustion of a creative explosion. Fire and chaos are what started everything. Then order came on top of that."

-- Robert Redford, Sundance Institute (2003)

6. "One of the huge mistakes people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. You don't choose your passions; your passions choose you."

-- Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com (2004)

7. "People who suggest the end of the workplace totally misunderstand the social nature of work. There is a social fabric to work. Techno-geeks will talk about people wanting to get out of the office and wanting to work by e-mail only, but techno-geeks don't have the social side of life. They don't miss what regular people do."

-- Scott Cook, Intuit (1994)

Scott Adams

8. "The biggest impact of technology has been to allow us to do more unproductive things at a far more impressive rate."

-- Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert (1994)

9. "We're getting to a point where we can't fart without calling a meeting. And if I'm bored by them, Christ knows what other people must be thinking."

-- Anita Roddick, The Body Shop (1990)

Michael Bloomberg

10. "Things are going great now, and that's the time to leave. If you want to walk out rather than being carried out, you have to go when everybody says, 'How could you possibly leave? Things are so good.' Every time I hear that, I think, Damn it, I have to go. I don't have any choice."

-- Michael Bloomberg, on his choice to leave Bloomberg LP to run for mayor of New York City (2001)

11. "We are the 10th largest brewer in the United States. Do you know what that means? We have one two-hundredth of the beer market. That's minuscule. Twelve years of busting my ass, and we've gone from nothing to infinitesimal. If I'm lucky, I'll go another 12 years and get to be small. That's my life's work."

-- Jim Koch, Boston Beer Co. (1996)

12. "Stay constantly irritated. When you walk through your business, focus on what's wrong. What's right is what you pay your staff for."

-- Evan Cole, ABC Carpet & Home (2002)

13. "Even after 40 years, my adrenaline starts pumping every time my plane touches down in a new country. Every trip is a story waiting to happen."

-- Pat McGovern, International Data Group (2007)

Elon Musk

14. "I'm a Silicon Valley guy. I just think people from Silicon Valley can do anything."

-- Elon Musk, SpaceX, Tesla Motors, SolarCity (2006)

15. "We learned that a product doesn't sell just because you're trying to do good in the world. You still have to have a healthy distribution, a good marketing strategy, and price the product properly."

-- Jerry Greenfield, Ben & Jerry's, on the poor reception of the Peace Pop (1990)

16. "The office manager is the most important person in our organization -- no question. I like to say we have a pyramid organization, and the office manager is at the top."

-- Henry W. Bloch, H&R Block (1987)

Harvey Mackay

17. "If the house is on fire, forget the china, silver, and wedding album -- grab the Rolodex."

-- Harvey Mackay, founder of Mackay Envelope and author of How to Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive (1990)

 Roxanne Quimby

18. "I had some midnight-of-your-soul type of times. Once, I came home from a fair and found the window in my cabin blown in. Snow was all over. It was 20 below and 3 in the morning. I hadn't made any money, and the car had just barely made it there. I really believe that success is just getting up one more time than you fall."

-- Roxanne Quimby, Burt's Bees (2004)

19. "When should a founder bring professional management into a new business? Immediately. When should the founder turn over control of that business to a professional manager? Never."

-- Phil Romano, Fuddruckers and Romano's Macaroni Grill (1991)

 Mary Kay Ash

20. "I often say I started with nine people, friends of mine, really, who just didn't have the nerve to say no. They didn't intend to stay around, but they were going to help me get it started. They were kind and sweet -- and last year one of them made $325,000."

-- Mary Kay Ash, Mary Kay Cosmetics (1985)

21. "I got fired. I was over 60, and it's hard to get a job when you're over 60. People don't want to give you insurance. I thought: I better get a job! Hell, I lost $8 billion!"

-- Ted Turner, Ted's Montana Grill (2004)

22. "The hardest part of dealing with entrepreneurs is getting them to recognize their own weaknesses. Sometimes they will say they are weak in certain areas and then try to jury-rig an organizational concept to compensate for those weaknesses. But they really don't mean it -- they don't believe it."

-- John Sculley, Apple Computer (1987)

23. "Balance is the new form of self-torture. If you grew up with a picture of Twiggy on the wall, I think balance is the same sort of thing: You can try to attain it, but it's just not happening."

-- Candice Carpenter, iVillage (2001)

24. "This is a business built on personality. Personality and imaginative merchandising. You're selling a candlelit dinner by poolside, not a piece of wax on a stick. You're selling romance, not flatware."

-- Gordon Segal, Crate & Barrel (1985)

25. "Too many people take a mediocre product and fail. Eighty percent of all newly advertised products fail. The manufacturer decides the consumer is a fool. That's why it fails. They think advertising is a cure-all."

-- Frank Perdue, Perdue Farms (1984)

26. "We still buy used, but nice, furniture. My desk came from somebody that had gone bankrupt. I've thought about the tears that had to fall on that desk, and it's something that reminds me every day I'm not going to let this happen to me."

-- Ken Hendricks, ABC Supply (1991)

27. "It's strange being a founder. No headhunters call me. They call everyone else in the company, but not me."

Jerry Yang

-- Jerry Yang, Yahoo (1998)

28. "My most crucial role is maintaining simplicity. When I see two or more people gathering at the coffeemaker, I know they're making this business more complex than it needs to be."

-- Ken Iverson, Nucor (1996)

29. "I once asked a group of business owners, 'Who here would like to spend more time reading?' All the people in the room raised their hands. 'Then why don't you?' I asked, to which one guy replied, 'Because books don't ring."

-- Hyrum W. Smith, Franklin International Institute (1991)

30. "There are people who don't belong in large organizations."

-- Peter Drucker (1985)

Last updated: Apr 1, 2009




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