Ask any number of CEOs how to succeed in business and you'll get an equal number of insights and great advice. But upon further review, the 72 answers I got back could be boiled down to 10 categories of behaviors.
To up your Entrepreneur Quotient, compare your skill level with the 140-character CEO responses that follow in each category. Then implement an EQ-improvement plan, starting with your weakest category. Enjoy!
1. Work on yourself first.
- "The key to success is to expand as a person and take the necessary action to make the lives of those around you even greater." --Tony Robbins, chairman and CEO, Robbins Research International
- "Solve big challenges. Become the expert. Listen, learn, create and blog your expertise with everyone. Then persevere and pivot." --Jeff Mankoff, CEO, vPromos
- "No one is appointed to the role of leader. It's earned by doing something that has such an impact that others are inspired to follow." --Deanna Mulligan, president and CEO, Guardian Life Insurance Company of America
- "You've got to walk the talk when you're in any business advocating behavioral change, which may mean facing certain demons, owning up to them and changing your ways." --Celia Stokes, CEO, eDriving
- "Be a STAR: Straightforward, Thoughtful, Accountable, Resolve. Practicing these four attributes will make you a better leader in any organization." --Subir Chowdhury, CEO, ASI Consulting Group
- "Your level of energy and the energy you give to your audience is the most important tool your presentations will ever have." --Tracey McCormack, CEO, McCormack Media Services
- "Never ask anyone to work harder than you do. Put others' interests first. Recognize effort, but reward results. Laugh a lot and leave the drama at the door." --Scott Carter, CEO, PMCapital
- "True power and growth come from making and keeping commitments with yourself, your employees and your clients. Never take this for granted." --Corey Blake, CEO, MWI
- "Cherish your productive hours. Ask yourself: will that coffee meeting, cool conference or browsing Twitter help you succeed?" --Alex Wayenberg, founder and CEO, ShapeScale
- "Approach every day with gratitude and humility. Listen with an open mind. Ask relevant questions. Disrupt, or prepare to be disrupted..." --Patrick Spear, CEO, GMDC
- "Entrepreneurial leadership is the tenacious yet chaotic balance between: digging deeper, ferociously learning, building, caring and a dash of some crazy fun!" --Angela Keaveny, founder and CEO, Rowdydow bbQ
- "Introspection is vital. Understand your strengths and weaknesses to successfully lead others. Identify the people that can augment your weaknesses and empower them." --Trey Holder, CEO, The Solutions Network
- "In a company, leadership is ground zero. Culture, focus, ambition, all ripple from the exemplary role of a leader." --Chase Thomason, CEO, GoSkip
- "A leader is one that stands on principles, leads with action, and speaks with his heart!" --Eric Sutter, CEO, EMS Barcode
- "Always keep your passion for learning new skills. Adapt and grow, or risk becoming irrelevant." --Robin Jowett, CEO, Datatrue.com
- "One, take ownership for your mistakes and learn from them--that's the only way to grow. Two, build relationships that last. Three, have a strong sense of purpose." --Sam Sinai, CEO, Deco Lighting
- "If you want to be in the middle of the action, sit in the middle of the action. Don't bury yourself behind an office door." --Sanjay Beri, CEO, Netskope
2. Be honest, have integrity.
- "Put integrity at the center of everything you do. So much more important than what you do, is how you do it." --Scott Harrison, founder and CEO, charity: water
- "Keep it real, keep it honest. Foster authentic dialogue to bring the right solutions to key issues." --Bernard J. Tyson, chairman and CEO, Kaiser Permanente
- "Compromise wisely to meet group objectives + never compromise character (i.e. integrity, commitment, loyalty, dependability, etc.) = success." --Graham Doxey, CEO, Knōd
- "Smart CEOs know they can't solve ALL issues they face, and they can't solve ANY unless they face them openly and honestly with their team." --David Corbin, CEO, davidcorbin.com
3. Deal with reality.
- "Respond to events with logic, rather than emotion. Trust facts rather than assumptions. Remain objective." --Steve Luczo, chairman and CEO, Seagate Technology
- "Analytic rigor is like exercise for your business--it builds strength and endurance if you sweat the details and push yourself to not just go the extra mile, but to crush it." --Dawn Zier, CEO, Nutrisystem
- "Let data be your guide and remember that your people are your greatest asset. Focus on these two areas and the rest will follow." --Alex Yastrebenetsky, CEO, Info Trust
4. Never give up.
- "There are plenty of failed yet intelligent and highly educated entrepreneurs. Persistence is the most powerful predictor for success." --Mark Aramli, CEO, BedJet
- "Building a successful business is a marathon, not a sprint. Long term success results from endurance and persistence." --Peter Bauer, CEO, Mimecast
- "Business and life definitely involve luck. But the harder we work, the luckier we get." --Alex Terry, CEO, Conversica
- "Patience has been paramount in my '30-year overnight success.' Nothing happens overnight; instead, it has taken decades of work and planning to succeed." --Walter O'Brien, CEO, Scorpion Computer Services
- "There are plenty of times when it seems like the world's against you, but you have to get up, brush yourself off and say 'why not us'?" --Tom Villante, CEO, YapStone
- "A solid business model and sound strategy might keep you in business, but only through sweat do you win. Execution is too often underrated." --Aaron Allred, CEO, Acima Credit
- "Everyone wants to lead during the good times, but it is only during adversity that true leaders emerge and stand apart from the pack." --Mike Sarraille, CEO, Vetted
5. Give customers what they want.
- "If you can solve a big problem, you can build a big business. Don't worry about a competitor copying your model. Just don't let them exceed your passion and execution." --Tom America's Best 401k Zgainer, CEO,
- "I believe that you can have anything in life you want, if you help enough people get what they need." --John Rush, CEO, C7 Device Recycle
- "Always keep your customers' needs in mind. Concentrate on building solutions, and you won't have to worry about growth." --Malik Zakaria, CEO, Field Engineer
- "Listening to the customer is key. Pay attention, and make improvements quickly to better serve those who make your success possible." --Lin Dai, co-founder and CEO, Hooch
- "Chatbooks works because we make life easier for busy parents (our customers), who set up automatic photo books once, and get new volumes as they live their lives." --Vanessa Quigley, CEO, Chatbooks
- "The key to sales and marketing holds true for successful leadership: understand others' needs. Therein lies the path to the win-win." --Steve Matthesen, president and CEO, Acosta
- "Give people what they want but never thought they had access to. Then democratize it--offer it to the masses." --Benjamin Nowak, CEO, Cinamaker
6. Build your team.
- "If you surround yourself with good people, instill them with ownership, and provide loyal support and honesty, you're being a strong leader." --Greg Farrar, CEO, ECRM
- "Surround yourself with passionate, detail-oriented perfectionists who strive every day to build a better today then yesterday." --David Harouche, CEO, Multimedia Plus
- "Building the right team has led us to multiple, successful exits. Strategic entrepreneurism requires that the team, not just the CEO, build what strategic buyers need." --Jon Fisher, CEO, CrowdOptic
- "I make my people famous in their industry. They do the hard work anyway, and public recognition is amazing for motivation and loyalty." --Sol Orwell, CEO, sjo
- "You are the result of those you spend the most time with. Surround yourself with people that are smarter and more successful than you." --Matthew Dunn, CEO, Dunn Orthodontics
- "I create a sense of belonging to a bigger purpose for my employees by transferring to them my passion for what I do, and then by setting the example." --Sean Hopwood, CEO, Day Translations
- "The secret is the team. Empower them with a clear mission, to be delivered with values like fierce resolve, integrity and one-company collaboration." --Himesh Bhise CEO, Synacor
- "A trait of a good leader is that when you leave, no one notices because you've instilled leadership in the other managers." --Julie Aiken, CEO, Ameritech
- "It's all about the trusting relationships we build with the people we serve. That's what makes it work. Transparency. Keeping promises." --Wayne Hamilton, CEO, National Processing
- "Focus on enhancing the progression of individuals through meaningful relationships." --Jonathan Ord, CEO, Dealer Socket
- "Build a team of equals who love what they do, who produce superior results, and who place service at the top of their list of priorities." --Amy Cook, CEO, Osmond Marketing
- "Stick with what you know. Create a team that complements your strengths, and collaborate regularly with an ecosystem of trusted partners." --Brad Walters, CEO, Monnit
- "Build a great team and then get out of their way so they can achieve greatness together. Culture and values are everything in a startup." --Monika Kochhar, CEO, smartgiftit
- "I've found that business success starts with the people. It's incredible what can happen when you combine the right team with the right vision." --Scott Smith, CEO, CreditRepair
- "Building a team of people you trust is important to success; trusting yourself is even more important." --Jan Walden, CEO, Topazery
7. Create confidence through preparation.
- "Demonstrate trust in your smaller actions. The resulting confidence is key to real innovation." --Geraldo Thomaz, CEO, VTEX
- "I take advantage of opportunities long before they arrive by being prepared. That way I can move quickly to make the very best of them." --Gavan Thorpe, CEO, Boostability
- "Always spend less than you make. This way, you will be prepared for opportunities that will come your way. This is my definition of luck." --Manuel Fragoso, CEO, GSTrackme
- "We teach the economic value of certainty. Drive, focus, core values and a ruthless commitment to results build confidence." --Michael Isom, CEO, VaultAIS
8. Find a compelling vision and purpose.
- "Disrupting any industry is not for the faint of heart, but if true change is what you're after, you must have a clear aspirational goal and never lose sight of it." --Ron Packard, CEO, Pansophic Learning
- "Clearly establish a foundation of core values and missions. Then make decisions and stay focused on the purpose of your business with them." --Eric Bandholz, CEO, Beardbrand
- "We have been able to grow and succeed because of a hyper-focus on particular initiatives, and the ability to execute swiftly and decisively." --Nicholas Coleman, CEO, Shipsticks
- "Have a clear vision, hire great people, hold them accountable, be disciplined, embrace change, focus on your customer and celebrate success." --Josh McKee, CEO, Atlas Staffing
- "Give your employees a vision, high performance standards, resources and respect. Then watch them excel." --Thomas Olds Jr., CEO, Generations Healthcare
- "Forget carrots and sticks--only inspiration drives lasting change/growth. Using vision, courage, know-how and tenacity, leaders inspire." --Jennifer Silverberg, CEO, Smart Commerce
- "Believe wholeheartedly in what you've created. Stop at nothing to tell the world. Then over-deliver like they can't believe." --Steve Overton, CEO, Plansight
9. Execute a solid strategic plan.
- "Selling a business is not only a financial and legal matter, but also a sales and marketing matter--just like selling a product or service." --Bob Goldsmith, CEO, BCMS
- "Adapt to what works. Find out what other successful people are doing in your industry and make it better. No need to reinvent the wheel." --Tyler Copier, CEO, Likewise Marketing
- "You need to make 1,000 right decisions for every 10 wrong decisions." --Patrick Nelson, CEO, Nelson Brothers Professional Real Estate
- "Stick to your plan. Identify reasons and gaps stopping you. Don't re-plan, resolve. That and relationships are how we've never lost a customer." --Keith Barr, CEO, Leading2Lean
- "Become legendary in your field by never settling for anything but the highest quality. Quality employees, quality products, quality service." --Shaun Alldredge, co-founder and CEO, Legend Solar
- "Two ingredients; one easy, one hard. 1) Easy. Believe deeply, and care absolutely about your product. 2) Hard. Make the right decisions the majority of the time." --Paul Chapuis, CEO, OnQ Solutions
10. Stay curious.
- "Insatiable curiosity ultimately creates opportunity." --Arne Sorenson, CEO, Marriott International
- "We are always a Diad: half teacher half student. Our goal must always be to become hopelessly curious to a broader scope of our world than the mere limitations of our vertical career." -Jay Abraham, CEO, Abraham Group