5 Quotes From Prominent Business Leaders Explained


“There are no longer any great jobs where someone tells you precisely what to do.” -Seth Godin

The nature of work (and satisfaction with that work) is changing. It’s only becoming more common for people to strike it off to go do their own thing for an income, and shun the conventional idea of being someone’s employee. Another quote that touches this same concept comes from Bob Dylan, in which he says “A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” This represents a frictionless life, and as a job often constitutes a large part of one’s life, you can bet someone doing whatever he wants all day isn’t complaining about his work.

“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” -Sam Walton

Sam Walton ought to know well what customers want and how to keep them—it’s certainly how he was able to build that retail icon called Wal-Mart. Simply put, if you aren’t thinking with your end customer in mind, you’re doing it wrong. These are the people who vote with their money, and if you’re doing things well and happen to get lucky, they might just vote for you.

“Willingness to change is a change, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while.” -Jack Welch

This is simple Darwinism at work. If you’re not changing and refining constantly, then you’re not paying enough attention. Track things, take measurements, and see what processes may unwittingly be affecting other processes. Think of your business as chasing that elusive, ever-moving target of peak efficiency and customer satisfaction.

“Business is never so healthy as when, like a chicken, it must do a certain amount of scratching around for what it gets.” -Henry Ford

The father of American industrial business here is describing that when your company is in an exploratory phase, whether it’s developing a new product or simply coming up with an idea for a first one, this is when it is at its strongest. This is because it’s at a point where it can afford to take the time necessary to strategize and plot next steps. This is basically free to do in the beginning stages; a notebook, a pen. It’s more difficult to do in later stages, but it represents your company being healthy enough to take time away from going to “war” every day for the sake of being better the next day.

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” -Thomas Edison

The microwave. Velcro. The pacemaker. Accidental inventions are undeniably important, but to call them “accidental” is something of a misnomer. Give yourself enough creative permission to make mistakes, but moreso than that, give yourself permission to be satisfied simply at the act of bringing something new into the world whether or not other people use it. Update and refine your plan if that should be the case, but don’t forget that you participated in what pretty much seems to be the human privilege in this universe: that of trying new things for their own sake.