"It is always good to have a mentor."
- JE, current CEO of a High Tech Company, in advice to me in 1977
I have been fortunate to have come across many great people in the 33 years of my career, and learned a great deal by observing them and learning from their experiences and stories. A few of them have been great mentors through the years.
Once I asked one of my mentors, Louis Liang: “What can I do for you in return for all these years of free guidance and help?” He replied, “Pass on your experiences to the next generation. If you keep your experiences to yourself, it stays only with you. Mathematically that is 1 x 1. If you pass it on it multiplies: 1 x Many, and then Many x Many.”
In this spirit, here are a few quotable quotes from some very successful individuals that I have come across:
1. In competitive world, it is never over, it is never enough (RS/GS/BAS/KA and many more of my bosses and executives). The famous Yogi Berra quote “It ain’t over till it is over” applies very well in sports situations where the game is over in a definite period of time. But in the game of business, it is not over unless the business is OVER (i.e. failed or closed). That is why when your company comes out with great revenue and profit, or your group delivers phenomenal performance and you are still asked to do more ... do not let up and not to rest on your laurels. Because in a fiercely competitive game of business, a slight slip can cost you dearly and get you out of the game all together.
2. A good general always inspects his ground before he goes into the war (Patton Quote told by my former boss Jim Boyd). He used to emphasize to new hires the need for studying the environment before starting to make major changes.
3. The most terrifying offer in the corporate world: "I am from the corporate support group and I am here to simplify your job" (JZ, former Boss). Based on Ronald Reagan’s famous quote “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.” Now JZ would have been perfectly OK if the offer had been “I am from…and How May I help you by working with your team?”
4. Don’t flip your finger to the guy in the next car. He may be the interviewer you are going to meet for the job (former colleague late Bill Scott).
5. Assumption will make an ass out of you and me (RS: Former CEO of High Tech Company).
6. There are seven types of people in corporate world: Stamp (information) Collectors, Consolidators, Reporters, Observers, Analyst, Instructors and Doers. Each has a role to play as long as each one understand it clearly and let DOers do their job. (AS and LR)
7. Dealing with that group is like throwing water in the wind (BM).
8. It is difficult to jump into a moving train (MA) ... unless you are running for your life like the kids in Slumdog Millionaire.
9. In business world there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. (FD former CEO. referring to companies that are former enemies and now allies and former partners but now in legal disputes)
10. Don't hand the game ball to your pitcher before the game is over. Don't celebrate prematurely (AS). Learning from 2002 Baseball World Series: Game 6 - SF Giants vs. Anaheim Angels.
11. When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt. (Other version: We will let our work do the talking. CB)
12. Don’t ridicule your opponent in public. Don’t awaken a sleeping giant. (Louis Liang)
13. Retire when people ask you "Why" and not "Why Not?" (Vijay Merchant Famous Indian Cricketer)
14. When Elephants fight, it is the grass that gets crushed (Andy Ang and Pravin Shah). Never get in the middle of people (with power) who are having a fight, or create a situation where they have to confront one another on account of you. I have heard another version of this in Philippines “When Elephants are dancing, chickens should stay away” and forever wondered “How did they get Elephants in Philippines in the first place?” I have encountered only one in Manila Zoo in my 31 years of dealings with that country.
15. Get a Good Secretary. She will keep you out of trouble and make your life easy. (Advice from JZ when I got my first management job in 1980 and asked him for advice)
Wednesday April 22nd is Administrative Professionals Day. Remember all those who made your life easier and helped you in many ways - whether they worked for your department or another department.