Summary: What It Takes Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence by Stephen A. Schwarzman
Summary: What It Takes Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence by Stephen A. Schwarzman

Summary: What It Takes Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence by Stephen A. Schwarzman

Rule #1 Set overarching goals.

It’s easy to do something big as it’s to do something small. Aim for a goal worthy of your pursuit, with rewards commensurate to your effort.


Rule #2 Set an example.

The best executives are made, not born. They study the people and organizations that have had enormous success. And they pay it forward to the world by being a free course everyone can learn from.


Rule #3 Connect with new people.

Reach out to the people you admire. You never know who is  willing to meet with you and offer you the advice you’re looking for. You may even end up forming a connection you can leverage for the rest of your life. Meeting people early in your life can almost always work in your favor.


Rule #4 Provide people with new perceptions.

When you’re going through tough times, it’s too easy to think nothing in the world seems bigger than your own problems. The solution is to think about what others are dealing with, and find ways to provide them with thoughtful ideas and new perceptions.


Rule #5 Collaboration is key, not competition.

Every business is a set of distinct but closely interconnected functions. The best managers understand how each team works on its own and how it functions in relation to others.


Rule #6 The more you know, the more you can spot the patterns. 

Information is one of the most important assets in business. The more you know, the more perspectives you have and the more likely you’re to spot the patterns and anomalies before your competition does. Always be open to new ideas whether they’re people, experiences or knowledge.


Rule #7 Prioritize learning over money, early in your career. 

First you learn, then you earn, goes the conventional wisdom. When you’re early in your career, work for jobs that provide you with a steep learning curve and training opportunities. That includes saying no to prestigious companies and jobs that aren’t right for you.


Rule #8 Pay attention to your first impressions.

First impressions really matter. When you’re going to a meeting or an interview, you must get your presentation right. The other person will be watching out for all sorts of clues and cues that tell who you are. Be punctual and prepared.


Rule #9 Talk openly and exchange ideas.

No one can solve every problem on their own. But an army of smart people talking openly and exchanging information with each other will.


Rule #10 Be a problem-solver and pain-reliever to others. 

When we’re in a tough spot, we tend to focus on our own problems. In these times, nothing in the world seems bigger than what we’re dealing with. The answer to this usually lies in identifying and trying to fix someone else’s problems.


Rule #11 Strive for something bigger than yourself.

Strive for something bigger than yourself and your needs. It can be your family, company, country or a duty for service. If you take on any challenge with such belief and intention, your goal will not only be fulfilling, also meaningful.



Rule #12 Integrity is the name of the game. 

Never deviate from your sense of right and wrong. Integrity is the name of the game. It’s easy to maintain your integrity when things are going well. But it’s hard when everything is falling apart and you don’t have a check to write. Always do what you say you will and never ever mislead people for your own good.


Rule #13 Act when the time is right. Never hesitate.

Have courage and confidence to act when the moment seems right. Don’t fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis. Successful business owners accept risk when others are cautious and take action when everyone is frozen. And they do so by betting on informed, educated guesses.


Rule #14 Complacency is the enemy.

Never let complacency take over you. When you’re winning, it’s too easy to get complacent. Nothing in the world is forever. When you stop trying, you’re giving your competition permission to defeat you. So always be seeking ways to reinvent and improve yourself. Organizations are more fragile than you think.


Rule #15 Master the art of selling.

Sales rarely happen on the first pitch. Just because you believe in your idea and what you’re selling doesn’t mean everyone else will. You need to articulate and sell your vision over and over again with conviction.


Rule #16 Go where people don’t. 

If you see a huge, transformative opportunity, don’t worry that no one else is pursuing it. Chances are you’re seeing what others don’t. The harder the problem, the more limited the competition, and the greater the rewards for whoever can work on it.


Rule #17 Always stay alert for opportunities and threats.

Sometimes, the best opportunities come in the blink of an eye. Be alert, open and ready to pounce when the time is right. If you’re not prepared to apply massive effort, either the opportunity isn’t compelling enough as you think or you’re not the right person to pursue it.


Rule #18 Don’t wait too long for an agreement.

Time wounds all deals, sometimes even fatally. More often than not the longer you wait, the more surprises await you. In difficult negotiations especially, keep everyone at the table long enough to come to an agreement.


 Rule #19 Don’t lose ‘money’.

Cash is king. Don’t lose money. Before you pursue an opportunity, assess the situation and objectively see both risks and rewards.


Rule #20 Don’t act under pressure.

Make a decision when you’re ready. But avoid making decisions when you’re under pressure. Don’t feel pressured by people pushing you for a decision for their own purposes. When in doubt, you can almost always say “I need a little more time on this. I’ll get back to you.”


Rule #21 The right amount of skepticism can be healthy.

Skepticism can be an active and liberating activity. If channeled properly, it allows you to identify the downside of any situation and drives you in the right direction.


Rule #22 Look at the failures (and successes) objectively.

Failure is the best teacher in almost any organization. Be willing to share your failures openly and objectively, and encourage your people to do the same. When things go wrong, don’t play the blame game. Instead, look at the failure objectively and analyze what went wrong. You’ll learn new rules for decision-making and organizational behavior.


Rule #23 Hire the best talents.

Hire 10s whenever you can. Your 10s are proactive about sensing problems, designing solutions and taking a business to new opportunities. They also attract and hire other 10s.


Rule #24 Be kind.

A random act of kindness can change the course of someone’s life and create life-long friendship and loyalty. Be there for people you know to be good, even when everyone else is walking away. Anyone, no matter how successful and happy they’re on the outside, can end up in the most difficult situations.


Rule #25 Lift others up.

Everyone has dreams. Help each other as you climb to the top of the mountain together. And when you reach the peak, do whatever you can to bring others up and help them achieve the most beautiful vision of their lives.