30 Phrases Top CEOs Live By

30 Phrases Top CEOs Live By

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30 Phrases Top CEOs Say Frequently

As anyone who comes from a small, southern town knows, it is extremely easy to pick up common sayings from those around you. Someone who’s pretty full of it is “all hat, no cattle.” Your perpetually late friend is “slower than molasses in January.” Someone who has just sold a business is “living in high cotton.”

Most of these sayings come from a grandmother or crazy uncle, but they are said so much that they become ingrained in our language, mentality, and culture. Imagine if this were the case with sayings from some of the smartest people out there – the world’s top CEOs.

The following sayings might not be as full of as much character compared to some of the more colorful southern expressions, but they are great lines to shape your business practices around.

Here are 30 quotes you will hear from the top CEOs:

1. “Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.”  – Michael Dell, Dell

2. “Trust your instincts.”  – Estée Lauder, Estée Lauder

3. “The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.”  – Walt Disney, Disney

4. “We’re not going to invest a dollar that doesn’t make sense to invest.” – Marc Lore, Jet

5. “What do you need to start a business? Three simple things: know your product better than anyone, know your customer, and have a burning desire to succeed.”  – Dave Thomas, Wendy’s

6. “Your people determine your product.” – Taso Du Val, Toptal

7. “Make your team feel respected, empowered and genuinely excited about the company’s mission.”  – Tim Westergen, Pandora

8. “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”  – Drew Houston, Dropbox

9. “The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?’” – Jeff Bezos, Amazon

10. “Be simple and reliable” – Jan Koum, WhatsApp

“Always deliver more than expected.”  – Larry Page, Google

12. “Make something that meshes into your daily life.” – Eric Migicovsky, Pebble

13. “There’s an entrepreneur right now, scared to death, making excuses, saying, ‘It’s not the right time just yet.’ There’s no such thing as a good time.” – Kevin Plank, Under Armour

14. “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” – Marissa Mayer, Yahoo

15. “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing and falling over.”  – Richard Branson, Virgin Group

16. “If you’re not a risk taker, you should get the hell out of business.”  – Ray Kroc, McDonald’s

17. “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.”  – Tony Hsieh, Zappos

18. “Capital isn’t scarce. Vision is.” – Sam Walton, Wal-Mart

19. “Life is too short to do mediocre work and it is definitely too short to build shitty things.” – Stewart Butterfield, Slack

20. “In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.” – Howard Schultz, Starbucks

“As long as you’re going to be thinking anyway, think big.”  – Donald Trump, The Trump Organization

22. “Singular focus matters.” – Jeffrey Housenbold, Shutterfly

23. “Smarter is always the answer.” – Samuel J. Palmisano, IBM

24. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”  – Steve Jobs, Apple

25. “I’m not an inventor. I just want to make things better.” – Daniel Ek, Spotify

26. “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” – John D. Rockefeller, Standard Oil

“When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts.” – Larry Ellison, Oracle

28. “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” – Elon Musk, SpaceX

29. “As an entrepreneur, I try to push the limits. Pedal to the metal.” – Travis Kalanick, Uber

30. “Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world…if you do so, you are insulting yourself.” – Bill Gates, Microsoft


By adopting these sayings and the mentalities behind them, you can follow in the footsteps of some of the greatest business leaders. After all, who is better to learn from than the successful people that came before you?

Hope these quotes repeat themselves in your mind! What is your favorite quote?
Lisa Froeling is a business and productivity consultant with over 4 years of experience in human resources working for a major retailer in the country before she decided to build her own business. Her interests include technology, mindfulness as well as time management. You may connect with her on Twitter.


  1. This is an incredible list of inspiration CEO’s and the best one hands down is# 28. “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” – Elon Musk, SpaceX

    This blew me away because I am actually living this RIGHT NOW! Thanks Lisa!

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