Forbes Best Business Mistakes: How Today's Top Business Leaders Turned Missteps into Success
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Forbes Best Business Mistakes
How Today’s Top Business Leaders Turned Missteps into Successes
By Bob Sellers
Most business leaders are more inclined to attribute their success to superior intelligence and wit than brag about mistakes they made along the way. Yet some of the most successful people in the business world are the ones who made significant mistakes but were smart enough to take away valuable lessons from them. In Forbes Best Business Mistakes (Wiley; July 2010; $22.95; 978-0-470-59877-1; Paper), journalist Bob Sellers, the former CNBC anchor, provides examples of how accomplished individuals have succeeded despite – and in some cases because of – missteps. Featuring exclusive profiles and interviews with some of today’s biggest business leaders, he shows how they summon their creativity, push harder for solutions, and turn missteps into opportunities to achieve their goals. Indeed, these mistakes often turned out not to be the worst, or the biggest – but the best they ever made!
Sellers found common themes: capitalizing on circumstances that presented reward as well as risk; learning and applying lessons that defined successful careers; and following that inner voice, even when it meant changing career paths to better suit their talents. According to Sellers, “The stories can help you see that something positive can come out of blunders, even big ones.” This book covers leaders from a full spectrum of experience, from legends, gurus, and chief executives to the next wave of business leaders and well known business personalities, including:
While managing a little pilot plant operation for GE in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Jack Welch’s team blew the roof off of the factory while trying to make a new type of plastic product. Welch thought his career was over when he was summoned to New York to meet with GE group executive, Charley Reed. But Reed worked with Welch to fix the problem rather than honing in on the mistake. Welch later became GE’s 8th Chairman and CEO, a position he held for 20 years. About the incident, Welch says “It gave me a lifelong lesson to not kick someone when they were down. And second, it gave me exposure to higher-level people. I probably wouldn’t have met this guy for another two years or so, and he turned out to be an incredible guiding force in my career”.
After failing at 22 other jobs, Barbara borrowed $1,000 from a boyfriend, quit her job as a diner waitress, and started a tiny real estate office in New York City. Today, with just over $4 billion in revenues, The Corcoran Group is one of New York’s premier real estate companies. The most valuable mistake she made was investing $73,000 and all of her first year profits into Homes on Tape. The idea seemed perfect. People would never again have to leave their homes to view a new apartment. But the idea started to tank when her salespeople, featured in the tapes, refused to show them to clients. They were worried that peers would take clients from them because their images might be more appealing. But Corcoran salvaged the idea by putting Homes on Tape on a new technology called the Internet. Tapping into this new resource gave Corcoran the upper hand and allowed her to start making apartment sales within a week. It took years for her competitors to catch up. By then, she had made millions.
Jim Buckmaster, the now CEO of Craigslist, enrolled in medical school but always felt like it was not the right fit for him. So he dropped out, giving up a certain career that most could only dream of. When asked what prompted him to drop out, Buckmaster responded: “Despite the fact that I don’t have a plan B, and I don’t know how I’m going to pay off this debt, and everyone around me is telling me this is a mistake, the inner voice, or gut feeling- that definitely was in play there.” This inner voice was what drove him away of the medical field. It took ten years, but Buckmaster eventually found something he loved: web publishing. He developed a fascination with it and got a job with Craigslist. Less than a year later he was running the company.
The book also addresses valuable lessons from the business lives of John Bogle, Peter Lynch, Bill Gross, William O’Neil, Jim Rogers, Mohamed El-Elrian, Robert Prechter, David Novak, Bill First, Steve Forbes, Danny Wegman, Gary Goldberg, Jerry Levin, R.J. Kirk, Meredith Whitney, Jason Kilar, Ian Bremmer, John Cappelletti, Jim Cramer, Suze Orman, Mark Cuban, Arianna Huffington, Ben Stein, Herb Greenberg, Arthur Laffer, and Dave Ramsey,
Forbes Best Business Mistakes is a compilation of inspirational personal narratives that demonstrate how mistakes can be turned around and how true business leaders can use them to learn, persevere, and achieve success.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Bob Sellers is a veteran journalist who has also worked in the financial services industry. He anchored “Today’s Business” and “Market Watch” for CNBC, tracking daily changes in the financial markets. He has also anchored Fox News Channel’s “FOX News Live.” Sellers has written columns for Success and Gear magazines, placed work in various newspapers, and has recently written columns for the HuffingtonPost.com.
Forbes, LLC is a leading publishing and media company. It has a bi-weekly publication of Forbes magazine, and its well known Forbes 400 list and list of billionaires. Forbes.com Inc. is a leader in Internet media and gives business information, services, and lifestyle editorial content to serve the needs of business leaders, professionals and investors. This website contains daily reports on the business of technology and business information updates. It also includes complete online editions of Forbes magazine, Forbes Global, Forbes ASAP, and Forbes FYI.
Forbes Best Business Mistakes
By Bob Sellers
Wiley; July 2010
$22.95; 978-0-470-59877-1; Paper