Friday, February 17, 2012

Words of Wisdom from Thomas J. Watson - Past President of IBM

IBM has, over the years, been hailed as a great business to model. In some ways, they are. Sure, they've had their ups and downs, and committed more than one faux pas, but hey, they're still around and still going gang-busters.

Today's entry is provided by “Quotes of the Day” – A great place to find quotes.

Thomas John Watson was born at Campbell, New York on this day in 1874. He went to work for National Cash Register at Dayton, Ohio and was general sales manager at the time he left with a felony conviction for his part in NCR's conspiracy to control the used cash register market. He joined the Computing Tabulating Recording Company in 1914, made president the next year, and within a decade the company took on the name International Business Machines. Watson caused placards saying "THINK" to appear in offices, and was responsible for the boring, if reassuring, corporate look of IBM engineering, support, and sales staff.

  • Would you like me to give you a formula for ... success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You're thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all.... You can be discouraged by failure — or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember that's where you'll find success. On the far side.
  • Good design is good business. Design must reflect the practical and aesthetic in business but above all ... good design must primarily serve people.
  • Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops.
  • Solve it. Solve it quickly, solve it right or wrong. If you solve it wrong, it will come back and slap you in the face, and then you can solve it right. Lying dead in the water and doing nothing is a comfortable alternative because it is without risk, but it is an absolutely fatal way to manage a business.
  • A man is known by the company he keeps. A company is known by the men it keeps.
  • You don't hear things that are bad about your company unless you ask. It is easy to hear good tidings, but you have to scratch to get the bad news.
  • Recently, I was asked if I was going to fire an employee who made a mistake that cost the company $600,000. No, I replied, I just spent $600,000 training him. Why would I want somebody to hire his experience?

All from Thomas J. Watson, 1874 - 1956

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