You don't have to be a billionaire to have keen insights into the business world. Looking back over our 2012 issues, we found much to be inspired by in the words of the entrepreneurs and business experts--big and small--with whom we've spoken. Take note of the wisdom offered up by these innovators, raconteurs and candid observers, and apply it to your own work going forward. We predict good things ahead.
Running a company is like playing a video game.
"Running a company is like playing a really great SimCity. You set the right foundations in place, hire awesome people and move from office to slightly larger office and increase perks and amenities."
--James Park, CEO, Fitbit
A leader should take the secrecy away.
"Politics comes from secrecy. The leadership of the company--who has all the information--has the power to change that. It's the leader who can tell all the employees everything, and by so doing, take the secrecy away."
--Mark Leslie, former chairman and CEO, Veritas Software
Having fun makes you more innovative.
"I found the more fun I created in the company, the more creative and innovative it became. That was the big kahuna--the fun piece."
--Barbara Corcoran, founder, The Corcoran Group
Praise good work to keep employees happy.
"What praise ultimately does is hold up a mirror. It acknowledges what people already think about themselves: that they're good at what they do. You're making someone happy and fulfilled and more excited to work with you. And for almost no effort at all."
--Ross McCammon, the Esquire guy
Believe that you are No. 1.
"I like to say we're 'justifiably confident.' But really, who wants to work with No. 2? If you don't believe you're No. 1 and don't believe you can build the best products and services, why would anyone else want to work with you?"
--Ben Lamm, CEO, Chaotic Moon
Taking the more difficult road will have the bigger impact.
"You're not just trying to do something marginally, incrementally better. You're doing something that is a fundamental paradigm shift, that will have exponential impact. That means it's harder to do, but ultimately, if it's successful, the impact it has is far greater."
--Steve Case, founder, Revolution
Small businesses have the same problems as the big guys.
"Mom-and-pop businesses have the same issues as the Fortune 500. The difference is that big companies spend millions on consultants to fix them."
--Christopher Myers, CEO, BodeTree
Conquer the insurmountable.
"The key to our success is focusing on one insurmountable task each day and surmounting the hell out of it. It's tenacity--that's what powers the entrepreneurial spirit."
--Jackie Summers, co-founder, Jack from Brooklyn
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Learn to be a coach and mentor.
"The entrepreneur has to go from a control freak to a trusting manager to an emotionally intelligent coach and mentor."
--Ed Hess, professor at University of Virginia'sDarden School of Business
Act despite your fear.
"People think having courage means you have no fear. Courage is taking action despite the fear."
--Linda Sapadin, psychologist
Give your brand an emotional connection.
"A lot of business owners fall in love with their own product and forget that other people need to be romanced by a story. A brand should make you feel something when you say the name. Without context, it's just stuff."
--Mike Bisceglia, president, Stauer
Redirect the agenda.
"If you're an entrepreneur entering a category, maybe you can't set the agenda, but if you can redirect that agenda, that's how you win. If you're going to enter a category and be a 'me too,' don't bother."
--Jim Stengel, branding consultant
Don't mess with moms.
"Mom bloggers are ruthless."
--Elisa Camahort Page, COO, BlogHer
Craft a better call to action.
"If the call to action is always 'buy, buy, buy,' that sounds like a 5-year-old saying, 'Mom, Mom, Mom' all the time."
--Michael Becker, managing director for North America, Mobile Marketing Association