Play Nice But Win



The following, in no particular order, are principles, traits, ideals, and lessons that have helped me and our company succeed:

  • Curiosity. Have I mentioned curiosity already? It’s so important, I’ll say it again: Always be learning. You want to have big ears. To listen, to learn, and to always be curious. To be open to ambiguity. Design your company from the customer back.

  • Use facts and data to make decisions. Be objective and humble and willing to change your mind if the facts and data suggest that’s what is needed. The scientific method works in business.

  • Commitment, drive, grit, determination, perseverance, indomitable will—you must have these qualities. Try never to be the smartest person in the room. Surround yourself with people who challenge you, teach you, inspire you, and push you to be your best. And learn to recognize and appreciate people’s different talents.

  • Trustworthiness, ethics, and integrity are paramount. You can’t be successful over time without these values. Markets are long-term efficient. If I make a commitment and don’t meet it, or if I deliver a bad product or service, no one will want to buy from me again.

  • The rate of change is only increasing. It will not slow down in the future. You must change or die. There are only the quick and the dead. Organizations need to constantly reimagine themselves, understanding and anticipating all the factors, including and especially technology, that will impact them in the future.

  • Ideas are a commodity. Execution of them is not. Coming up with a great idea or strategy is necessary but not sufficient for success. You must execute. This requires detailed operational discipline and understanding.

  • Teams win championships, not players. Always put the team ahead of the player.

  • Life is about taking a punch, falling down, getting back up and fighting again! (See number 3.) Never let a good crisis go to waste—and if there is no crisis, create one (as a way of motivating change and progress). During a crisis—or any other time—focus on what you can control. Crises often create new opportunities. Instead of wallowing in your problems, find the opportunity.

  • Don’t be a victim, ever. Victimhood is a losing mindset. Self-determination requires focusing on what you can control and drive forward.

  • Confidence, not arrogance. Humility, not ego.

  • Everybody gets angry. But don’t stay angry. Anger is counterproductive. Instead, be motivated by a desire to help others and . . . Love, Family, Country, Compassion, and Mastery.

  • Be (as we like to say at Dell) pleased but never satisfied. This means improving continuously—the Japanese call it kaizen. It means being in a race with no finish line. Celebrate and appreciate achievements, but always look ahead to the next big goal or opportunity.

  • Success is a horrible teacher. (See numbers 3 and 10.) Setbacks and failures make you stronger over time—if you let yourself learn from them.

  • Be willing to take risks, experiment, and test things. As the rate of change increases, small experiments will build a path to success. (See number 13) Humility, openness, fairness, and authenticity.

  • Have respect for others and treat them as you want to be treated.

  • Optimism . . . obviously! Finding ways to grow optimism in yourself will make you much happier.

  • Find purpose and passion in your life by being part of something greater than yourself.