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What We Can All Learn from Top Tech Leaders 

Year after year, tech giants like Amazon and Apple post record revenues. Even the coronavirus pandemic didn’t stop the seven biggest tech companies from growing in value by $3.4 trillion in total last year. Consider this, Amazon brought in more than $830,000 in revenue per minute in its most recent quarter.

As easy as it would be to believe that the titans at the helm of these behemoth companies rose to the top in a very linear, smooth fashion, the fact is, they didn’t. Adversity and struggles are part of the story of all these leaders.

Many of these CEOs have shared their advice regarding the best ways to lead, inspire and run a successful company. Learning from the successes and failures of top tech leaders can give you the wisdom needed to set your company on the path to a profitable venture.

Apple CEO Tim Cook

  • Focus on People, Strategy and Execution: Apple CEO Tim Cook stresses that he spends almost all of his time on people, strategy and execution. “If you have the most brilliant people, wicked smart people that collaborate well together…a strategy that’s right, and if you’re executing like crazy…if you get those three right, then the world is a great place.”
  • Stay Focused: “We focus on making the world’s best product and enriching people’s lives…We have to make sure at Apple that we stay true to focus, laser focus…we can only do great things a few times only on a few products.”
  • Love What You Do: “It’s incredible every day to work with what I consider to be the smartest and the most innovative people on earth…I love every minute of it. It’s an incredible place to be…it’s my oxygen.”

Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder, and Executive Chairman

  • Take Risks: When he was 30 years old, Bezos had a lucrative position at a hedge fund, but he saw promise in the future of the internet economy and got the idea to build a bookstore online. Bezos’ boss agreed the idea had potential, but he still tried to convince Bezos that it would be safer to keep the job he had.“When you think about the things that you will regret when you’re 80, they’re almost always the things that you did not do. They’re acts of omission. Very rarely are you going to regret something that you did that failed and didn’t work or whatever.”Bezos decided to move across the country to start Amazon out of a garage in the Seattle suburbs in the summer of 1994. The website went live a year later, on July 16, 1995.
  • Be Fast and Nimble: “All of my best decisions in business and in life have been made with heart, intuition, guts — not [with] analysis.”“Most decisions … are changeable, reversible – they’re two-way doors…In those cases, when you make a decision that is ‘suboptimal,’ you don’t have to live with the consequences for that long. You can reopen the door and go back through.”These types of decisions should be made “quickly.” Otherwise, people or companies that spend too much time deliberating over reversible decisions risk being subject to “slowness, unthoughtful risk aversion, failure to experiment sufficiently, and consequently diminished invention.”
  • Be Your Unique Self — Always: In his final letter to shareholders as Amazon’s CEO, Bezos wrote about the importance of maintaining your originality. “We all know that distinctiveness – originality – is valuable,” Bezos wrote. “We are all taught to ‘be yourself.’ What I’m really asking you to do is to embrace and be realistic about how much energy it takes to maintain that distinctiveness. The world wants you to be typical – in a thousand ways, it pulls at you. Don’t let it happen.”He went on to say, “Being yourself is worth it, but don’t expect it to be easy or free.”

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet.

  • Find Something That Excites You: “I’ve always felt that — more than what your mind says — you need to figure out what your heart is excited by. It’s a journey and you will know it when you find it.””If you find that, things tend to work out.”
  • Be Impatient: In a 2020 virtual commencement address to graduates, Pichai’s advice to them was to challenge the things they find wrong with the industry. “There are probably things about technology that frustrate you and make you impatient,” he said. Don’t lose that impatience. It will create the next technology revolution and enable you to build things my generation could never dream of.”He shared his own story of coming late to the PC revolution. Pichai, who grew up in India, told graduates that his family’s TV only had one channel, and he didn’t have regular access to a computer until he came to America for graduate school. Today, he’s at the helm of a company that’s worth $1 trillion.Pichai encouraged students to raise questions in other important areas, too. “You may be just as frustrated by my generation’s approach to climate change, or education,” he said. “Be impatient. It will create the progress the world needs.”

If you’re seeking proven strategies to help you become the leader that your company needs to thrive, contact our team. We’d love to start a conversation with you and see how we can help.

Wayland K. Lum is the Founder and Managing Director of Copperbox. You can learn about Wayland’s work with leaders at www.copperbox.co, and connect with him at wayland@copperbox.co.