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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


Norman Schwarzkopf

Commander, Operation Desert Storm

Norman Schwarzkopf: The soldier was lying on the ground screaming, and I was afraid that he was going to set off more mines. Or, worse yet, he had a badly broken leg, and I was afraid that he was going to cut the artery in his leg and die. So I had to go over there and settle him down. There was nobody else to do it, so I had to walk through the mine field. Believe me, it wasn't a heroic act at that time, it was something that somebody had to do, and I was the man in charge.
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Norman Schwarzkopf

Commander, Operation Desert Storm

Anybody who says they're not afraid of war is either a liar, or they're crazy. And there's nothing wrong with fear. I mean, fear is good. Fear will keep you alive in a war. Fear will keep you alive in business. Nothing wrong with being afraid at all, and everybody should understand that. And fear tends to cause you to focus, it tends to cause your adrenaline to run, it tends to cause you to do things, perhaps to see things in much, much sharper perspective at that instant. What is bad is when you allow that fear to turn into panic, and you allow that fear to petrify you to the point that you cannot perform whatever duty you have to do. That's the thing that's wrong with fear. But there's nothing wrong with being afraid. And true courage is not not being afraid. True courage is being afraid, and going ahead and doing your job anyhow, that's what courage is.
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Stephen Schwarzman

Chairman and CEO, The Blackstone Group

In 1984, Lehman Brothers, where I had worked for my career, had been sold to American Express. I actually was the person handling that transaction. I was 36 years old, or 35, I forget which. I had a non-competition agreement, and as part of my wanting to do that deal, I wanted to leave for a variety of reasons. I didn't like what ethically had happened with the firm. I didn't want to be with the people -- not all the people but the leadership people -- so I worked out a situation where I joined the former chairman of the firm at Lehman, who had been pushed out, which necessitated the need for the sale. He and I had always worked very closely together. So all we were trying to do by forming Blackstone was sort of re-forming our own working relationship. We didn't view it -- and on this, I'm sure I was sort of colossally naive -- as that big a step. I knew we had always been successful doing almost everything together, commercially, and I didn't understand why we wouldn't be. The fact that we had no phone, no office, no company, that small little companies like this were not successful in investment banking, in fact they didn't exist at all -- there was only one of them that existed, which was a small firm founded by a fellow named Jim Wolfenson. Jim's currently the head of the World Bank, but even Jim had never done any larger mergers until that time. We just assumed that we would be accepted as the sort of equivalent of a Salomon Brothers or a Lehman Brothers or a Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley, and I guess that's the height of ridiculous hubris. Because we were too silly to understand that people might be worried about that, we went ahead, and it worked out.
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Stephen Schwarzman

Chairman and CEO, The Blackstone Group

In New York, which may be atypical in the United States, people are only happy if someone they know well is failing. Particularly when you're more vulnerable in a smaller setting, like we were at Blackstone, I know there were many former colleagues who were staying at big firms, who were looking at what we were doing, and some were hoping that we'd make it. But you know, we were somewhat of a threat if we could make it just in a small organization and end up making a good deal more financially than the people who stayed at the large one. That was, in effect, a threat to a system. We were not aware of this, of course. All we were trying to do was pay the rent. We had more modest expectations at the beginning. But we took a number of large leaps at the firm, and part of that is -- you asked a question earlier, "What makes someone successful?" and I think that another answer is sort of feeling what's going on around you, seeing what's going on around you, and taking a big step to take advantage of that. One of those steps, for us, is the second year we were formed, we decided to go forward with a plan we had when we started, to go into the leveraged buy-out business, and neither my partner or I had ever done a leveraged buy-out, which one might think would be a liability when raising money.
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John Sexton

Education & Law

The first times that I saw Greenwich Village or NYU, he and I would drive over in the car -- and you have to remember, I was 10, 11, 12 -- very impressionable; adored him. I mean, he was a good and loving father, never put any limits on me. I mean, never put any limits on his understanding of what I could do. You know, he always expected me to be able to do anything I wanted to do -- as my mother did, which was a great gift. But I remember driving over in the car and sitting in Washington Square Park, and him talking about NYU, and this university. And then we would go down to the Bowery and we would pick up somebody, at random, and bring them out to the house. And for the last three or four years of his life, we never rented upstairs. There were four beds up there, and we would bring these people from the Bowery, and bathe them and feed them and they would live with us -- he called them "handymen," and he was essentially running an occupational therapy program. So that has inbred in me an understanding that we all fall. You know, when you see your hero fall -- but that rehabilitation is possible from the lowest depths; that even a person who -- I mean, it's a very traumatic thing to have your father burst into your fifth grade classroom in the middle of the day completely drunk, and you know, you're there with your classmates; or to find him in the gutter. You know, I'd have to search for him -- sometimes he'd be gone for weeks -- with my mother. But then to see the goodness in that person -- you know, it's a lesson that carries with you -- and, I think, breeds more of a willingness to search for the good in people.
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John Sexton

Education & Law

I mean, Fordham just gave me an honorary degree. Now, I have a Bachelor's and a Master's and a Ph.D. from Fordham. And I got up in front of the students and I said, "The first thing I urge all of you to do when you leave here today -- those of you especially with summas and magnas on your diplomas -- is leave here and as quickly as you can fail at something. Just so you'll understand -- " -- now this is the son of an alcoholic, of course, talking again. "But just so that you understand that there's life after failure." Now, I said, "There's no one in the audience with a grade point average as low as mine, because my grade point average was 2.1 when I graduated from Fordham." I said, "I don't regret what I did. I followed my passions. I took risks. I wouldn't trade what I did for a higher grade point average. But at least those of you that are sitting there with the 2.8s" -- because you can't get 2.1s anymore with grade inflation -- "or the 3.2s -- you know that there's life after failure. And you know that unless you try to take risks, you're not going to really play all the octaves of the piano." So, it was a dominating thing for me to do what Charlie did. And, it affected my life. I mean, it's the reason I got my doctorate. Father Tim Healey, who had recruited me for this honors program at Fordham, but who threw me out of it at the end of my freshman year because my grades were terrible, came up to me in 1963 when I was on the quadrangle. It's May. I'm limping to graduation. And Tim said, "You've been a big disappointment to us." And he said, "But the Vatican Council has happened, and it's going to be important for lay Catholics to understand other religions. And we're starting a Ph.D. program in religion. We'll give you a second chance. We'll give you a fellowship." So, I felt very honored, until I got there in the fall and saw there were only two of us in the program, and he was looking just for somebody that probably didn't have plans, and had spotted me on the quadrangle. So, that's why I got my Ph.D.
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