Blue field like crop rows and burgundy border, saying "Don't Just Survive - Thrive

What it Takes

By Stephen A Schwarzman

Honestly, here’s a guy that basically knew he was hot stuff from the start and his parents set him up from the start. He seems to get what he wants and when it doesn’t work out, he learns his lesson instantly and never repeats his mistakes. Wish it were like that for us mere mortals. Almost no women in this book, but he does celebrate being a pioneer for we Jews in the business, so there’s that.

These are just some takeaways from his memoir I want to remember:

  • Fancy business school doesn’t actually prepare you to do the job. AKA, assume you have to train everyone.
  • Group interviews are designed to see how gracious you are to your competitors.
  • Access = be the conduit of information. Put people together.
  • Review tactics:
    • Look at behavior, physical cues
    • Read the resume but start conversation with something both parties will find interesting – but he’s intuitive, not planned
    • Go straight to anamolies in resume
    • Did they have fun meeting people in the firm, how is the company different from others they’ve worked or interviewed with
    • Share exciting thing and see how they react.
    • Ask about something interesting or newsworthy, do they have a point of view? (Exercise in dealing with uncertainty)
  • Rules for successful interviews:
    • Be on time
    • Be authentic
    • Be prepared
    • Be candid
    • Be confident
    • Be curious
    • Avoid discussing divisive political issues unless asked
    • Mention people you know only if you like and respect them
  • When card calling a sale or investment, say what you’re doing and what you have them down for. Once you make that sale, use it to leverage others. “So and so went in for this.”
  • Effective negotiation really comes down to a few simple points. Stay focused on those.
  • Make the other party feel in control if you want something and make them feel comfortable.
  • Once you have some power, you have to speak up for the little guys.
  • Don’t take notes in meetings, just pay attention to what and how things are said.
  • Figure out what people’s problems are. The harder the problem and the scarcer the solution – the more valuable you are if you can solve it.
  • It’s just as hard to start and run a small business as a large one.
  • Go big with big energy. If you’re going to raise $5 mil, raise $50.
  • Sometimes the reason people invest is “because it’s us and because it’s a moment.”

25 Rules for Life and Work

  • It’s as easy to do something big as it is to do something small. Pick a fantasy worthy of your pursuit, with rewards commensurate your effort.
  • People are made, not born. Never stop learning. Study people and organizations that are successful.
  • Write or call people you admire and ask for advice or a meeting. Meeting people early in life creates a valuable bond.
  • Nothing is more interesting than your own problems.
  • Great managers understand how each part works on its own in relation to all the others.
  • Information is the most important asset.
  • When you’re young, choose a job with a steep learning curve and strong training. First jobs are foundational.
  • Remember that impressions matter.
  • Nobody can solve everything. An army of smart people talking openly does.
  • Believe in something greater than yourself.
  • Never deviate from your sense of right or wrong. Always do what you say you will.
  • Be bold. Accept risk when everyone else is frozen.
  • Never get complacent. Nothing is forever.
  • Sales rarely get made on the first pitch. People don’t like change so you have to convince them to accept it.
  • If you see a huge, transformative opportunity, don’t worry that others aren’t pursuing it.
  • Success comes down to rare moments of opportunity.
  • Time wounds all deals. Don’t wait.
  • Don’t lose money.
  • Make decisions when you are ready, not under pressure. People will pull you but be firm. This is actually good negotiation, too.
  • Worrying is an active, liberating strategy.
  • Failure is a good teacher. Talk about failures openly and objectively.
  • Hire 10s whenever you can. You can build things around a 10.
  • Be there for the people you know to be good, even when others walk away.
  • Everyone has dreams. Help others.