If I Knew Then Advice on careers, finance, and life from Harvard Business School's Class of 1963

Ralph Linsalata on Business

It is easier to make the correct decision when you have extra cash. If your company is short of cash, it is easy to make the wrong decision, although sometimes cash shortage is a fact of the job.

A strong team around you is critical. Loyalty of your direct reports is important, especially if you have earned it.

Never use the pronoun “I” except when taking responsibility for a problem or mistake. When success occurs, it should always be “we” or “they.”

Communication with all employees is critical. Strategies must be explained repeatedly — as many as 20 times — before most people really understand them.

The right culture is also critical. It takes a long time and an exceptional amount of effort to change a bad culture. Most companies fail because they do not have the right culture. 

All competitive advantages last for a very short time. You have to be paranoid to stay as the leader of a successful company.

Great companies invest in their people. They encourage people to achieve the seemingly impossible, knowing they are allowed to fail so long as they make intelligent decisions and do not put the company at significant risk without the consent of their management.

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