Don’t Model Another Executive’s Success

You’re not going to like this. Most consultants and coaches recommend studying the  success of other business greats and adapting what these outstanding executives do. Warren Buffett. Donald Trump. Howard Schultz. Bill Gates. Jeff Bezos. Study what they do, implement similar practices and we will be successful like they are. This is wrong.

(By the way, I’m going to ask you two questions at the end of this e-mail.)

Bezos, for example, has built the market value of his company, Amazon, to $84 billion. He has 56,000 employees and sales of $48 billion. At the end of each quarter, Bezos goes away by himself for a 2-3 day retreat. He allows no distractions, takes no phone calls and communicates with no one. So does that mean that to be as successful as Jeff Bezos you should have a 2-3 day isolated retreat every quarter?

Maybe that example’s too easy. Here’s a tougher one. Steve Jobs built Apple into the $500+ billion market cap company it is today. But Jobs was also abusive and mean-spirited to his employees. He screamed at people and demeaned their work at times. So wouldn’t Jobs have been even more successful if he learned to always treat other people with respect and common courtesy?  No.

We idolize too much in business. We hold up business heroes and think to ourselves that if we become like them our results will be like theirs. Business (and life) doesn’t work that way.

A 2-3 day isolated retreat may work for you or it may waste your time. Being respectful and courteous to everyone wasn’t part of who Jobs was and for him to change his basic nature would have negatively affected him in other ways (motivation, creativity, stamina-who knows).

Forget modeling someone else. You need to be like you. You need to know your own strengths and play to your own strengths and motivations.  Each of us has unique strengths. The business executives who succeed find ways to develop their strengths and implement those strengths every day.

No matter how much mentoring or modeling a CEO might do, he will never be another Bill Gates or Fred Smith or Mark Zuckerberg. But there will never be another you, either.  You’ve been given great talents, strengths and skills but you’ll only get the maximum out of them if you deeply understand them and focus on them.

So here’s the questions I promised I’d ask you.

1. Do you know your core strengths and motivations?

2. What is your plan to capitalize on them more in the future than you have in the past?

I’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic. E-mail me at or visit


SIMA® International is a worldwide group of consultants who use the proprietary assessment technology, SIMA®, to help our clients make the best possible “people decisions.”

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