When I had first joined a corporate training institute, the tutor had told that – to be a great business leader, a person had to first start thinking like one. Since then, reading biographies/autobiographies of various highly regarded corporate entrepreneurs and managers has been a constant habit of mine. While some of the books did make for pretty dour reading, I found most of these literary accounts to be instructive, informative, and definitely inspiring. On a professional front, some of my idols are:
- Steve Jobs – Imagine being ousted from your own company, and then making a grand comeback – to save the same firm from troubled waters. Well, Steve Jobs did exactly that, and rightfully deserves a mention at the top of this list. The thing about Jobs that really stands out for me was his fantastic self-motivation levels, which helped him become the head of Apple – and the most recognizable name in the world of computing and telecommunications.
- Martha Stewart – The head of Living Omnimedia, and an inspiration for every aspiring corporate leader like me. I had first seen her at a television show – and, being intrigued by her track record, had decided to read up more about her. It is nothing short of amazing how well Stewart had managed to provide employee training to each of her peers and colleagues. The lady has definitely managed to create a legacy of her own.
- John Cadbury – There has to be something special about a person, whose surname has, over time, become synonymous with chocolate products, right? Thanks to Cadbury’s (the person, not the brand!) superior communication training, workplace conflicts at his office were pretty much unheard of. The manner in which Cadbury and his successors managed to expand the reach of the brand steadily over time is remarkable too.
- Larry Page – At any contemporary leadership training institute, instructors typically advise candidates to read up on the biography of Larry Page – the person who is at the helm of Google, the premier online search engine worldwide. Together with Sergey Brin, Page gave practical shape to his vision of making the process of searching for any type of information online easy and quick. Now, ‘googling’ something is used in colloquial English as a verb!
- Richard Sears – The tale of Richard Warren Sears is a classic rags-to-riches story. Born in a humble background, Sears made it a point to pursue expert soft skill training, to eventually rise to the top of one of the most famous multinational organizations in the United States. If you wish to get an idea of how to progress with your personality development – read up about Sears, and you will get a fair idea.
- Walt Disney – Okay, I’ll admit this – it was not my professional skill trainer who got me interested in Disney’s works. Even during college, I was a huge fan of Disney shows (I still catch re-runs of the ‘Duck Tales’, whenever it is aired). He was much more than an average business head – and was, at one time, the top animation movie producer in entire Hollywood. From a cartoonist in local dailies, to one of the most known faces in showbiz – Disney’s journey had indeed been an outstanding one.
- William Morris – The person who literally change the face of the international print industry, at the end of the nineteenth century. Morris was a master at providing specialized corporate training to each of his employees, so that the latter could function at their most efficient levels. At a time when autocratic leadership was much in vogue, Morris’ man-management style came as a fresh, welcome change.
- Estee Lauder – Not often mentioned in the various ‘top-10’ lists that are published on the net – but for getting valuable pointers for providing sales training to my workers, Estee Lauder’s example is the one I find to be the best. From perfumes and hair products, to practically all other types of high-quality cosmetics, Lauder was never shy of trying to come up with new and improved products – and most of her attempts were successful ones.
- Ralph Lauren – According to the prestigious Forbes magazine, Ralph Lauren features among the top 200 richest people in the world – but his professional excellence cannot simply be managed in monetary terms. From a young age itself, Lauren was well-versed in social communication training, and often used to sell apparels and accessories to his friends. Later on, he became one of the most revered fashion moguls in America – and even opened his own clothing line. Undying ambition and a clear career focus can indeed take a person to great heights!
- Louis Mayer – If you are a Hollywood fan, you must be aware of the immense popularity of the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (Mayer) productions. MGM would not have been half as well-known, if it had not been for the efforts and visions of Louis Mayer. It was Mayer’s self-motivation that helped his company to successfully survive (in fact, thrive) the Great Depression phase – which engulfed many other established companies.
- Sam Walton – It takes a lot of guts to leave one’s parents’ relatively profitable farmlands and venture out to establish one’s own line of chain stores – and Walton had more than the requisite amounts of courage and determination to do precisely this. Thanks to him, the whole world is now familiar with the Walmart and the Ben Franklin outlets. Recognized as one of the most influential businesspersons of the century – Sam Walton had a keen eye on quality-management and used to regularly organize employee training sessions.
Since I take an active interest in Linux programming, I find the works of Linus Torvalds to be mighty inspiring as well. As far as soft skill training related to the hospitality sector is concerned – J. W. Marriott (Jr.) is easily the person I look up to the most. Do make it a habit of reading the chronicles of professional leaders who have excelled in their respective fields. I certainly benefited from doing so!