Jim Collins

“You can let your pace be determined by conditions outside of your control, or you can let your pace be determined by your own internal discipline.”

“What we found in the good to great companies, is that the leaders didn’t necessarily have charismatic personalities, but even more, they said that they first thing is to figure out isn’t where to drive the bus, but instead who should be on the bus, who should be off the bus, and who should be in the key seats. Then we can figure out where to drive the bus.”

“If leadership is ultimately the art of getting people to want to do what must be done, that doesn’t say anything about your position, that’s a role. You may or may not have people reporting to you, but you’re still a leader.”

“At any stage of your career, what is your mini bus? What is it that you’re responsible for?’“

“How are you taking care of your people? Take care of your people first, then your career will follow.”

“The most important question that you should wrestle with is who you allow to mentor you. Who do you want to spend your time with?”

Level 5 Leader

  • Level 1 – Individual skills

  • Level 2 – Team Skills

  • Level 3 – Management Skills

  • Level 4 – Leadership Skills

  • Level 5 – The X Factor; the duality of a personal humility and an indomitable will; this is being in service to a cause that is bigger than you are

“To get to Level 5, ask: What cause do I serve and what do I want to achieve? And what can I do to help those around me succeed? Because you never succeed alone.”

“No great company, result, or sports dynasty happens as a single event, a single breakthrough. Each step drives the next step around back to the top and then it repeats. Flywheels are really ultimately about long-term momentum. You go through short-term challenges, but you can do that with greater consistency if you know what the flywheel is.”

Stockdale Paradox: You must never confuse the need on the one hand for unwavering faith that you can and you will prevail in the end with the need on the other hand the discipline to confront the most brutal facts as they actually are.”

“One of the best ways to remain young is to spend time learning from those younger than you.”

“Always be interested instead of interesting. Be the most interested person in the room.”

“You are never an expert, you are always a student. And far more important than what you know is what you don’t know.”

Hedgehog & Fox: “When you’re able to get your company focused on one or a few really big things, that’s how you can begin to get traction in the flywheel and unify everyone’s efforts. When identifying the big things, think of three intersecting circles: What you’re really passionate about, What you can be the best in the world at, and what really drives your economic engine.”

When finding your personal hedgehog, identify:

  1. What you love to do

  2. Find what you’re genetically encoded for

“Study yourself like a bug. Make clinical observations of yourself.”

“Have great mentors that are calming and quieting, not noisy.”

“The one kind of luck you always want to be attuned to is not what luck, or what it is that happened, but the who that happens.”

“In low odds games, the probabilities are still low you’re going to succeed. If at the critical moment of commitment you don’t go all in, those low odds go to zero.”

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About Jim

Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors.  Having invested more than a quarter century in rigorous research, he has authored or coauthored six books that have sold in total more than 10 million copies worldwide. They include Good to Great, the #1 bestseller, which examines why some companies make the leap to superior results, along with its companion work Good to Great and the Social Sectors; the enduring classic Built to Last, which explores how some leaders build companies that remain visionary for generations; How the Mighty Fall, which delves into how once-great companies can self-destruct; and Great by Choice, which is about thriving in chaos—why some do, and others don’t.

His most recent publication is Turning the Flywheel. It explores how leaders can best harness the flywheel effect to build and accelerate momentum.

Driven by a relentless curiosity, Jim began his research and teaching career on the faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1992. In 1995, he founded a management laboratory in Boulder, Colorado, where he conducts research and engages with CEOs and senior-leadership teams.

In addition to his work in the business sector, Jim has a passion for learning and teaching in the social sectors, including education, healthcare, government, faith-based organizations, social ventures, and cause-driven nonprofits. In 2012 and 2013, he had the honor to serve a two-year appointment as the Class of 1951 Chair for the Study of Leadership at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Jim holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences and an MBA from Stanford University, and honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado and the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.  In 2017, Forbes selected Jim as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds.

Jim has been an avid rock climber for more than forty years and has completed single-day ascents of El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite Valley.