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Dose of Motivation: 52 Inspirational Quotes About Success by Influential CEOs

Alan Rabinowitz
Alan Rabinowitz
at SEO Image
business.com Contributing Writer
Updated Jan 23, 2023

Here are 52 inspirational quotes and business advice from uber-successful CEOs. Bookmark this now to keep the inspiration flowing!

Entrepreneurs can improve their chances of success by studying the habits of famous founders and CEOs. Below are 52 inspirational pearls of wisdom from business leaders of different trade backgrounds and verticals. Consider their advice and see where it may lead you and your business. 

>> Learn More: Inspiration Revealed: 36 Top CEOs Share Their Secrets to Success

Words of wisdom

  1. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”  – Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”  – Steve Jobs, late CEO of Apple
  3. “To me, business isn’t about wearing suits or pleasing stockholders. It’s about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials.” – Sir Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group
  4. “Every time you make the hard, correct decision, you become a bit more courageous, and every time you make the easy, wrong decision, you become a bit more cowardly. If you are CEO, these choices will lead to a courageous or cowardly company.” – Ben Horowitz, Co-Founder of Andreessen Horowitz and Opsware
  5. “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ballpark. Aim for the company of immortals.” – David Ogilvy, Founder of Ogilvy & Mather
  6. “Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you.” – Tony Hsieh, late CEO of Zappos
  7. 7. “I always did something that I was a little not ready to do. I think that is how you grow. When there’s a moment of ‘Wow, I’m not so sure that I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, it’s then that you have a breakthrough. Sometimes that’s a sign that something really great is about to happen. You’re about to grow and learn a lot more about yourself.” – Marissa Mayer, former President and CEO of Yahoo
  8. “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” – Drew Houston, Co-Founder and CEO of Dropbox
  9. “Any time is a good time to start a company.” – Ron Conway, Founder and Co-Managing Partner of SV Angel

Getting priorities straight

  1. “The question I ask myself like almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’ … Unless I feel like I’m working on the most important problem that I can help with, then I’m not going to feel good about how I’m spending my time. And that’s what this company is.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Meta Platforms
  2. “High expectations are the key to absolutely everything.” – Sam Walton, late Founder of Walmart and Sam’s Club
  3. “Life is fragile. We’re not guaranteed a tomorrow, so give it everything you’ve got.” – Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
  4. “Balance suggests a perfect equilibrium. There is no such thing. That is a false expectation. … There are going to be priorities and dimensions of your life, how you integrate them is how you find true happiness.” – Denise Morrison, former President and CEO of Campbell Soup Company
  5. “Leaders get out in front and stay there by raising the standards by which they judge themselves – and by which they are willing to be judged.” – Frederick W. Smith, Founder and CEO of FedEx
  6. “No man can be successful, unless he first loves his work.” – David Sarnoff, late CEO of RCA
  7. “It’s not about having a specific set time; both personal and professional lives are 24/7. It’s simply more about making the right allocation to each one and recognizing that it’s going to be different every single day.” – Ellen Kullman, former CEO of DuPont
  8. “You don’t need to be a genius or a visionary, or even a college graduate for that matter, to be successful. You just need framework and a dream.” – Michael Dell, CEO of Dell
  9. “The heart and soul of a company is creativity and innovation.” – Robert Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company

Did you know?Did you know? CEOs who embrace mindfulness can improve their mental health, maintain their physical health, increase their emotional intelligence, boost productivity and enhance creativity.

Getting to the heart of the matter

  1. “You have to be very nimble and very open-minded. Your success is going to be very dependent on how you adapt.” – Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp
  2. “It’s not about how to get started; it’s about how to get noticed.” – Steve Case, former CEO of America Online
  3. “Your reputation is more important than your paycheck, and your integrity is worth more than your career.” – Ryan Freitas, Co-Founder of About.me 
  4. “Be undeniably good. No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for that.” – Anthony Volodkin, Founder of Hype Machine
  5. “If you can’t feed a team with two pizzas, it’s too large.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder and Executive Chairman of Amazon
  6. “Don’t worry about people stealing your design work. Worry about the day they stop.” – Jeffrey Zeldman, Founder of “A List Apart” magazine
  7. “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” – Thomas Edison, late Co-Founder of General Electric
  8. “Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.” – Jack Dorsey, Co-Founder and former CEO of Twitter
  9. “The most dangerous poison is the feeling of achievement. The antidote is to every evening think what can be done better tomorrow.” – Ingvar Kamprad, late Founder of IKEA 
  10. “Always look for the fool in the deal. If you don’t find one, it’s you.” – Mark Cuban, Owner of the Dallas Mavericks and Co-Owner of 2929 Entertainment
  11. “There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.” – Jason Fried, Co-Founder and CEO of 37signals  
  12. “Fail often so you can succeed sooner.” – Tom Kelley, Founder and Chairman of D4V and Partner of Ideo
  13. “Nothing works better than just improving your product.” – Joel Spolsky, Co-Founder of Stack Overflow, Trello, HASH and Fog Creek Software (now Glitch)
  14. “Get big quietly so you don’t tip off potential competitors.” – Chris Dixon, Co-Founder of Hunch
  15. “An entrepreneur is someone who has a vision for something and a want to create.” – David Karp, Founder of Tumblr

TipTip: If you are at the beginning stages of starting your business, consider these 12 steps to start your company on the right foot, such as writing a business plan, knowing your competition, getting the proper insurance and establishing a web presence.

Digging down deep

  1. “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them.” – John C. Maxwell, Founder of The John Maxwell Company
  2. “Stay self-funded as long as possible.” – Garrett Camp, Founder of Expa, Uber and StumbleUpon
  3. “Timing, perseverance and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” – Biz Stone, Co-Founder of Twitter  
  4. “The only thing worse than starting something and failing … is not starting something.” – Seth Godin, Founder of Squidoo and Yoyodyne
  5. “Anything that is measured and watched improves.” – Bob Parsons, Founder of GoDaddy and CEO of Parsons Xtreme Golf
  6. “The secret to successful hiring is this: Look for the people who want to change the world.“ – Marc Benioff, Co-CEO of Salesforce
  7. “Data beats emotions.” – Sean Rad, Co-Founder of Adly and Tinder
  8. “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” – Reid Hoffman, Co-Founder of LinkedIn
  9. “When you innovate, you’ve got to be prepared for everyone telling you you’re nuts.” – Larry Ellison, Co-Founder and CEO of Oracle
  10. “Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset. It ensures that you will absolutely be doing things different from everybody else.” – Sara Blakely, Founder and CEO of SPANX
  11. “Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.”  – Henry Ford, late Founder of Ford Motor Company
  12. “Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it, the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.” – Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder and CEO of Thrive Global and Co-Founder of The Huffington Post 
  13. “Risk more than others think is safe. Dream more than others think is practical.” – Howard Schultz, Co-Founder and Interim CEO of Starbucks
  14. “Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, Co-Founder of Google
  15. “Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve.” – Mary Kay Ash, late Founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics [Check out these 50 inspiring quotes from trailblazing women.]
  16. “I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature.” – John D. Rockefeller, late Founder and CEO of Standard Oil Company
  17. “I never took a day off in my twenties. Not one.” – Bill Gates, Co-Founder of Microsoft Corporation
  18. “Don’t take too much advice. Most people who have a lot of advice to give with a few exceptions generalize whatever they did. Don’t over-analyze everything. I myself have been guilty of over-thinking problems. Just build things and find out if they work.” – Ben Silbermann, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Pinterest
  19. “Work like hell. I mean, you just have to put in 80- to 100-hour weeks every week. [This] improves the odds of success. If other people are putting in 40-hour workweeks and you’re putting in 100-hour workweeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing, you know that you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.”  – Elon Musk, Co-Founder of SpaceX, Co-Founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, and CEO of Twitter

Additional reporting by Sean Peek

Image Credit: DisobeyArt/Shutterstock
Alan Rabinowitz
Alan Rabinowitz
business.com Contributing Writer
business.comb.
Alan is the CEO of the Award Winning SEO Firm SEO Image. He has been marketing websites since the late 90's and has optimized small to mid-size firms for extremely competitive keywords.