Steve Jobs, on money matters and what he focuses on:

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” – Wikiquote, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal (Summer 1993).

“I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.”

“We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life. Life is brief, and then you die, you know? And we’ve all chosen to do this with our lives. So it better be damn good. It better be worth it.” – Fortune

clayton_christensenProf Christensen is best known for his study of innovation in commercial enterprises.

Professor Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School (HBS) on people who underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers:

Over the years I’ve watched the fates of my HBS classmates from 1979 unfold; I’ve seen more and more of them come to reunions unhappy, divorced, and alienated from their children. I can guarantee you that not a single one of them graduated with the deliberate strategy of getting divorced and raising children who would become estranged from them. And yet a shocking number of them implemented that strategy. The reason? They didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy.

When people who have a high need for achievement—and that includes all Harvard Business School graduates—have an extra half hour of time or an extra ounce of energy, they’ll unconsciously allocate it to activities that yield the most tangible accomplishments. And our careers provide the most concrete evidence that we’re moving forward. You ship a product, finish a design, complete a presentation, close a sale, teach a class, publish a paper, get paid, get promoted.

In contrast, investing time and energy in your relationship with your spouse and children typically doesn’t offer that same immediate sense of achievement. Kids misbehave every day. It’s really not until 20 years down the road that you can put your hands on your hips and say, “I raised a good son or a good daughter.” You can neglect your relationship with your spouse, and on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t seem as if things are deteriorating. People who are driven to excel have this unconscious propensity to underinvest in their families and overinvest in their careers—even though intimate and loving relationships with their families are the most powerful and enduring source of happiness.

If you study the root causes of business disasters, over and over you’ll find this predisposition toward endeavors that offer immediate gratification. If you look at personal lives through that lens, you’ll see the same stunning and sobering pattern: people allocating fewer and fewer resources to the things they would have once said mattered most.

187richardbransonSir Richard Branson holds world records in a few adventures

Sir Richard Branson, famous British entrepreneur, marketing whiz, billionaire and businessman:

Ridiculous yachts and private planes and big limousines won't make people enjoy life more, and it sends out terrible messages to the people who work for them. It would be so much better if that money was spent in Africa – and it’s about getting a balance."

Branson wrote the following letter prior to his embarking on a hot air balloon trip to attempt to break a world record. The letter was for his children in the event he didn't survive (but he did): 

Dear Holly and Sam, Life can seem rather unreal at times. Alive and well and loving one day. No longer there the next. As you both know I always had an urge to live life to its full. That meant I was lucky enough to live the life of many people during my 46 years. I loved every minute of it and I especially loved every second of my time with both of you and Mum.

I know that many people thought us foolish for embarking on this latest adventure. I was convinced they were wrong. I felt that everything we had learned from our Atlantic and Pacific adventures would mean that we’d have a safe flight. I thought that the risks were acceptable. Obviously I’ve been proved wrong.

However, I regret nothing about my life except not being with Joan to finally help you grow up. By the ages of 12 and 15 your characters have already developed. We’re both so proud of you. Joan and I couldn’t have had two more delightful kids. You are kind, considerate, and full of life (even witty!). What more could we both want.

Be strong. I know it won’t be easy. But we’ve had a wonderful life together and you’ll never forget all the good times we’ve had.

Live life to its full yourselves. Enjoy every minute of it. Love and look after Mum as if she’s both of us.

I love you,


American swimmer Dara Torres has just won three silver medals in Beijing - at the age of 41, the oldest Olympic participant ever. It was her fifth Olympic Games.

250daraDara on the cover of a men's magazine

“I have been blessed with amazing people surrounding me. From my family, to my coaches, training partners, stretching, strength and conditioning people and mostly my daughter Tessa. It is Tessa who I am doing this for. To show her when she is a little older that life has no boundaries if you commit to your dreams and never stop believing in yourself. Although Tessa is only 2, I feel inspired by knowing she is watching me and looking at me for guidance and direction. I can’t go a minute and not think of the positive and powerful lessons I am sharing with her.

When my life gets busy, my time for myself minimal, I look deep inside my soul and wonder what my father would tell me. Even though he unfortunately passed from Colon cancer a few years ago, I feel his presence, hear his words and feel comforted by his love that will never leave me. My work is other people’s play. I am in a pool doing what I was meant to do, swim.

For anyone who feels stifled or stuck in their life, I say break down those barriers of indecision. Never let anyone set your personal or professional agenda. Live every day with the passion of your last. If I can inspire both women and men in anything it would be that age is just a number, not a death sentence. Wake up every morning with a plan and a dream. If you do, like me, dreams do still come true in your 40s and beyond!”

350oprah"There's no better way to make your mark on the world and to share that abundance with others."

Oprah Winfrey addresses Stanford University’s graduating class of 2008:

I say to you, forget about the fast lane. If you really want to fly, just harness your power to your passion. Honor your calling. Everybody has one. Trust your heart and success will come to you.

So, how do I define success? Let me tell you, money's pretty nice. I'm not going to stand up here and tell you that it's not about money, 'cause money is very nice. I like money. It's good for buying things. But having a lot of money does not automatically make you a successful person.

What you want is money and meaning. You want your work to be meaningful. Because meaning is what brings the real richness to your life. What you really want is to be surrounded by people you trust and treasure and by people who cherish you. That's when you're really rich. 

I know this—that whether you're an actor, you offer your talent in the way that most inspires art. If you're an anatomist, you look at your gift as knowledge and service to healing. Whether you've been called, as so many of you here today getting doctorates and other degrees, to the professions of business, law, engineering, humanities, science, medicine, if you choose to offer your skills and talent in service, when you choose the paradigm of service, looking at life through that paradigm, it turns everything you do from a job into a gift. And I know you haven't spent all this time at Stanford just to go out and get a job.

You've been enriched in countless ways. There's no better way to make your mark on the world and to share that abundance with others. My constant prayer for myself is to be used in service for the greater good.

Dr Lee Wei Ling, director of National Neuroscience Institute, Singapore, and daughter of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew:

I WAS born and bred in Singapore. This is my home, to which I am tied by family and friends. Yet many Singaporeans find me eccentric, though most are too polite to verbalise it. I only realised how eccentric I am when one friend pointed out to me why I could not use my own yardstick to judge others.

I dislike intensely the elitist attitude of some in our upper socio-economic class. I have been accused of reverse snobbery because I tend to avoid the wealthy who flaunt their wealth ostentatiously or do not help the less fortunate members of our society.

I treat all people I meet as equals, be it a truck driver friend or a patient and friend who belongs to the richest family in Singapore.

I appraise people not by their usefulness to me but by their character. I favour those with integrity, compassion and courage. I feel too many among us place inordinate emphasis on academic performance, job status, appearance and presentation.

Full article on AsiaOne website, here


Wharton marketing professor Jerry Wind and Colin Crook, former chief technology officer at Citibank, on the power of “impossible thinking”:

Impossible thinking. It is what put men on the moon, allowed Starbucks to turn a commodity product into a powerful global business and permitted Roger Bannister to run the four-minute mile.

While not every “impossible thought” can become a reality, very often the greatest obstacle to transforming our  organizations, society and personal lives is our own thinking.

This may seem to be a simple idea in theory – that what we see and act upon is more a product of what is inside our heads than out in the world – but it has far-reaching implications for how we approach life and decision-making. If you can think impossible thoughts, you can do impossible things.

Warren Buffett, on giving away the bulk of his fabulous fortune to charity:

Certainly neither Susie nor I ever thought we should pass huge amounts of money along to our children. Our kids are great. But I would argue that when your kids have all the advantages anyway in terms of how they grow up and the opportunities they have for education, including what they learn at home -- I would say it's neither right nor rational to be flooding them with money. 

Dynastic mega-wealth would further tilt the playing field that we ought to be trying instead to level.


Steve Jobs, who once was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, on following your heart:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

149jim rogers

Jim Rogers, who has 2 Guinness World Records for travelling around the world on a motorcycle and subsequently in a car, on following your passion:

Q: Given the successes that you’ve had - and continue to have - in your life, what advice do you have for keeping sharp mentally and for living the kind of life you want to live?

Jim Rogers: Follow your own passions.  Whatever they are, no matter how ludicrous they may be, follow your own passions.  People who follow their passions, don’t get up and go to work every day.  They can hardly wait to wake up, so they can have fun.  They’re truly excited about what they’re doing. They never go to work. 


Professor Randy Fausch, famed for his Last Lecture which he delivered after being given 3-6 more months to live. He had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer:

I think the only advice I can give you on how to live your life well is to offer a cliché: it’s not the things we do in life that we regret on our deathbed. It’s the things we do not.

Find your passion and follow it. And if there’s anything I have learnt in my life it is that you will not find that passion in things, and you will not find that passion in money. Because the more things and the more money that you have, the more you will look around and use that as a metric and there will always be someone with more.

Your passion must come from the things that fill you from the inside. That passion will be grounded in people and in relationships you have with people and what they think of you when your time comes.

And if you can gain the respect of those around you and  passion and true love. And I have said this before – I waited till 39 to get married because I had to wait that long to find someone whose happiness was more important than mine. And if nothing else I hope all of you can find that kind of passion and that kind of love in your life.

To view video of Prof Fausch's address in May 2008 to Carnegie Mellon University graduates, click here.

For his Last Lecture which, TIME magazine said in May 2008, has been viewed by more than 6 million people, click here

318buffett - imd4

Warren Buffett, on his definition of success:

There is a woman in Omaha, she is in her 80s, she is a Polish Jew.  She is a wonderful person, she is a friend of mine.  And when she was a young teen she was at Auschwitz with other members of the family, not all of whom came out. 

And she has told me "When I look at someone, I am slow to make friends because in the back of my mind the question always is 'Would they hide me?' ". 

Now, I would say this:  if you get to be 60 or 70, or my own age – 77 – and you have a lot of people who would hide you, you are a success.  And if you don't have anyone that would hide you, no matter how rich you are, no matter how many honorary degrees you have been given, no matter what hospitals are named after you – you are a failure. It is another way of saying "How many people love you?" basically.

And I have never seen anyone who has the love of dozens of people as they get older who is not a success, and who doesn't feel like a success. And I have seen a number of people who have all the trappings of success, by the world's measurements – who are rich, who have their names in the paper – and there isn't a person on earth that loves them.  And they can't be a success. So if you have lots of people that love you when you are 60 or 70, you are a very, very successful person.


Bill Gates, addressing Harvard University graduates on the world’s inequities:

My mother, who was filled with pride the day I was admitted here – never stopped pressing me to do more for others. A few days before my wedding, she hosted a bridal event, at which she read aloud a letter about marriage that she had written to Melinda. My mother was very ill with cancer at the time, but she saw one more opportunity to deliver her message, and at the close of the letter she said: “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

When you consider what those of us here have been given – in talent, privilege, and opportunity – there is almost no limit to what the world has a right to expect from us. In line with the promise of this age, I want to exhort each of the graduates here to take on an issue – a complex problem, a deep inequity, and become a specialist on it. If you make it the focus of your career, that would be phenomenal. But you don’t have to do that to make an impact. For a few hours every week, you can use the growing power of the Internet to get informed, find others with the same interests, see the barriers, and find ways to cut through them.

Be activists. Take on the big inequities. It will be one of the great experiences of your lives.

350williamtanPhoto by Leong Chan Teik

Dr William Tan, on completing 10 marathons in 7 continents in 65 days in a wheelchair:

I was always exhausted but I had no choice but to constantly focus on the road ahead. There had been a series of setbacks but I wanted to push the limits and redefine human possibilities. Of course, we should all appreciate our limitations. It is when we do that we can begin to dream of going beyond those limitations.

Physical disability is visible but there are those who are limited by disabilities which are not visible – in the mind and spirit. I believe that the human spirit is indomitable. When we see problems as challenges and obstacles as stepping stones, the positive mindset drives us towards success. Believe in yourself and your dreams!


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