- Learn to analyze well: Assess risks and prospective awards because there is no substitute for good research.
- Leadership is the quality that transforms good intentions into positive action; it turns a group of individuals into a team.
- Be a team player.
- Be patient. Don’t forget the old adage, “Patience is a great virtue.” Pickens has noted how it was much harder to follow his own advice in this regard earlier in his career.
- Be realistic. Dream, yes, but don’t be a daydreamer.
- Concentrate on the goals, not on the size of the organization. You can’t measure a place by size unless it’s a football stadium.
- Forget about age, which means giving young people a chance.
- Keep things informal. Talking is a natural way to do business. Writing is great for keeping records and pinning down details but talk generates ideas.
- Make sure as many people as possible have a stake in the game.
- Learn from mistakes. That’s not just a cliche. “It’s all right to get your fingers crushed in the door, but don’t let the same door crush them twice.”
- Stay fit. No one wants to get old and feel bad! Physical fitness is an essential part of the best-run companies, for it has economic as well as spiritual and psychological benefits.
- Practice moderation. Balance family life and work. The key is organization — there’s plenty of time for play, but plan it.
- If you’re organized, you’ll find time for everything. Take as big a bite of the apple as you want — that’s what’s great about America.
- Keep success as well as failure in perspective and, most importantly, always play by the rules: Never think you have to cheat to win; there’s no need to bend your principles. As in sports, cheating to win is a hollow victory, at best. But most of all, you won’t feel good about yourself.
- Whenever he hears talk about an ethics crisis in America, Pickens scoffs. “We don’t have an ethics crisis — if anything, it’s a leadership crisis,” he says. “It all goes back to the top. Leaders must lead by example.”
- Enjoy what you do. Word hard. Move quickly. Laugh a lot. If there is a screw-up, it’s a team screw-up.