Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Thomas J. Watson, Jr., fully Thomas John Watson, Jr.

American Businessman, Political Figure and Philanthropist, 2nd President of IBM, National President of the Boy Scouts of American, United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union

"Whenever an individual or a business decides that success has been attained, progress stops."

"Design must reflect the practical and aesthetic in business but above all... good design must primarily serve people."

"As I associated with more and more different types, I realized that to make it, you had to get along with almost everybody. If you dislike the people you work with, you’d better not show it. I learned that to be a good leader, I had to strike a delicate balance."

"Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost."

"Machines might give us more time to think but will never do our thinking for us."

"It is essential for each of us to strive to retain originality and to maintain our identity as human beings."

"Every time we've moved ahead in IBM, it was because someone was willing to take a chance, put his head on the block, and try something new."

"Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself."

"Real character emerges in the way we meet our routine, everyday obligations."

"Once an organization loses its spirit of pioneering and rests on its early work, its progress stops."

"The great accomplishments of man have resulted from the transmission of ideas and enthusiasm."

"The little things we do - or fail to do - often testify louder than the loudest statements of our intentions."

"The secret I learned early on from my father was to run scared and never think I had it made. I never felt I was completely adequate to the job and always ran scared. The fundamental for our success was running scared."

"The way to succeed is to double your error rate."

"Really big people are, above everything else, courteous, considerate and generous - not just to some people in some circumstances - but to everyone all the time."

"We hear of a silent generation, more concerned with security than integrity, with conforming than performing, with imitating than creating."

"The pursuit of perfection means not just enthusiasm for doing a topnotch job in important things, it means attention to detail and an itch to innovate and improve in whatever we have to do. It means to be dissatisfied with the status quo."

"We should have the courage to take risks when they are thoughtful risks. We must try to make clear, sound, aggressive decisions, not waiting until every possible base has been touched."

"The toughest thing about the power of trust is that it's very difficult to build and very easy to destroy. The essence of trust building is to emphasize the similarities between you and the customer."