The Best Louis Gerstner quotes

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Louis Gerstner, Jr. is a prime example of an entrepreneurial success story. He is the former CEO of IBM, who helped turn the computer giant around in the 1990s. His unique brand of leadership and business acumen transformed IBM into one of the most successful companies in the world. In this blog post, we will explore Gerstner’s life and career, and learn what made him such a successful entrepreneur.

Here are the best quotes from Louis Gerstner, and much more.


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About Louis Gerstner

birth of the author

March 1, 1942

education of the author

Dartmouth College

occupation of the author

Former Chairman And Ceo, Rjr Nabisco

knownfor of the author

Known For:
Leading Ibm’s Historic Corporate Turnaround In The 1990S

money of the author

Net Worth:
900 Million

website of the author


Inspiring Phrases From Louis Gerstner

In the end an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value. โ€” Lou Gerstner

I just think we should look at this as a chess match,’ he said, ‘between the world’s greatest chess player and Garry Kasparov. โ€” Lou Gerstner

You know, you don’t need a leader to sort of administer something that’s going very well. In fact, in one sense, an overly ambitious person in that circumstance can probably screw it up. โ€” Louis V. Gerstner

If life was so easy that you could just go buy success, there would be a lot more successful companies in the world. Successful enterprises are built from the ground up. โ€” Lou Gerstner

The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision. โ€” Lou Gerstner

We built this company from the customer back, not from the company out. โ€” Lou Gerstner

We do not need Departments of Commerce, Labor, and Education; we need a single Department of Skills that will promote an integrated approach to global competitiveness. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Various Statements From Louis Gerstner

I’m leery of legislative solutions to what is morality. โ€” Lou Gerstner

You can never be comfortable with your success, you’ve got to be paranoid you’re going to lose it. โ€” Lou Gerstner

I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game; it is the game. โ€” Lou Gerstner

The rewards system is a powerful driver of behavior and therefore culture. โ€” Lou Gerstner

No institution will go through fundamental change unless it believes it is in deep trouble and needs to do something different to survive. โ€” Lou Gerstner

When I arrived at IBM, there were ‘Team’ signs all around. I asked, ‘How do people get paid?’ They told me, ‘We pay people based on individual performance.’ โ€” Louis V. Gerstner

Lou Gerstner knows how to do a deal, and George Bush Sr., less so. โ€” Lou Gerstner

More Phrases From Louis Gerstner

Watch the turtle. He only moves forward by sticking his neck out. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Everything starts with the customer. โ€” Lou Gerstner

I want to take IBM back to its roots. โ€” Lou Gerstner

The next thing is: we can make IBM even better. We brought IBM back but we’re gunning for leadership. โ€” Lou Gerstner

The Internet is ultimately about innovation and integration, but you don’t get the innovation unless you integrate Web technology into the processes by which you run your business. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Never confuse activity with results. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Fixing culture is the most critical โˆ’ and the most di๏ฌƒcult โˆ’ part of a corporate transformationโ€ฆ In the end, management doesn’t change culture. Management invites the workforce itself to change the culture. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Deeper Quotes From Louis Gerstner

Visit and you’ll find thousands of directorates, agencies, boards, offices, and services replete with overlapping responsibilities, ancient priorities, and divided accountability. โ€” Lou Gerstner

My parents worked enormously hard to put four children through college. We didn’t have a lot of money. โ€” Lou Gerstner

The real mechanism for corporate governance is the active involvement of the owners. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams, but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love, and understanding. โ€” Lou Gerstner

You don’t get points for predicting rain. You get points for building arks. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Redundant Thematics

In Louis Gerstner Statements


Customer complaints are the schoolbooks from which we learn. โ€” Lou Gerstner

People don’t do what you expect but what you inspect. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Amazing Thoughts From Louis Gerstner

I have always believed you cannot run a successful enterprise from behind a desk. โ€” Lou Gerstner

What I’m trying to do is deliver results, not promises; results, not vision; results, not concepts. The world is cynical about IBM’s promises. โ€” Lou Gerstner

I think that my leadership style is to get people to fear staying in place, to fear not changing. โ€” Lou Gerstner

The thing I have learned at IBM is that culture is everything. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Our military should be trained and structured around missions, not the elements of air, water, and land. โ€” Lou Gerstner

I firmly believe that IBM’s size can be used to its advantage. โ€” Lou Gerstner

This really is a merger of equals. I wouldn’t have come back to work for anything less than this fantastic opportunity. This lets me combine my two great lovesโ€“technology and biscuits. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Some Interesting Quotes From Louis Gerstner

A lot of people saved IBM. Yes, I was the leader of that team but I could never have done it without a group of IBMers helping me. โ€” Lou Gerstner

When a manufacturing company in Spain looks to IBM for a solution to a problem, they expect us to bring the best of IBM worldwide to it, not just the experience of IBM Spain. โ€” Lou Gerstner

The value that some analysts put on revenue vs. what they put on profit is out of whack. If you can grow real cash earnings, that’s 80% of what you ought to do, and the revenue component is 20%. โ€” Louis V. Gerstner

Successful enterprises are built from the ground up. You can’t assemble them with a bunch of acquisitions. โ€” Louis V. Gerstner

Technology has limitations on what it can accomplish. You do not. โ€” Lou Gerstner

Whether the task is fixing health care, upgrading Kโ€“12 education, bolstering national security, or a host of other missions, the U.S. is better at patching problems than fixing them. โ€” Louis V. Gerstner

I look for people who work to solve problems and help colleagues, I sack politicians. โ€” Lou Gerstner


Louis Gerstnerโ€™s words of wisdom can be applied to many different aspects of our lives, including business. In the digital age, his insights are just as relevant now as they were when he first uttered them. If youโ€™re looking for a little inspiration or motivation, we suggest reading through some of these quotes again. And if you want to learn more about how to put these principles into practice, check out our courses. We have plenty of material that can help you turn your business around and start seeing success.

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