Best, worst decisions in business

Where are the great minds and best decisions in business — and what have been the great failures? Here are some answers and, perhaps, some lessons for the rest of us.

What do Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, Oprah Winfrey and Ross Perot have in common? According to the “Great Minds in Business” feature section at Entrepreneur.com, they are among many visionary entrepreneurs. The site has biographical sketches of dozens of such visionaries, including Steve Jobs, hip-hop promoter Russell Simmons, and McDonald’s Corp. founder Ray Kroc, who is quoted as saying, “The definition of salesmanship is the gentle art of letting the customer have it your way.” tinyurl.com/GreatMindsBiz

Getting book recommendations from financial advisers might not sound so exciting. But for getting a sense of how professional money managers think, this article at Reuters is revealing. The summer reading picks include Warren Buffett’s “Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders.” It is recommended by Rob Schein, managing director and partner at HighTower in Palm Desert, Calif., who compared reading the collection of Buffett’s famous letters to “getting an MBA for $20.” Another listed pick is “Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street from Wall Street and Wall Street from Itself,” by the former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Sheila Bair. tinyurl.com/FinancialSummerReads

If you were to list “the greatest business decisions of all time,” you might have the makings of a book. That’s just what author Verne Harnish thought, and a few of his picks are listed in an article at Forbes.com. Harnish’s top pick, according to this post: “Henry Ford’s decision to double the wages of his workers enabled him to attract the talent he needed, and helped insure a class of worker who could afford the very products they were building.” tinyurl.com/GreatBizDecisions

What books should young leaders or would-be leaders read? According to the Harvard Business Review, the list should include “The Emperor’s Handbook” by an emperor, Marcus Aurelius; Stephen Covey’s insightful “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People”; and nine other volumes. “At the very least,” says blogger John Coleman, “reading broadly can make you a more interesting conversationalist.” tinyurl.com/11BooksforLeaders

What are some of the worst business decisions of all time? The website 247wallst.com compiled a list last year, including Eastman Kodak’s decision to focus on film photography after developing a digital camera in 1975, and Firestone’s decision to blame tire failures on substandard maintenance by consumers in the 1970s. tinyurl.com/WorstBizDecisions

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