Jim Collins

An Inspirational and Thought-Provoking Baker’s Dozen from Jim Collins

Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.” ~ Jim Collins

We’re headed back to Atlanta in May for the Scaling Up Conference in a week, which reminds me of one of my all-time favorite speakers from this conference, business guru, best-selling author and internationally recognized speaker, Jim Collins.

I’ve seen Collins twice. He also recently released his latest monograph, “Turning the Flywheel” which uses Amazon’s flywheel as a great practical model for business growth, and I was inspired to dig out some of my favorite Collins’ quotes and questions from that talk, almost a decade ago.

Most of these come from “Great by Choice” but I’d also encourage you to check out his lesser known How the Mighty Fall and Why Some Companies Never Give In”, written shortly after the recession with powerful lessons about success, failure and the power of humility in business.

I hope that they inspire you to Greatness! (And let me know your favorite…)


A Baker’s Dozen from Jim Collins

The MOST important executive skill is the ability to pick the right people, put them in the right seats and hang on to them. Growth is predicted upon the organization’s ability to get enough people to execute on that growth with excellence.


    1. The “X Factor” of great leadership is humility combined with ferocious will and determination.
    2. What is your “20 Mile” march, your benchmark of success that is set every year that everyone needs to meet to move your business or team ahead?
    3. The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive. It’s what you do before the storm that matters.
    4. What decisions will you make today to ensure that you will hit your marks next year? And the next year? And do you understand why you do those specific things and under what conditions they would no longer work?
    5. Creativity is our natural state as human beings. Discipline is not.
    6. The signature of mediocrity is “chronic” inconsistency.
    7. How long could you go without any revenue?
    8. What guerrilla are you currently ignoring that could kill your company?
    9. Remember: accumulated momentum can carry an enterprise forward for a while, even if its leaders make poor decisions or lose discipline.
    10. “WHO” luck is the most important kind of luck.
    11. What’s your distinctive impact? If your company disappeared, who would miss you and why?
    12. If you, as the CEO, have to be there…it’s not a Great Company.



As an added bonus, because I love the discipline and perseverance of Collins’ 20-Mile March, from his book “Great By Choice”…

Take 4 minutes to watch the video below and learn more.

(And if you’d like to get going on your own 20 Mile “Scaling Up” March reach out and let us know. We’d love to help!)

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