Seymour Schulich on Deals, Business, Decisions and Life
Seymour Schulich, one of Canada's most successful businessmen and author of Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons offers some indispensable business wisdom.
- Business is a means to an end not an end in itself. Nobody on his or her deathbed says, “I wish I had spent more time in the office.”
- Never quit a job unless you have another job. My father taught me this great truth. You are perceived as more valuable if you are working than if you're unemployed. You may feel staying employed doesn't give you the time or latitude to seek a better job. This is a dangerous delusion—don't succumb to it.
- Always ask the question “If this decision is wrong, is it going to be painful or fatal?” Company builders and business leaders keep away from “bet the company” investments.
- Keep away from advisors/consultants. If they knew how to make money, they would. These folks are like the fellow who knows a thousand ways to make love but doesn't know any women.
- The best test of a deal's true attraction is to ask your partners, employees, directors, family, and so on, “Would you put your own money in this deal?” It's amazing how often the answer to this question is, “No! This is good for the company, but I'll take a pass.” These deals are invariably losers.
- Always have at least two people from your side present at any negotiating or deal-making sessions. This gives you time to think, plus an ally with whom to compare perceptions.
- Never confront or threaten people or institutions who have more power than you. Examples: police, customs agents, the sec, Ontario Securities Commission, tax agents of the government, or politicians.
- In dealing with the media, never forget to qualify your statements with “not for attribution” and “off the record” where appropriate. Journalists value their contacts and will usually respect a source's desires.
- In negotiations, always try to get the other party to name its asking price. It may often be far lower than your maximum offer. If the other party won't name a price, start very low. You can always go up.
- Almost everything in life is easier to get into than get out of.
- Never bid against yourself. Only raise your bid to top a real counter bid, not an imaginary one.