Good CEOs make more money, grow their businesses, cut costs, and keep their shareholders happy. The best CEOs, on the other hand, go above and beyond what is expected of them as business leaders by giving wise advice to their employees, investors, customers, and anyone else who might be listening.
For giants like Warren Buffett and Mary Barra, their words are just as much a part of their legacies as their innovations and successes at boosting corporate bottom lines. Their quotes are on the walls of small-business break rooms and on the dry-erase boards of people who want to start their own businesses. Their words of wisdom are shared from mentors to mentees in college business classes.
When the richest people in the world talk about money, investing, careers, and wealth, it makes sense to listen. Even if you don’t want to run a company like Berkshire Hathaway or GM, you might still learn a thing or two that you can use in your own 401(k), household budget, and life.
Best 10 CEOs Money Advice
Jeff Bezos: Amazon
The best lesson Jeff Bezos learned was not from what he said, but from what he did. There are a lot of articles about how to save money by making your own coffee and cooking your own food. However, big-ticket items like a car are a much better way to save money than Starbucks.
Bezos kept driving the same 1987 Chevy Blazer he had when Amazon only had 10 employees until he was 12 times a billionaire. Even so, he only got a Honda Accord in exchange. His then-wife, MacKenzie Scott, drove him to work and dropped off their kids at school until 2013.
Berkshire Hathaway, says Warren Buffett
Since the 1980s, when Bezos was a normal 20-something working as an executive at hedge funds and investment banks, Warren Buffett has given him money advice that sounds like it came from Yoda.
Buffett used to say that you should never put money into something you don’t understand. Then there was the advice to live within your means, buy index funds instead of picking stocks, and invest in companies you believe in and keep them forever. Still, the best advice was to pay yourself first. But Buffett said it better, as he often does: “Don’t save what is left over after spending. “Save what you can and spend the rest.”
General Motors, says Mary Barra,
Mary Barra is more than just the first woman to run a big car company as CEO. She is right up there with Warren Buffett as one of the most often-quoted business leaders in the United States. At a convention in 2012, she said, “If you have a problem, you have to solve it. Because in six months, that problem will be worse. In two years, it might be bigger. But it won’t get smaller as time goes on.”
She was talking about the auto bailout, but as is often the case with Barra’s famously witty comments, her words could be used in all kinds of everyday situations. For you, it could be a metaphor for facing up to your credit card debt, leaving a job that’s not going anywhere, or ending a bad financial relationship.
Apple CEO Tim Cook:
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, told the graduates at the University of Glasgow in Scotland in 2017 that they should never work for a paycheck. He told them, “My advice to you all is not to work for money. It will wear out quickly, or you’ll never make enough, and you’ll never be happy.”
People were quick to tell CNBC that Cook’s advice, while philosophically sound, is hard to follow when you have to buy diapers and pay your bills. Also, they said that Cook sells iPhones instead of making them as a hobby and giving them away as a good deed.
Richard Branson: Virgin
Richard Branson and Elon Musk are the closest people on Earth to Tony Stark. Branson is known for being persistent, but you don’t have to be a billionaire adventurer or even a knight to benefit from being persistent. Be like Branson and keep at it, even if it’s hard for you to save money every month, see the value of your investments drop, or even just learn the basics of how to handle money.
He once wrote, “On every adventure I’ve been on, whether it was starting a business, flying around the world in a balloon, or racing across the ocean in a boat, there have been times when it would have been easy to give up.”
Elon Musk: SpaceX and Tesla
Elon Musk has a stake in the game both on Earth and in space, just like Richard Branson. However, Branson, like Jeff Bezos, has actually been to space. Musk, who is one of the most innovative and risk-taking businesspeople in history, says that both humans and E.T.s should choose a goal that is worth reaching.
He told the Chicago Tribune, “Don’t just say that your goal is to “make a lot of money” or “get promoted to X.” Have a goal that is both attractive and important. Find a way to improve things or do something important.”
Best Buy: Corie Barry
In 2019, Corie Barry became the first woman to run Best Buy as CEO. If other girls and women want to be as successful as she is, she tells them to get used to being outside of their comfort zones.
She told CNBC, “That’s why I start with making you uncomfortable. Somewhere in here, you’re going to have to be willing to put yourself in a space you don’t feel ready to fill, and then use all the resources around you to help you succeed.”
Even though her advice is geared toward women, anyone who is stuck in a financial rut or a dead-end job could use it.
Satya Nadella: Microsoft
Business Today says that Satya Nadella is a big believer in coming up with new strategies for each new project rather than repackaging what worked yesterday and hoping for the same results.
He said, “If you want to move forward, you have to keep that learning mindset. It’s not a matter of fate.”
This teaches us two things. The first is a warning against resting on your laurels: if you’re looking at your awards in the rearview mirror, you’re going to crash the car. The second is to not make the mistake of trying to use what you’ve learned from past battles in future ones. That could mean taking a second look at a resume that hasn’t been updated in a while, a 401(k) that isn’t being used, a car insurance policy that is probably more expensive than it needs to be, or anything else.
Sundar Pichai: Alphabet
Alphabet boss Sundar Pichai isn’t recommending you drop out of school the way he dropped out of Stanford. But he does say that you should make decisions about your education, career, and money based on what’s best for you and only you.
He told Inc., “If I had finished graduate school, I would probably have a Ph.D. today, which would have made my parents very proud.” But I might have missed the chance to show so many people how technology can help them. And I wouldn’t be here talking to you as the CEO of Google.”
Indra Nooyi: PepsiCo (Retired) (Retired)
Many people who know about money don’t think that you can save your way to wealth. Instead, they think that the only way to get rich is to make more money.
Whether you’re just starting out in the job market, starting a new job, or changing careers later in life and starting at the bottom of the totem pole, it’s natural to start out slowly, keep your head down, and try not to stand out until you’re up to speed.
Indra Nooyi, who ran Pepsi for a long time and retired in 2019 as its chair and CEO, wants you to do the exact opposite.
She told Forbes, “Take on the hardest projects for free early in your career.” Don’t settle for a comfortable 9-to-5 job. When you walk into a company for the first time, people should know you’re there.”