What It Takes

By: Stephen Schwarzman

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What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence by Stephen Schwarzman is a remarkable journey through the life and mind of one of the most successful businessmen and philanthropists. Schwarzman, co-founder and CEO of Blackstone, one of the world's largest investment firms, unpacks the moments, decisions, and principles that have shaped his career and life. His stories aren't just a parade of triumphs; they also reveal setbacks and failures that provide deep insights into the nature of ambition, leadership, and resilience. The book is less a memoir and more a treasure trove of wisdom, gleaned from decades at the pinnacle of power and success.

How Starting Small Leads to Big Things


Schwarzman doesn't advocate for immediate large-scale successes; instead, he champions starting small. He illustrates that the most colossal successes often have humble beginnings, emphasizing that what matters isn't where you start but your diligence and vision. Schwarzman's own journey began with relatively small deals, which, coupled with his relentless work and strategic thinking, laid the foundation for what would become a financial empire.

Imagine a single acorn, seemingly inconsequential amidst the vast wilderness. Yet, under the right conditions – with enough sunlight, water, and nutrients from the soil – it has the potential to grow into a mighty oak. Schwarzman's early career, much like the acorn, was nurtured with perseverance, strategic partnerships, and an unyielding belief in his vision, eventually leading him to towering achievements reminiscent of the oak's grandeur.

Reflect on your beginnings, whether they're in your career, personal projects, or even relationships. Have you dismissed something because it's "just a small start"? Remember, the grandest structures were built brick by brick. Schwarzman's wisdom urges us to value our small starts, as they often lead to monumental destinations. Embrace them, n...

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