As a business student, you’ve doubtless hard the name James Dimon, though he more commonly goes as Jamie. Dimon is famous for his strong leadership, spot-on instincts, motivational style and keen business acumen. As chairman, president and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in United States, Dimon has had the opportunity to influence both the economy and the business world.
Dimon has been headhunted to serve in Donald Trump’s Cabinet (he declined), and has advised some of the top business leaders in America and across the globe. While you might agree or disagree with his policies and practices, the indisputable fact is that Dimon knows how to succeed in business, and as such is an invaluable source of wisdom for business students or new graduates just emerging into the world of commerce.
While these lessons are practically innumerable, here are 12 of the most salient. Read, and learn.
Institute a Culture of Leadership
As leader of the biggest lending institution in America, it’s no surprise that Jamie Dimon has earned renown as an excellent leader. In fact, he has spoken about it many times, and even written a piece entitled “What Makes a Good Leader?” on the Chase website. In this article, he discusses many of the traits necessary to imbue a workplace with strong leadership, stating, “In a great company, you need to institutionalize and perpetuate a great culture and excellent leaders. To do this, you must do several things well, including the training, the retention of talent and the creation of a company that is continually learning.”
Dimon is also famous for his emphasis on brevity. Meetings at JPMorgan Chase have a strict no-chitchat policy so that all time spent can be spent on itinerary items. Another policy states that all attendees to the meeting must have read the pre-meeting materials. Dimon’s emphasis on brevity extends to interactions with employees and business associates as well; economy of words preserves everyone’s time and allows it to be spent on what really matters.
Never Be Too Sure
One of Jamie Dimon’s most famous quotes is, “No one can forecast the economy with certainty.” This is an important tenet for anyone entering business, because with certainty comes arrogance and sloppiness. While it’s fair to make plans based on the most likely future scenarios, you must always have plans in place for disaster or simply different circumstances.
Prioritize Play Time
It may surprise you to know that one of the most successful people in the world thinks play time is important. Although JPMorgan Chase does require many of their junior employees to put in a lot of weekend time, more established workers adhere to a strict no-weekends policy, helping ensure they get the time off they need to recharge and be fully present when they are at work.
Discipline When Necessary
Discipline is a pillar of leadership, which we discussed above. Unfortunately, while unpleasant, discipline is not always avoidable. To err is human, and while it might be divine to forgive, no company can run efficiently if slipups go unremarked upon. Instead, Dimon advocates a strong position of leadership through correcting missteps immediately and with appropriate consequences.
As pointed out by eFinacialcareers, mediocrity is to be avoided at all costs. One of Dimon’s highest philosophies, they report, is, “You shall not work with a marginal client.” Doing so not only fails to help your bottom line, it may actively compromise it by bringing down the overall quality or your business or investments. If you notice that a partner, a client, a customer or another person or institution with whom you work is categorically failing to add to your business, it is your responsibility to do something about it, and quickly.
Maintain the Highest Standards
It’s only natural to occasionally do a “good enough” rather than an excellent job. Fatigue, chronic busyness or plain old disinterest are normal human fallibilities, but be careful: If you fail to uphold these standards even once, you may fall into the trap of doing so often, which will work against your business and success overall.
Explain Less, Work More
Founder and chairman of 1-800-Flowers, Jim McCann, credits Jamie Dimon hugely in the formation and success of his business. One of Dimon’s chief beliefs is that the people working underneath you do not need to understand the big picture. Many of them are incapable of having the “view from above” that an executive holds, and takin the time to try and get them to see it is a waste of their energy and resources. Instead, give people enough information to do their jobs well, but spend no time “evangelizing” about the big picture.
Know That It’s Not a Competition
Another of Jamie Dimon’s best-known philosophies, as cheesy as it sounds, is the importance of working together. As he says in this quote, “It’s good for America when the rest of the world grows, because you can sell more to the rest of the world.” Too much of commerce is founded on competition, and while standing out in the marketplace does require some aggression and boldness, many a successful endeavor has been forged in the fires of partnership and mutual effort.
Nothing is more important than taking responsibility for your own actions. Without this crucial skill, you will quickly lose the trust and respect of those around you. While owning your faults and mistakes can admittedly be distasteful, losing buy-in or failing to meet a business objective because you were unable to take responsibility is definitely worse. However, keep in mind that it’s important to take responsibility for your wins too. While crediting a team or an entire company is a good way to bond, you should never dismiss your own achievements, either internally or to others.
Loyalty is key in business. If you are in a management position and hire others, you need the loyalty of your team in order to accomplish your own objectives and impress the people to whom you report. If you’re running a startup or small business of your own, loyalty arguably becomes even more important, because turnover can be so disastrous in these situations. One of the best ways to encourage loyalty is to reward it, perhaps by giving regular raises and promotions, by offering monthly incentives to perform well, or just by offering praise.
Be Open to Change
Humans find change threatening … even when it’s good change. The term “eustress” refers to the feeling of positive stress that accompanies situations or scenarios that are outside our normal comfort zone or encompass serious change. While this kind of stress may not necessarily be pleasant (although it can be), it almost always signals an upward trajectory. However, if you aren’t open to change, you have little chance to experience this and make your life better.
Following Dimon’s tenets to the letter do not, of course, guarantee success. However, if you begin to institute these mindsets – even when you’re still in school – you will likely see a measurable increase in your success, productivity and relationships, as well as the respect you earn from others.