Andy Grove’s “random walk” to greatness

In the Introduction he wrote for Secrets of Greatness: Advice from the World’s Top CEOs and Entrepreneurs, Andy Grove explains that his development as a manager occurred by a process “often called a random walk. Random walk is a mathematical term, often illustrated by the description of an inebriated person walking in the forest, bumping into a tree and setting out again until the next bump. I became a manager bump to bump. Sometimes the bump was so strong I staggered afterwards, but each time my stride got more confident and my direction more steady.”

Grove is as candid and insightful in the Introduction as he is in his two business classics, Swimming Across and Only the Paranoid Survive. Again, from the Introduction: “I learned from many small knocks on the head that there is a very simple tool to move faster, to increase productivity. It has to do with the things you decide not to do. The most important two letters that increase your productivity as well as the productivity of the people you work with are N-O, said clearly, unequivocally and early – not after someone has decided to count on you.”

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Andrew Stephen Grove (born András István Gróf; 2 September 1936 – 21 March 2016) was a Hungarian-born American businessman, engineer, author and a pioneer in the semiconductor industry. He escaped from Communist-controlled Hungary at the age of 20 and moved to the United States where he finished his education, earning a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. He was one of the founders and the CEO of Intel, helping transform the company into the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors.

To learn more about him, his life and his work, please click here.




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