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15 leadership quotes to inspire you in the New Year

Last updated on: January 3, 2013 12:27 IST

Image: Bill Gates scored 1590 out of 1600 on his SATs
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg met Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the latter had said: Focus on building the right team for a "high quality" company. Here, we bring you similar words of wisdom that we hope will inspire you to succeed in life.

Success, we all know, is a relative term and means differently to most of us.

Today, most of us may be struggling in our lives and careers at different stages and looking for words of inspiration to hold on to.

We've handpicked a few personalities from different walks of life and shared their ideas on success, change and inspiration that we think will help you perceive your own lives differently and for the better.

Read on to know what these people have to say about their failures, successes and achievements...

Bill Gates

From a young guy who had a passion for computer programming at the age of 13, to founding one of the world's largest software business, Microsoft, Bill Gates' story of success is an inspiration to many.

The entrepreneur once said: "It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure."

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Ratan Tata

Image: Ratan Tata pursued Advanced Management Programme from the Harvard Business School in 1975
Photographs: Reuters

The great grandson of Tata empire, joined the family business after refusing a job with IBM back in New York.

The man who took the Tata conglomerate to new heights under his reign said: "I don't believe in taking right decisions. I take decisions and then make them right."

Recently, on turning 75, he retired from his position as the Chairman to let a young Cyrus Mistry take over.

Indira Gandhi

Image: Indira Gandhi sought inspiration from her grandfather Motilal Nehru
Photographs: Nyttend/Wikimedia Commons

When Indira Gandhi came to power in 1966, she was India's first woman Prime Minister.

Four and a half decades have passed by and she continues holds the record for the longest serving female Prime Minister of the country.

The woman with the grit of steel epitomises courage and leadership.

Speaking of her grandfather, Motilal Nehru, she'd said: "My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be in the first group. There is much less competition."

N R Narayana Murthy

Image: N R Narayana Murthy was 35 when he started Infosys in 1981
Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/

When his first start-up Softronics failed, N R Narayana Murthy took up a job only to chase his entrepreneurial dream yet again with Infosys in 1981.

Since then, there has been no looking back.

Reflecting on his journey, Murthy had said:

"Don't be cynical. Cynicism takes away enthusiasm and builds a negative mindset. Move from apathy to action.

To finish first, you must first finish. Move from rhetoric to action.

Leadership is an action, not a word. Build a climate of honesty, hard work and excellence.

Build a social conscience and benchmark yourself with the best in the world. Be honest and true to the profession and act fearlessly.

Always seek the truth. Learn from the advances abroad. Think how you can support institutions that have helped you reach where you are -- your school."

APJ Abdul Kalam

Image: Abdul Kalam used to get average grades in his school, but mathematics was his favourite subject
Photographs: Paresh Gandhi/

APJ Adul Kalam is one of the most popular and adored personalities in India today.

The former president of India who is also an aerospace engineer envisions to drive the youth and make India a developed nation by 2020.

The Bharat Ratna awardee who often advises youngsters to realise the importance of knowledge and cognition said:

"Thinking should become your capital asset, no matter whatever ups and downs you come across in your life.

Thinking is progress. Non-thinking is stagnation of the individual, organisation and the country. Thinking leads to action. Knowledge without action is useless and irrelevant. Knowledge with action converts adversity into prosperity."

Chetan Bhagat

Image: Chetan Bhagat is the bestselling author of five books
Photographs: Reuben NV/

Born into a middle class family, Chetan Bhagat's rise to fame as the bestselling author inspires youngsters across the country.

Here's what the youth icon wrote about quality of life:

"Life is not to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here.

We are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years.

And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends.

Do we really need to get so worked up? It's okay, bunk a few classes, goof up a few interviews, fall in love.

We are people, not programmed devices."

Mary Kom

Image: Mary Kom
Photographs: Uttam Ghosh/

Mary Kom was the only Indian woman boxer to have qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics and she did not waste the opportunity.

The bronze medal winner who failed in her class 10 examinations took to boxing and gave it her best.

After winning the Olympic medal, here's what the champion said:

"If I, being a mother of two, can win a medal, so can you all. Take me as an example and don't give up."

Tags: Mary Kom

Mark Zuckerberg

Image: Mark Zuckerberg launched in February 2004
Photographs: Brian Snyder/Reuters

With one billion active users, Facebook's is a lgendary success story and part of the credit goes to Mark Zuckerberg who envisioned the prospects of social networking and invested in it early on.

The reticent CEO who became a billionaire at the age of 23, says:

"There are people who are really good managers, people who can manage a big organisation, and then there are people who are very analytic or focused on strategy.

Those two types don't usually tend to be in the same person. I would put myself much more in the latter camp."

Steve Jobs

Image: Steve Jobs was a visionary and believed in the innovation game
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Among the many roles Steve Jobs juggled with, his efforts to revive Apple from near bankruptcy to profitability is the most noteworthy.

The college dropout who discontinued his education due to financial issues went on to be addressed as the 'Father of digital revolution'.

The visionary entrepreneur was quoted saying this in The Wall Street Journal:

"Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me... Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful... that's what matters to me."

Walter Disney

Image: Walter Disney won honorary degrees from several universities such as Yale, Harvard and UCLA
Photographs: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

The Walt Disney Company is what it is today, because it had a prolific leader at its helm when it was born.

Walter Disney was a well known film producer, director, screenwriter, animator, entrepreneur and entertainer.

But very few of us know that the multitalented Disney had dropped out of high school at 16 and was denied a job in the army because he was underage.

The Disney co-founder had said:

"All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles has strengthened me... You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."

Barack Obama

Image: Barack Obama addresses the 2012 graduating class at Barnard College, New York
Photographs: Larry Downing/Reuters

The first African American to hold the office at the White House, Barack Obama has moved from strength to strength in his political career.

In his commencement address at Knox College in June 2005, this is what the American President had said:

"Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself.

Because it's only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realise your true potential."

Julian Assange

Image: Julian Assange has authored two books on hacking and media censorship
Photographs: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The WikiLeaks founder is also the man who holds the secret to some of the most sensational breaking news in the world.

The Australian editor and publisher who's quite vocal about his views on freedom of the press and media censorship said:

"We all only live once. So we are obligated to make good use of the time that we have and to do something that is meaningful and satisfying."

Richard Branson

Image: Richard Branson waves a model of the LauncherOne cargo spacecraft from a window of an actual size model of SpaceShipTwo on display
Photographs: Luke MacGregor/Reuters

Entrepreneur Richard Branson who started his first business -- a magazine called Student at the age of 16 has since been an inspiration to many.

The multibillionaire and owner of Virgin Records prefers not to live by the book.

In one of his interviews to The Guardian newspaper on September 20, 2008, Branson said:

"My general attitude to life is to enjoy every minute of every day. I never do anything with a feeling of, 'Oh God, I've got to do this today.'"

Bob Dylan

Image: In his 10th grade, Bob Dylan Dylan and his back-up band were rejected from a high school talent show
Photographs: Reuters

At the age of 19, the American singer-songwriter dropped out of college and moved to New York to chase his creative pursuits.

In 1961, at the age of 20, Dylan signed his first recording contract and since then has never had to look back.

In one of his popular numbers Brownswille Girl, the artist has a word of advice for youngsters:

"People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent."

Oprah Winfrey

Image: Oprah Winfrey poses for pictures in front of the historic Taj Mahal during her visit to Agra
Photographs: Brijesh Singh/Reuters

For someone who was raped at the age of nine and pregnant at 14, it takes a lot more than courage to make it this far.

Oprah Winfrey's journey to the top is garnished with stories of struggles, determination and courage.

The popular talk show host who indulges in several philanthropic causes and inspires many through her talks, in her commencement speech at the Howard University on May 12, 2007, said:

"What other people label or might try to call failure, I have learned is just God's way of pointing you in a new direction."