Many of you may know that I am an avid reader of business books. So, it takes a lot to make me wax lyrical about any particular book, but this book certainly hits that mark and has instantly become my book of the year for 2019.

The book is ‘What it Takes – Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence’ written by Stephen Schwarzman, who is the Chairman, CEO and Co-Founder of Blackstone, one of the largest private equity and investment firms in the world with $554bn of assets under management.

The book is an excellent read for anyone in business and tells of the trials and tribulations of pre and post Blackstone and how hard it was initially to get others to invest in the business.

Much of the initial vision and ways of doing business that were set up when there were just a couple of employees in a single office, still exist today across the 24 offices worldwide and the 2,500 employees.

Unlike the normal vision of a private equity company, Blackstone decided from day 1 it would look for growth over the long term and not make short term decisions. This is shown in some of their investments which they have had in place for more than 10 years.

They operate a very rigorous investment process with strong processes to analyse and evaluate risk. A good way to see this in action is in their Monday morning meetings. If you go to the Blackstone website, there is a video explaining how it works and why. It is well worth a watch.

In the book Schwarzman covers his 25 rules for work and life. I could have listed all 25 but have picked out just 5 to give a flavour of them:


  • It’s as easy to do something big as it is to do something small, so reach for a fantasy worthy of your pursuit


  • The best executives are made, not born. They never stop learning


  • Information is the most important asset in business


  • Your integrity must be unquestionable


  • Time wounds all deals, sometimes even fatally

Well worth adding to your 2020 reading list!!


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