Must one be ruthless to succeed in business?


Accidental Stupidity!


“I am a mariner of Odysseus with heart of fire but with mind ruthless and clear” Nikos Kazantzakis

I think the concept of ruthlessness is greatly misunderstood perhaps because it is borderline “assholery”.
Every successful person needs to imbibe some level of ruthlessness whether they want to or not. failure to do so more often than not might have dire consequences.


Is Richard Brandon ruthless? What about Warren Buffet? Or Sam Walton? Or Strive Masiyiwa ? What about Michael Ade Ojo? Mo Ibrahim? What of the Japanese conglomerates that provide life employ ment. Generalizing is dangerous.



What is the name of this Bezos book, please?

Bezos and a lot of successful founders may be to some degree in the Asperger’s Syndrome spectrum and totally lack empathy with stupidity because it is not an effective exercise in the rational allocation of scarce resources. The scarcest of those resources is fucks.

The scarcity of fucks becomes more common with age. Those without Asperger’s are prone to giving too many fucks and tend not to be efficient. They, however, can’t force it. The World drags out fucks from you when you are “normal.” You need to learn “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck” from people like Mike Manson to become a succesful DMF:


I think the book is the Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon


Yep. That’s the name of the book.


Ladies and gentlemen, meet Tiger Mike, who from his memos we know is the hardest of the hard-nosed managers ever… he makes your tough top-boy boss look like a muff-boy in kindergarten. Read his memos here. His company failed.

Anyone who’s studied leadership knows for a fact that personality traits have no bearing on success and while they may affect the perception of the led, they don’t have any measurable impact on the final result.

Research by Jim Collins shows that great companies have what he called “Level 5” Leaders and the only quality they possess that others lack or don’t have enough of is fierce resolve and humility. Most people however would confuse fierce resolve with ruthlessness and that’s not good.


I’m late to this party, but I appreciate what has been shared. I have been treated ruthlessly and so shrewd people make me feel uneasy. But when I look at the definitions, I think I’ve been wrong.

Ruthless - having no pity or compassion for others

Shrewd - having or showing sharp powers of judgment

Which of these was Rockefeller? He basically told competitors, “Let me buy you out or I’ll bury you.” If you refused, he would bribe your vendors and clients to drive your business under. (I say that as a historical fact; that’s how he operated.) That’s ruthless.

If you let him buy you out, you still “lost” your business but he would give you shares in his company and you could earn fairly good money. That’s shrewd.

He was a very regular church-goer and insisted his children follow religious rules of honesty, etc. But the truth is, he was ruthless, not shrewd. He could have been shrewd and simply beaten his competitors honestly. Instead, he resorted to dishonesty to destroy his competitors. THAT is ruthless, according to the definition I see.

So as I compete, will I simply work harder and smarter (be shrewd)? Or will I do what it takes to harm and destroy my competitors (be ruthless)? The answer? Is the extra money worth showing that you cannot possibly win without harming other people? Not to me. That’s my right to choose.


Ruthlessness is different from dishonesty.
You cite examples of him being ruthless and jump to the conclusion that he’s dishonest.

Interesting that you know what he should have done better than him.


You’re right. Being ruthless is not identical to being dishonest. But Rockefeller was both. I’m referring to facts, not trying to disrespect the man. Oil moved by rail because there were almost no pipelines in those days. To beat his competitors, Rockefeller bribed railyard operators and switch operators to “lose” a competitor’s shipment or to rush through his own. Frustrated buyers thought Rockefeller’s competitors must be slow and unreliable. Had he been honest, he would have told them, “I bribed people to get my oil through first.” Since he did not tell the truth, that’s the dishonesty I am referring to. But I agree with you, ruthless is not the same as dishonest.