Winners And How They Succeed by Alistair Campbell

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American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour as a guest speaker at Oxford university

It has shot to number one in the non-fiction hardback best-seller charts in less than a week. Featuring interviews with Anna Wintour, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and Alex Ferguson, it asks how do sports stars excel, entrepreneurs thrive or individuals achieve their ambition? We pick out ten of the key insights from Alastair Campbell's new book 'Winners And How They Succeed'. 

1. Jose Mourinho on the power of knowledge

“I think the thing that I have that has helped me be successful in my career is the way I am prepared for my job, the knowledge I have about my job. People used to think it was about personality, the way you lead people, this kind of thing. These can be a plus but the basic thing of success is the way you are prepared to do the job. With my personality, principles, my leadership, these are all things that are complementary to what I do.”

2. Martha Lane Fox on innovation and failure

“If you are an innovator focused on big things, it means you have to be prepared to screw up. I have screwed up so many times. Big things like backing ventures I should never have backed. Or like the time I sent an email to the whole company, which contained everyone’s salary and a list of people we were planning to fire. I make mistakes. But the key is not to do it again. Take the immediate hit, learn and move on. Do not let mistakes put you off coming up with new ideas for innovation.”

3. Alex Ferguson on leadership

“If it was bad news, they got it from me. If I wasn’t picking a player who was expecting to be picked, if there was a player I had to trade, no matter how uncomfortable it was, I would tell them, and I would try to tell them why. Sometimes they would be sad, hurt, upset, I sometimes found it very difficult, but in those circumstances I think it is better to be honest, even if it’s uncomfortable, than talk to them like you’re a robot. And players have to be able to deal with tough times – that is about character.”

4. Richard Branson on boldness

“You know, the authorities wouldn’t let me register the name [Virgin] for three years because they thought it was rude. I had to write saying the Oxford Dictionary meaning of the word virgin is “pure, untouched, unblemished” and asking which parts of that are rude. Finally they relented.”

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Arianna Huffington at the launch of her book 'Thrive'

5.Arianna Huffington on innovation

“Innovation is never seeing yourself as a finished product. It is understanding that you are always work in progress. It is about disrupting your own operations and looking at how they can improve. You must be your own disrupter.”

6.Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on teamship

“I honestly never thought about it in terms of money. I just had the idea of an online encyclopedia, it took us a while to work it out and when we did I just wanted to make it work. I am not sure it would have been so good if we had thought about it as a moneymaking venture. Sure if you have 550 million people using it that is a big advertising opportunity but I never wanted advertising on there…I think for something that is about trying to help the world have all the human knowledge for free, that doesn’t work.”

7. Anna Wintour on getting through the first day

“Day one was awful, a total nightmare, because a gossip columnist had done a full page saying I only got the job because I was having an affair with the boss. It was totally untrue, but that kind of cast a shadow on the first day. I was just trying to hold up my head and get through it.”

8. Baseball's Joe Torre on mindset

“Just because players have great ability it doesn’t automatically mean they’re winners. I came across plenty of players who had ability but were happy to settle for mediocrity, that was good enough. Derek Jeter [in 2014 aged forty, playing his last season after twenty years with the Yankees] was not the most talented player in the world but when it came to will to win, and the will to lead, he was something else. That is an intangible, you cannot put a number on it. The mental side is what makes the difference; attitude and mindset. What made Derek special was something pretty simple: he turned out for work every day and was just determined to do his very best, every single day.”

9. Martina Navratilova on motivation 

“Do what you love and love what you do, and everything else is detail.”

10. And Roy Hodgson on management

“There are two types of player – the players who bring what they have to the team and make the team good, and players who use the team to make themselves look good.”