"He who walks with billionaires, will become a billionaire." ~ Christopher Kozoriz

Jorge Paulo Lemann - Quotes


Swiss-Brazilian Investor

"A culture that favors things being simple."

"A dream big and challenging makes everyone row in the same direction."

"A good administration and an appropriate culture can work anywhere in the world."

"A great deal is one that is long-lasting and sustaining. Many deals can be very good for the short term but have little long-term perspective. Instead of being a quick fix, our recent combination of AmBev and Interbrew to create InBev has an agreement of twenty years between the shareholders.Always have a big dream."

"Always be on the prowl, life, business and exceptional tennis depend on opportunities when they arise - learn to recognize them and go get them."

"Among our major influences was the best investment bank in the world today, Goldman Sachs – They learned with meritocracy… and the need to provide opportunities for people. Wal-Mart – With Sam Walton we learned that to get to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, you must be calm to go all the way through the rainbow and be very motivating to employees, treat them well and also to customers. And General Electric - we did not have direct contact with them, as in the other two cases but we always read everything on Jack Welch, GE’s annual reports were our Bible. Based on these three aspects and more on what we were learning to do business, we have built our own culture."

"An essential part of communication is… everything is talked about openly…" [No glass walls] 

"Are very much to the point. They are very confident about saying what they believe. There’s not much b.s. They’re courageous. It saves a lot of time and is good practice." [People with consistency]

"Attract the right people who work well together." 

"Being ethical and transparent always pays off."

"Being paranoid about costs and expenses, which are the only variables under our control helps ensure survival in the long term." 

"Business was like tennis. You don’t win all the points, and the sets, but if you keep pushing and focusing you can win overall." 

"Buy low and sell high." 

"Chief among them is education. We need to focus on the quality of education. That goes for both the students of primary and secondary education as well as for businesses. The great asset of a company is its people." [In 2010 on the bottlenecks that can harm Brazil’s competitiveness]

"Choose people better than oneself, train them, challenge them and keeping them is the main task of administrators." 

"Common sense is as good as a lot of knowledge. Simple is the best ‘Modus operandi’." (Method of operation) 

"Competitive Advantage – The innovation that adds value is useful, but copying what already works is usually more practical."

"Courageous is the coward with no option."

"Create a big dream." 

"Create a big dream. Keep it simple, easily understood, and measured. Attract the right people who work well together. Measure results consistently. You can create, run, or improve anything with this formula." 

"Do not play to the audience, a beautiful game does not always win." 

"Education has a much more lasting effect and takes longer to fix."

"Entrepreneurs and Brazilian executives were tested in an environment of economic turmoil and great change. With this, we are more prepared to deal with adverse situations."  

"Ethics are different around the world. But, one thing that remains constant: A person with integrity has the utmost respect for his or her teammates."

"Everything has to have an owner with responsibility and authority. Debate is good, but in the end, someone has to decide." 

"Everything is a learning experience, we're always learning and trying to improve, even today, at 67, I still try to serve better on the tennis court."  

"Focus is essential. You cannot be great at everything. We must concentrate on the essential." 

"Focus on your goal, always have a big dream."

"Foibles and cleverness destroy a company from the inside. Ethics pays off in the long term." 

"For many years, we evaluated 10 to 15 business ideas every week. We were able to back good ideas with capable entreprenuers. We seemed to know winning management teams when we met them." 

"For things to happen in operations and marketing you have to wear out the shoes."

"Good and ethical people attract more good and ethical people."

"Honestly, I enjoy working. It’s what I enjoy doing." [At age 68]

"I always say, 'To have a big dream requires the same effort as having a small dream. Dream big!'" 

"I am a person who believes strongly in human assets, that is my priority, always." 

"I am worried about the low educational levels seen in Brazil – we are losing the competency race in the globalized world." 

"I can adapt to any place. Most importantly I am fully aware that the culture is different in other countries." 

"If a person is bad tempered, nervous, I don’t care. As long as he has integrity you can deal with him, with any problem. The whole organization will function much better if people have integrity overall. Good and ethical people attract more good and ethical people." 

"If I’m going to invest in a company and you tell me that it will manufacture gold dust or pepper, I do not care. I’m much more interested in seeing who’s there playing the management, what these people think, what they believe. I am a person who believes strongly in human assets, that is my priority, always." 

"If possible, in this endeavor capture the winds and let them help you." 

"In day-to-day life, you have stimulus to behave unethically, but in the long term, it always pays off to be ethical." 

"Inflation, fiscal deficits, debt problems can all be worked out and fixed. Education has a much more lasting effect and takes longer to fix." 

"In our culture, nobody progresses if we do not create a replacement." 

"In the case of Brahma, if we had done the due diligence properly, we would never have bought. Immediately after the acquisition, we found major financial problems, especially in the pension fund. But we did buy. Why? Because our feeling said that we are a country with a young population, with much fire, and we believed that beer was being poorly played a good deal here." [Ten years this they acquired their rival Antarctica, creating AmBev] 

"I think a lot of people coming opening [listing] capital is just because you see a pot of gold here. This is bad, because the pot of gold can disappear. I think you have to really believe that a company a listed company is an animal that is healthier than an unlisted company, and she is more likely to survive and grow. And it is still necessary to find out what are the basic rules that make a listed company work well and succeed, and embrace them." 

"I think we were successful because the union was fully aware that the three together could do much more than anyone individually." [On his partnership with Carlos A Sicupira and Marcel H Telles] 

"It is good to dream big and reach there" (at age 9, I wanted to be world champion in tennis, at just 45 years old, I came to the category of veterans, but I found myself satisfied). 

"It’s like a tennis match. Sure, you’re out to kill the other guy, but if you live by the rules, it will be good for both of you." 

"It takes the same effort to think small than to think big. But to think big frees you from the insignificant details." 

"It was actually reading the books and teachings of Jim Collins who helped me build our business trajectory." [In 2010]

"I’ve dealt with a lot of different people… Europeans, Brazilians… different religions, different backgrounds. I really don’t care. I think the one trait that you really can’t deal with is a lack of integrity. If a person is playing games, even if they are useful to the firm in some ways, in the end they get mixed up; they don’t function within the whole organization." 

"I was with Sam once. We were in a competitor’s store. I had a bad cold, and in the store I saw a flask of Vicks Vapor Rub. I was there, I saw it and so I bought it. It cost twenty-five cents or something like that. I paid at the counter and Sam was absolutely furious. He went berserk. He made me go back and get a refund. Then we immediately went to a Wal-Mart store where he showed me that the same product cost one cent less. He could not understand why I would buy something in a competitor’s store that cost one cent more." [On Sam Walton]

"Keep it simple, easily understood, and measured." 

"Leadership by personal example is vital, both in heroics as in day-to-day small gestures."

"Learn from the defeats and come back better for the next round." 

"Life is not easy, you need to work hard." [To his children]

"Luck is always the result of sweat. You have to work hard, but enjoy it." 

"Many deals can be very good for the short term but have little long-term perspective." 

"Many of my colleagues, since they were dealing with the state in some form or another, got into the practice of being corrupt because it was a fast way to get rich. Some of them did reasonably well for a while, but they eventually forgot how to run a business properly. They thought the whole world was dependent upon buying somebody or paying someone off. One by one they gradually disappeared. And the guys who were trying to run their businesses on an ethical basis, they lasted much longer." 

"Maybe I was accepted to Harvard only because of my tennis skills, since I definitively had no great academic achievements. I was 17 and only thought about surfing and playing tennis. I had almost never left Rio de Janeiro and had never been to the United States."

"Measure results consistently."

"Money is just a way to measure whether the business is doing well or not, but money itself is not what fascinates me. "

"My biggest success in business was the discovery some forty years ago that by attracting excellent people to work with me and giving them a chance to grow, I would go much further than I would by myself. "

"My current goal is to become the largest brewer in the world. I already have an idea for the next step." [In 2005]

"My dream is to make the company a global management model of the XXI century. "

"Name, reputation and brand are invaluable assets that take decades to build and are lost in seconds. "

"No matter where you are in the world, you treat other people exactly how you would like to be treated – honestly and fairly. "

"One factor that distinguishes us (He and partner Carlos Alberto Sicupira and Marcel Telles) and other businessmen who served to keep us together was the common ability to take risks. I mean, we would never have done what we did if we had not stumbled together to take some risks." [In April 2008]

"One of the advantages of being in a backward country is that you can go outside and look at how people are doing things and copy the things you think are good." 

"Our main attribute is that we have been tested in an environment of great economic turmoil and major transformations. The ups and downs of the economy prepared us to deal with adverse situations. Brazilians tend to go abroad to invest in sectors considered old. "

"Over time, I began to trust and depend more on studies, projections and various opinions in a more formal decision-making process. But the feeling will never disperse. We take risks deeply based on much more than sentiment analysis. I would say that we acted before with 80% feeling and 20% of study and, nowadays, this mix may be 50% - 50%, but I would not want to go in the direction to be 90% and 10% of study feeling. I guess what you feel in your belly is as good as what is on paper." [On the analysis of a new business]

"Profit is what attracts investors, good people and opportunities and maintaining the machine. "

"The Americans… prefer to focus their efforts on high-end segments. "

"The culture is to work hard, very hard and has no ‘cakewalk’. "

"The greatest asset of a company is good people, working together, growing… "

"The idea of not doing anything I do not like. When I turned 60 years old, I was on the board of directors of a Swiss company and received a letter from the president of the council congratulating me for my birthday and telling me it was time for me to stop and enjoy life. I was furious, I wrote him a letter saying I did not intend to do any of that. Honestly, I enjoy working. It’s what I enjoy doing." [On what motivates him]

"There is an intimate relationship between the force applied and the results obtained. 

"The three short years I spent at Harvard, where I lived with excellent people, taught me not only that I must know how to choose my partners but also that choosing excellent partners is a skill you can learn. Obviously, when you spend time with the best, you learn how to choose among them. "

"The greatest asset of a company is its people. "
"The greatest asset of a company are its employees. "

"To illustrate what I thought of durability, I’ll tell you a story: When I was young, I was in Japan and did an interview with Matsushita, the great Japanese entrepreneur of the time who was 80 odd years old. Suddenly, he began to tell me of his plans for the company for the next 500 years in a most natural way. The truth! I, a Brazilian who was barely managing to survive until the next day was impressed by that. "

"Transparency facilitates information flow and minimizes conflicts. "

"Unlike the Americans, who only have eyes for technology segments, Brazilian businessmen go abroad to invest in sectors considered ancient, like beer, cement, steel and even hamburgers." [In 2010]

"Walton believed it was his duty to provide the lowest prices to his consumers. That was a core principle. And he stuck to his principles – consistently." [Sam]

"We basically think the ideal is a company that has shareholders and public shareholders also working within the company, because they certainly are interested in perpetuating the business. "

"We need to improve the quality of teaching. And this is a task not only for the government but also for the private sector. "

"We’re gonna walk, whoever wants to come, come – who’ever doesn’t want to come - don’t come."

"We seemed to know winning management teams when we met them. "

"We were never the kinds of entrepreneur who wants all the profits our ourselves and seeing the rest as ‘Indians’… "

"We were sometimes not sure whether we were in the brewing, retailing, or finance business, but we all were certain we were in the people business "

"We would never have done what we did if we had not stumbled together to take some risks. "

"What moves me today is the will to ensure that companies have permance, durability. "

"What you feel in your gut is as good as what is on paper."

"With a clash of management [businessmen] can quickly raise the value of the companies.  "

"You always work to be a champion. I do not believe it when someone says otherwise. "