33 Motivating CEO Quotes to Inspire You & Your Team

By: | Updated: December 23, 2022

You found our list of the best CEO quotes.

CEO quotes are sayings attributed to Chief Executive Officers from various companies around the globe. Examples include, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently,” and  “Results matter — and results are, at the end of the day, all that really does matter.” The purpose of sharing these sayings is to guide teammates to think about problems in a new way from the perspective of a CEO, to bolster employees’ spirits when the going gets tough, and to encourage co-workers to aim higher than they previously thought possible.

These sayings are similar to quotes about leadership, quotes about jobs and life, hard work quotes, and quotes about success.

This list includes:

  • CEO quotes on employees
  • CEO quotes on leadership
  • CEO quotes on strategy
  • female CEO quotes
  • short CEO quotes
  • funny CEO quotes

Here we go!

CEO quotes on employees

  1. “It’s about getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment and helping to find a way to innovate.” – Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo! 2012-2017
  2. “Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.” – Anne M. Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox Corporation 2001-2009
  3. “It’s a different world today than it was five, 10, 20 years ago. Employees expect their companies to have opinions on a broad array of issues that in the past they probably didn’t expect their companies to have opinions on. I think it’s healthy.” – Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon 2021-Present
  4. “Criticism can be devastating to an employee. I prefer to praise employees for what they’re doing right, and it tends to lead to them doing more of the same. Not always, but it’s the way I choose to bet.”  – Sir Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group 1970-2005
  5. “If you do not treat people with the respect they deserve, do not expect any kind of commitment to your productivity goals and target. Ian Fuhr, CEO of Sorbet group 2004-2019, CEO of Hatch Institute 2020-Present

CEO quotes on leadership

  1. “The best way to get the best out of people is to not force them to be something other than they naturally are. Now, what do they have to be? They have to be respectful.” – Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox Corporation 2009-2016
  2. “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” –  Max DePree, CEO of Herman Miller 1980-1987
  3. “Every time you make the hard, correct decision you become a bit more courageous, and every time you make the easy, wrong decision you become a bit more cowardly…these choices will lead to a courageous or cowardly company.” – Ben Horowitz, CEO of Opsware 1999-2007
  4. “The distance between number one and number two is always a constant. If you want to improve the organization, you have to improve yourself and the organization gets pulled up with you. That is a big lesson.” – Indra Nooyi CEO of PepsiCo 2006-2017
  5. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” –  Jack Welch, CEO General Electric 1981-2001
  6. “Train them to trust their own judgment and make decisions, and then give them the autonomy to do what they need to do. It’s about finding that balance between managing and letting go. You have to allow people to make mistakes, as we learn from mistakes. If you don’t, people will never make a move.” – Dottie Herman, CEO of Douglas Elliman Real Estate 2003-2021
  7. “The next time you are in a meeting, ask the quietest person what they think. Invite everyone into the conversation.” – Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft 2014-Present

CEO quotes on strategy

  1. “You have to be very nimble and very open-minded. Your success is going to be very dependent on how you adapt.” – Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp 2004-Present
  2. “Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning, because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset. It ensures that you will absolutely be doing things different from everybody else.” – Sara Blakely, CEO of SPANX 2000-Present
  3. “When I’m 80 years old, I want to have minimized the number of regrets I have. I think our biggest regrets, in most cases, turn out to be acts of omission. It’s paths not taken and they haunt us. Once I thought about it that way, it was immediately obvious to me…It would be 100 percent chance of regret if I didn’t try and basically a zero percent chance of regret if I tried and failed. So I think that’s a useful metric for any important life decision.” – Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon 1994-2021
  4. “If you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances.” – Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest 2015-Present
  5. “Don’t take too much advice. Most people who have a lot of advice to give with a few exceptions generalize whatever they did. Don’t over-analyze everything. I myself have been guilty of over-thinking problems. Just build things and find out if they work.” – Ben Silbermann, CEO of Pinterest 2010-2022

Female CEO quotes

  1. “I like to say it’s an attitude of not just thinking outside the box, but not even seeing the box.” – Safra A. Catz, CEO of Oracle 2014-Present
  2. “Do every job you’re in like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, and demonstrate that ownership of it” –  Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors 2014-Present
  3. “Just practice. Persevere. If you approach every day like that, when a crisis comes, you’re prepared for it.” –  Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum 2016-Present
  4. “Don’t be silent in the room. Even if you think you’re gonna make a mistake, that’s better than sitting there quiet because you begin to suffocate… So just get it out there and feel like you have value.” – Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Sam’s Club 2012-2017, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance 2021-Present
  5. “The most important factor in determining whether you will succeed isn’t your gender; it’s you. Be open to opportunity and take risks. In fact, take the worst, the messiest, the most challenging assignment that you can find, and then take control.” –  Angela Braly, CEO of WellPoint (Anthem) 2007-2012
  6. “A true servant leader is like being a compassionate coach, someone who raises their people up to their full potential. It can be, and often is, uncomfortable. You must be fierce, strong, and occasionally unpopular. To me, having the courage and willingness to embrace this is selfless.” – Tasia Duske, CEO of Museum Hack 2018-Present

Short CEO quotes

  1. “Always deliver more than expected.” – Larry Page, CEO of Google 1997-2001, CEO of Alphabet Inc. 2011-2015.
  2. “I try not to make any decisions that I’m not excited about.” – Jake Nickell, CEO of Threadless 2000-Present
  3. “Comfort zone is a nice place, but nothing grows there.” – Caroline Cummings, CEO of Varo Ventures 2015-Present
  4. “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.” – Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox 2007-Present
  5. “High expectations are the key to absolutely everything.” – Sam Walton, CEO of Walmart 1962-1988

Funny CEO quotes

  1. “The question, ‘Who ought to be boss?’, is like asking, ‘Who ought to be the tenor in the quartet?’ Obviously, the man who can sing tenor.” – Henry Ford, CEO of Ford Motor Company 1906-1945
  2. “Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?” – Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple 1997-2011
  3. “So go ahead. Fall down. The world looks different from the ground.” – Oprah Winfrey, CEO of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network 2011-Present
  4. “Avoiding the dumb things is the most important. Learn more, know limitations, avoid the dumb things.” – Warren Buffet, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway 1970-Present
  5. “Whenever teenage girls and corporate CEOs covet the same new technology, something extraordinary is happening.” – Michael J. Saylor, CEO of MicroStrategy 1989-2022
  6. “Start now, because as soon as you stop thinking “I’m too young”, you will start thinking “I’m too old.” – Michael Alexis, CEO of teambuilding.com 2020-Present

Final Thoughts

Whether congratulating a team for taking a big risk, encouraging long-time employees to keep improving, or inspiring new hires to dream big, CEO quotes are a great way to motivate your co-workers. By bringing in perspective from successful leaders in business, you can influence your teammates, co-workers, and employees to take risks, dream big, and confidently own their work, just like a CEO. These quotes may even inspire employees to start their own journey to rise in the ranks and eventually become CEOs.

Next, check out CEO books and executive skills and competencies.

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FAQ: CEO quotes

Here are answers to common questions about CEO quotes.

What are the best quotes from CEOs? 

The best quotes from CEOs are “The best way to get the best out of people is to not force them to be something other than they naturally are. Now, what do they have to be? They have to be respectful,” “If you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances,” and “Avoiding the dumb things is the most important. Learn more, know limitations, avoid the dumb things.”

How can you use CEO quotes in the workplace?

You can use CEO quotes in your email signature, send them to teammates on Slack, and start or end meetings with these sentiments. CEO quotes are a great way to inspire those around you and boost morale in the workplace, so feel free to use them often!

Author avatar


People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at teambuilding.com. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.


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