Peter Drucker is known as “the Father of Modern Management.” But as an independent consultant he was also a small businessman. Some say one of the greatest. He didn’t build a large organization. He didn’t even have a secretary, even before the computer and he even answered his own telephone.
Yet he accomplished an amazing amount for his clients, and billed at something like $10,000 for a few hours work and advised small businesses leaders, top managers and country presidents. He didn’t write them down, but as his classroom student, and later his friend, here are five rules I learned from observing him and what he told me in casual conversation.
- Drucker’s father encouraged the young Drucker to participate in adult conversations with visitors to the family home, even with individuals of the stature of Sigmund Freud.But that is not the rule. All of us grow up with different advantages if we stop to think about it and use what we have. Caesar Millan emigrated to the U.S. from Mexico illegally. He didn’t attend college, and he didn’t interact with Sigmund Freud.
But he learned enough about dogs to become a world expert. And today he is every bit as famous as Drucker, and as wealthy, as the “dog whisperer.”
- There’s no reason to build a big organization unless that’s what you want to do. Drucker didn’t. Moreover he was a double immigrant, first to England, then to the U.S. He still became wealthy and famous and made important contributions to society.If a big organization is what you want, well Steven Jobs managed that and he didn’t even have a college degree. It’s up to you to decide what you want to do and how to plan and get the resources you need to do it.
- Honesty is not just the best policy, it is the only policy if you want long-term success. Don’t ever let your integrity slip. How often do you see really big names in every field who let their integrity slip, even late in their careers — and that’s the end of that? So even though it may be give you some immediate advantage, remember that lifelong business success requires lifelong integrity, too.
- Expect there to be obstacles to overcome. The first thing that happened to an acquaintance of mine when he established his own company was that he got sued. It took him three years to overcome this obstacle.Drucker had to shelve his goal of becoming a professor teaching graduate courses at a major university for fifteen years when Hitler came to power in Germany. He emigrated and had to learn English. He first taught at a girl’s college. But, he did what he needed to do and eventually he reached his goal and what he learned and taught about obstacles helped him and thousands of his students, clients, and readers to success as well.
- Don’t depend on others for success, depend only on yourself. I have heard of corporate managers, some excellent ones, who thought that their companies would eventually pay for advanced education or recognize their abilities and promote them to the jobs they wanted. Don’t bet on it.Drucker didn’t even depend on his parents. He took an apprenticeship and spent lots of time reading and educating himself even while he struggled to balance law school at night and working full time.
Drucker was not superhuman. He just calculated what he was going to have to do to succeed, and did it. He didn’t wait for either parental help, corporate help, or a governmental handout. He did what he had to do and depended on himself and he made it to the top.
So can you.
William A. “Bill” Cohen was the first graduate of the doctorate program Drucker co-developed for senior practicing managers. Using Drucker’s methods, Cohen was re-commissioned in the U.S. Air Force and rose to the rank of major general. He is currently president of a MBA-granting non-profit graduate school teaching Drucker’s methods and is the author of more than 50 books on leadership and strategy which have been published in 23 languages. His latest book is Peter Drucker on Consulting (LID Publishing, 2016). You can contact him at [email protected].