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Michael Dell Leadership and SuccessMichael Dell Leadership and Success


Michael Dell (1965- )


Billionaire American founder of Dell Inc that Dell (pictured right) created in 1984 with $1000 in Austin, Texas, after dropping out from university.

Its huge success has been based on selling computers direct to customers .


Why is he successful?


1. Serving customers

How does he do this?


a) speed

(quick and direct delivery).

 Michael Dell Leadership and Success

b) low prices through low costs 

(by cutting out the retailer and making his computers in the Far East with a big sales staff in India).


c) high research and development spending

(to improve the technical ability and reliability of his computers).


d) innovation

(developing new and better products, all the time, e.g. desktops, servers, notebooks and printers).


e) listening to customers 

(including their complaints).


2. Continuous improvement

He is always looking for improved solutions to customers’ problems.

He started his company with a simple question:

How can we make the process of making a computer better?


3. Never complacent

He realizes that success can easily turn into failure.

“It’s easy, when things look good, to assume that you’re invincible. But that’s exactly when you’re weakest”, he says.

 Michael Dell Leadership and Success

4. Respect


  • leads by example.
  • is brilliant under pressure.
  • has the humility to admit his mistakes and do something about them.
  • looks after his employees well.
  • listens to employees' views via “Tell Dell” surveys. 


5. Picks good people

He employs bright people to continually improve his business.


6. Determination to succeed

He has proved one of his teachers completely wrong, who said he “would probably never go anywhere in life”.

He has:


a) faced problems with great determination

(particularly fighting to increase market share in the highly competitive computer market).


b) always pursued his own dreams, not anybody else’s.

(so he dropped out of medical school, even though his parents wanted him to become a doctor).


7. Energy and time management


  • has incredible energy and enthusiasm for his job. 
  • is always bursting with new ideas.  
  • uses his time well.


8. Curiosity and luck

He loves new ideas and exploring and making things.

His parents gave him his first computer (an Apple) when he was 15. He immediately took it apart to see how it worked and then put it back together again!

He was lucky - he had wealthy parents and went to good schools.

 Michael Dell Leadership and Success

9. Leisure and family

Although he works incredibly hard, he makes time for his leisure and family (his wife, Susan, pictured right together, a clothes designer and boutique owner, and four children).

At about 7.30, he takes them to school, then goes to work and returns about 6.30 p.m. for dinner with the family.

He does a few e-mails, while his children go to bed, and then reads them a story.

He and his wife then work until bed at about 10.30 with no TV!


10. Fitness

He gets up at 5.45 or 6 a.m., and does some exercise (running, weight training or swimming).


Key quote on strategy

Don’t spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity, that you miss the right opportunity.


Key quote on work

Passion should be the fire that drives your life’s work.


Key quote on vision and objectives

Listen to your heart and let it carry you in the direction of your dreams.

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