Thomas J. Watson

American businessman (1874-1956)

Thomas John Watson, Sr. (February 17, 1874June 19, 1956) was the president of International Business Machines (IBM), who oversaw that company's growth into an international force from the 1920s to the 1950s.

If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.


  • Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.
    • Watson (1939) in: American druggist Vol 100. p. 40.
  • If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.
    • Attributed to Watson in: Roger von Oech (1982), A Whack on the Side of the Head and Industrial participation (1987) Nr 594-603. p. 262.
  • If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less than excellent work.
    • Attributed to Watson in: William G. Dickerson (1995) In search of the ultimate practice. p. 19.
  • Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of "crackpot" than the stigma of conformity.
    • Attributed to Watson in: Georg Blair, Sandy Meadows (1996) A Real-Life Guide to Organizational Change. p. 117.
  • A man is known by the company he keeps. A company is known by the men it keeps.[1]


  • All the problems of the world could be settled easily if men were only willing to think. The trouble is that men very often resort to all sorts of devices in order not to think, because thinking is such hard work.
  • I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
    • Often dated to 1943. Thorough research of Watson's writings and statements have produced no example of him saying this. It appears to be a corruption of a remark by Howard H. Aiken that four or five computers could meet all of the United Kingdom's computing needs. See Ralph Keyes (2006), The Quote Verifier. See also Thomas J. Watson § Famous attribution

See also

Wikipedia has an article about:
  1. Garg, Anu, A Word A Day, Wordsmith, 2016.02.17