Stephen A. Schwarzman Shares the Values That Underpin Blackstone’s Success

The latest installment of Bridgewater’s Distinguished Speaker Series welcomed Blackstone chairman, CEO, and co-founder, Stephen A. Schwarzman. In a conversation hosted by CEO David McCormick, Schwarzman discussed the early days of his career, how he started Blackstone, the values he champions in his employees, how he picks his philanthropic projects, and more.

Schwarzman, who last year published What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence in 2019, recalled growing Blackstone from just an idea to one of the world’s leading investment firms, including the humbling nature of those early days of entrepreneurship. “You need emotional reserves, and stability, and the ability to take pain,” he told attendees. Now, as CEO of the largest alternative asset investment firm, he never takes “the immediacy of today” for granted: “We have to assume that every day is the most important day we’ve ever had,” he said.

Despite Schwarzman’s expertise on topics ranging from philanthropy to US-China relations, he is adamant that he doesn’t have all the answers. That belief has shaped his leadership philosophy and the culture of Blackstone: “The job of a leader isn’t to give an answer,” he said. “The job of a leader is to establish a process and let everybody else’s talent come forward.”

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