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Steve Forbes shares success stories with Rutgers business students

Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine and chairman of Forbes Media, spoke about how to be an effective leader to just over 750 Rutgers Business School students, alumni and guests on Sunday. – Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez

Everyone fails, but not everyone can learn from mistakes and go on to succeed.

That was just one of the lessons Forbes Magazine Editor-in-Chief Steve Forbes presented Sunday at the State Theatre at Rutgers Business School’s “Coming Home: Honoring our Heroes and Heritage” event.

“What is the fundamental difference between people today and people from the Stone Age? Same human bodies, same appetites, same resources. The difference between us and (ancient civilizations) is we know more,” he said. “It’s very basic, we have more knowledge … as long as knowledge is not destroyed, we can come back and we can move ahead.”

Utilizing that knowledge properly is important to success, he said. Steve Jobs failed numerous times and was even fired from the company he founded. He was able to learn from his mistakes and became a famous leader after returning to the company a few years later.

Henry Ford is another example of a leader who learned from his mistakes, Forbes said. Ford declared bankruptcy twice before establishing the company that still bears his name today.

Ford nearly had to declare bankruptcy a third time, but he was able to push for a successful design, kickstarting his business.

“Most startups fail, but the ones that succeed, by god they do succeed,” he said. “You see it all the time, people come up with crazy ideas. You have to have that willingness (to persevere).”

RBS hosted Forbes based on his experience in running Forbes Media, as well as his work with leaders of industry. The event was one of the Rutgers 250 talks being held in celebration of the school’s upcoming birthday.

Growing the business school is one goal for Rutgers’ Strategic Master Plan, said University President Robert L. Barchi. The school itself was born near a major commercial center in the 1900s, due to New Brunswick’s location on the East Coast.

“Rutgers wasn’t founded in a cornfield, it wasn’t founded in a place out in the west, it was founded right in the center of commerce,” Barchi said. “Anything crossing from Philadelphia in the south to New York in the north stopped at New Brunswick.”

Due to the geography of New Jersey, any cargo being shipped between the cities had to be transferred between ferries at Rutgers’ current home.

When pioneers began forming cities in the west, New Brunswick became a center of commerce for cargo heading in that direction as well, he said.

“New Brunswick was one of the centers of the nation before it was a nation, and Rutgers was sitting right here as everything went on,” he said. “In 1838, the first railroad grid was opened across the Raritan and it still runs today, right outside our door.”

Nikhilesh De is the news editor of The Daily Targum. He is a School of Engineering senior. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

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