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The best business advice this CEO ever got

Brian Sozzi
Editor-at-Large

Keen on getting ahead in the cutthroat world of business? Then want success more than your boss.  

“I got a good sound piece of advice from my very first general manager when I was a brand manager and learning how to manage other people. The advice they gave me was that I would do well if I never let my boss be more aggressive than me,” Clorox Chairman and CEO Benno Dorer told Yahoo Finance.  

“Always be more aggressive than your boss and always get your boss to say no to your ideas the first time and then work with them to say yes the next time because if your boss says yes all the time, it likely means that you’re not pushing things far enough.”

The German-born Dorer has used that aggressive mindset to rise through the ranks of the world’s largest consumer-packaged good companies. It’s no small feat — these companies are often stacked with big teams of well-paid folks armed with every buzzword known to man. Pleasing the boss could be as simple as whipping up some new corporate jargon to put on a product launch press release.

Clorox CEO Benno Dorer says to stay persistent.

Climbing to the top

Dorer joined Clorox (CLX) in 2005 after spending about 14 years in various management roles at Procter & Gamble. From that point on, Dorer led the charge at a host of Clorox businesses. By 2013, he was the executive vice president and chief operating officer — cleaning, international and corporate strategy at Clorox. Given his management experience, knack for knowing technology and developing new products, Dorer became a natural successor to long-time Clorox CEO Donald Knauss.

Dorer officially took over as Clorox CEO in November 2014 and gained the chairman title in August 2016. The 54-year old has pushed Clorox deeper into better understanding online shopping behavior and focusing more on the U.S. than overseas. Of course, there have been new products like scented disinfecting wipes and cat litter. He has also led a series of acquisitions — Nutranext and Renew Life — that have moved Clorox into the nutritional supplements space.

Clorox shares have gained about 53% since Dorer was named CEO, outpacing a 34% rise for the S&P 500.

“In order to be disruptors we have to be bold,” said Dorer. “A key initiative we have is to drive a culture that is bold, decisive and accountable.” 

And that starts with leaders like Dorer.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter@BrianSozzi

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