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Billionaire media mogul Barry Diller’s recipe for success involves forgetting his victories (to the best of his ability).
Diller, a media legend even before becoming chairman of holding company IAC (IAC) and travel company Expedia Inc., told Influencers with Andy Serwer that the one thing he learned from his successes was to forget them immediately.
“I remember thinking, I see the people around me getting really arrogant,” Diller said. “And I learned how awful a poison arrogance is. And so one of the ways you guard against arrogance is to forget success. So I just always tried to brush it clean. Sometimes successfully.”
The 76-year-old businessman seems to be onto something, according to existing research. An oft-cited 2011 study — titled “In Praise of Organizational Forgetting” — argues that one of the strongest cognitive arguments for forgetting “is that it can lead to disruptive innovation because the organization, and perhaps others with which it is associated, decides that they no longer need to rely on old mechanisms and principles.”
Diller’s background — which includes repeated innovation and iterations — seems to corroborate the benefit of this method.
From 1974 to 1984, he served as the Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures. From 1984 to 1994, Diller built the Fox Broadcasting Company. After being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1994, he launched USA Broadcasting. In the 2000s, Diller built up IAC with companies including Ticketmaster, Lending Tree, CollegeHumor, and Vimeo. In August 2005, IAC spun off Expedia Inc. and began building a separate travel portfolio. IAC still owns companies, including Dictionary.com, Tinder, and Investopedia.
View of success involves knowing what you’re good at
Diller has consistently maintained that humility, particularly when it comes to leadership, is a trait to be observed carefully.
In a separate interview with Serwer in 2010, he said: “I never thought I was a very good manager. I mean I am decent, but I want to go back to what I am good at, which is looking for opportunities to grow the business.”
In his recent interview with Serwer, Diller had one thing to say to a fellow veteran businessman, U.S. President Donald Trump: “Go home. Leave us alone, please.”
Diller, who has donated thousands to Democratic nominees for Senate, called the outcome of the 2016 presidential election “an accident of all sorts of forces.”
Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.