67 of the Most Fascinating Charles Koch Quotes

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Charles Koch has been chairman and CEO of Koch Industries since 1967. From a revenue perspective, Koch Industries has been America’s second largest private company since 1967. The company is quite diversified with $110 Billion dollar in revenues coming from diverse businesses including oil pipelines, chemical manufacturing, Lycra fabric, Quilted Northern tissue, Dixie cups and even Stainmaster carpet.

Charles’ father, Fred Koch, improved a method of refining heavy oil into gasoline in 1927 and then started the family business in 1940. Charles and his brother David Koch (who died in August 2019) each owned a 42% stake in the company.

Koch Industries is the largest privately held company (by revenue) in the United States and Charles Koch is consistently ranked in the top 50 wealthiest people in the world.

Charles Koch Quotes

  1. “A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value,”
    — Charles Koch
  2. “I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington.”
    — Charles Koch
  3. “Successful companies create value by providing products or services their customers value more highly than available alternatives. They do this while consuming fewer resources, leaving more resources available to satisfy other needs in society. Value creation involves making people’s lives better. It is contributing to prosperity in society.”
    — Charles Koch
  4. “Far too many businesses have been all too eager to lobby for maintaining and increasing subsidies and mandates paid by taxpayers and consumers.”
    — Charles Koch
  5. “I want my legacy to be greater freedom, greater prosperity and a better way of life for my family, our employees and all Americans. And I wish the same for every nation on earth.”– Charles Koch
  6. “Our vision controls the way we think and, therefore, the way we act the vision we have of our jobs determines what we do and the opportunities we see or don’t see.” — Charles Koch
  7. “But it [crony capitalism] erodes our overall standard of living and stifles entrepreneurs by rewarding the politically favored rather than those who provide what consumers want.” — Charles Koch
  8. “Embrace change. Envision what could be, challenge the status quo, and drive creative destruction.”– Charles Koch
  9. “To do meaningful work is to contribute – to create value in society.” — Charles Koch
  10. “The role of business is to provide products and services that make peoples lives better – while using fewer resources – and to act lawfully and with integrity.” — Charles Koch
  11. “I believe that cronyism is nothing more than welfare for the rich and powerful, and should be abolished.” — Charles Koch
  12. “When you start attacking cronyism and peoples political interests, it gets nasty.” — Charles Koch
  13. “We needed to be uncompromising with our workforce, to expect 100 percent of our employees to comply 100 percent of the time with complex and ever-changing government mandates. Striving to comply with every law does not mean agreeing with every law. But, even when faced with laws we think are counter-productive, we must first comply. Only then, from a credible position, can we enter into a dialogue with regulatory agencies to demonstrate alternatives that are more beneficial. If these efforts fail, we can then join with others in using education and/or political efforts to change the law.”– Charles Koch
  14. “We have the best leaders and the most depth of leadership we’ve ever had. If I get hit by a truck, maybe it would get me out of the way and it would go better.” — Charles Koch
  15. “Being captive to quarterly earnings isn’t consistent with long-term value creation. This pressure and the short term focus of equity markets make it difficult for a public company to invest for long-term success, and tend to force company leaders to sacrifice long-term results to protect current earnings.” — Charles Koch
  16. “Many businesses with unpopular products or inefficient production find it much easier to curry the favor of a few influential politicians or a government agency than to compete in the open market.” — Charles Koch
  17. “In general, an asset should be sold when it has greater value to a buyer. This happens when a buyer has a complimentary business or capability that would enable them to do more with that business. Many businesses we have exited were not failures, but had simply reached a point in their life cycle where they no longer provided a core capability or served as a platform for growth.” — Charles Koch
  18. “We strive to hire and retain only those who embrace our MBM® Guiding Principles, which encompass integrity, compliance, value creation, Principled Entrepreneurship, customer focus, knowledge, change, humility, respect and fulfillment.” — Charles Koch
  19. “Most power is power to coerce somebody. We don’t have the power to coerce anybody.” — Charles Koch
  20. “I studied what principles under-laid peace and prosperity and concluded the only way to achieve societal well-being was through a system of economic freedom.” — Charles Koch
  21. “The easy way to make money is to get special political privilege. From the beginning of time, business has cozied up to government and gotten restrictions on competition and subsidies and stuff.” — Charles Koch
  22. “No centralized government, no matter how big, how smart or how powerful, can effectively and efficiently control much of society in a beneficial way. On the contrary, big governments are inherently inefficient and harmful.” — Charles Koch
  23. “If there is wrong, you don’t say we have to get rid of it gradually. If injustice exists, you need to eliminate it immediately.” — Charles Koch
  24. “When everyone gets something for nothing, soon no one will have anything, because no one will be producing anything.”– Charles Koch
  25. “Citizens who over-rely on their government to do everything not only become dependent on their government, they end up having to do whatever the government demands. In the meantime, their initiative and self-respect are destroyed.” — Charles Koch
  26. “Repeatedly asking for government help undermines the foundations of society by destroying initiative and responsibility. It is also a fatal blow to efficiency and corrupts the political process.” — Charles Koch
  27. “As an engineer, I understood that the natural world operated according to fixed laws. Through my studies, I came to realize that there were, likewise, laws that govern human wellbeing. It seemed to me that these laws are fundamental not only to the wellbeing of societies, but also to the miniature societies of organizations. Indeed, that is what we found when we began to apply these principles systematically at Koch Industries. Through our observation of how they could create prosperity in an organization, I began to systematize my beliefs into Market-Based Management.” — Charles Koch
  28. “We try to evaluate how much value an employee is creating here and reward them accordingly.” — Charles Koch
  29. “By instilling a work ethic in me at an early age, my father did me a big favor, although it didn’t seem like a favor back then. By the time I was eight, he made sure work occupied most of my spare time.” –Charles Koch
  30. “We must measure what leads to results, not simply what is easy to measure.” –Charles Koch
  31. “The most difficult and painful of all changes: A change in the way we think.” –Charles Koch
  32. “There are now businesses and entire industries that exist solely as a result of federal patronage. Profiting from government instead of earning profits in the economy, such businesses can continue to succeed even if they are squandering resources and making products that people wouldn’t ordinarily buy.” –Charles Koch
  33. “All the corporate welfare, yeah, it goes from cash payments to debt, to regulations on the competitors, to restrictions on trade, to mandates. You name it, anything so that business doesn’t have to do a better job of creating value for others – they can just get the system in their favor.”– Charles Koch,
  34. “The size of the experiment should have been limited in proportion to the risk-adjusted potential of the opportunity.”
    ― Charles G. Koch, Good Profit: How Creating Value for Others
  35. “Rather than squandering our scarcest resource (talent) trying to save a marginal business, we’ve learned to focus that resource on opportunities with real potential.”
    ― Charles G. Koch, Good Profit: How Creating superior value means generating greater value from the resources consumed than alternate uses.
  36. “The role of business in society is to help people improve their lives by providing products and services they value more highly than their alternatives, and to do so while consuming fewer resources.” ― Charles G. Koch
  37. “Successful entrepreneurs are not deterred by their lack of authority to control resources.” –Charles Koch
  38. “Prudent risk-taking should be encouraged by applying the concept of opportunity cost.” –Charles Koch
  39. “Just as central planning is a failure in running government, so it is at the level of the firm.” –Charles Koch
  40. “[His father] He told me at an early age that he didn’t want ‘no country club bum’ as he facetiously put it. There was going to be no country club in my life as a boy. He started me out digging dandelions – when I was six years old – in most of my spare time. And I thought I’d soon get over that but it escalated from there.” –Charles Koch
  41. “Vision for us is not a one-time statement of goals and aspirations, but a dynamic concept, always evolving based on continual examination of how we can create value for our customers and for society.” –Charles Koch
  42. “The process of discovery begins when we observe, often vaguely, a gap between what is and what could be.” –Charles Koch
  43. “People benefit through profit and loss according to the value they create in society.” –Charles Koch
  44. “Do what you have a passion for and is most rewarding to you.” –Charles Koch
  45. “In a return free market, with beneficial rules and property rights, the appropriate measure of the enterprise’s value creation is long-term profitability.” –Charles Koch
  46. “We all tend to pursue our own interests, but in a true market economy we can only prosper by providing others with what they value.” –Charles Koch
  47. “We don’t enter into partnerships without an exit mechanism.” –Charles Koch
  48. “You’ve go to be honest with people. You’ve got to challenge. You’ve go to give people honest feedback .” –Charles Koch
  49. “True failures, are lost opportunities, the things you should have done but didn’t.” –Charles Koch
  50. “To the person with only a hammer and no understanding, every problem looks like a nail.” –Charles Koch
  51. “When everyone gets something for nothing, soon no one will have anything, because no one will be producing anything.”–Charles Koch
  52. “Since 1961, the year I came to work for my father, the book value of Koch Industries has increased 2000-fold (assuming reinvestment of dividends.) Unusual among large companies, Koch Industries has continued to grow rapidly and profitably as we’ve become bigger.” –Charles Koch
  53. “Unusual among large companies, Koch Industries has continued to grow rapidly and profitably as we’ve become bigger. We are frequently asked how we do it. The answer is simple: MBM. We define MBM as a philosophy that enables organizations to succeed long term by applying the principles that allow free societies to prosper.” –Charles Koch
  54. “Businesses’ visions must – and do – change.” –Charles Koch
  55. “My father, who co-founded the company that would become Koch Industries. He exemplified much of what is centrally important to us: the value of hard work, integrity, humility and a lifelong dedication to learning.” –Charles Koch
  56. “I developed two strong passions. The first was to help build a great company. The second was to identify and understand the principles that lead to prosperity and societal progress. After studying history, economics, philosophy, science psychology and other disciplines, I concluded that the two passions were strongly, indeed intimately related.” –Charles Koch
  57. “I understood the natural world operated according to fixed laws… I came to realize that there were, likewise, laws that govern human well-being.” –Charles Koch
  58. “Prosperity is only possible in a system where property rights are clearly and properly defined and protected, people are free to speak, exchange and contract, and prices are free to guide beneficial action.” –Charles Koch
  59. “Allowing people the freedom to pursue their own interests, within beneficial rules of just conduct, is the best and only sustainable way to promote societal progress.” –Charles Koch
  60. “For business to survive and prosper, it must create real long-term value in society through principled behavior.” –Charles Koch
  61. “I am convinced the combination of our market based philosophy and how we practice it has been the primary source of our success.” –Charles Koch
  62. “Past performance does not guarantee future success.” –Charles Koch
  63. “It prompted my father to advise me to ‘never sue; the lawyers get a third, the government gets a third and you get your business destroyed.’ I’ve tried to follow his advice and have filed very few lawsuits. Unfortunately, he forgot to tell me how to keep from being sued.” –Charles Koch
  64. “[On Fred C Koch’s innovative design for the Kaskade fractionation tray introduced by Koch Engineering in 1949] Koch gave up on the Kaskade design after a customer accidentally installed the tray upside down and discovered it worked better that way.” –Charles Koch
  65. “Our willingness to move quickly, absorb more risk and give better service enabled us to become the leading crude oil gathering company.” –Charles Koch
  66. “My father stressed the importance of humility as well as hard work. When I arrived in Wichita, his first words to me were: ‘I hope your first deal is a loser, otherwise you will think you’re a lot smarter than you are.’ He had nothing to worry about – I got us in plenty of losers.” –Charles Koch
  67. “Surprisingly, my father gave me almost complete freedom in the management of Koch Engineering. He told me I could do anything I wanted with it, short of selling it.” –Charles Koch

Related: Larry Ellison Entrepreneurial Quotes

Video: Charles Koch Shares Success Habits of Billionaires

Charles Koch is the business mastermind behind Koch Industries and has been the co-owner, chairman, and CEO since the company’s founding in 1967. Koch Industries is the company behind many well-known brands, including Stainmaster carpet, Quilted Northern tissue, and Dixie Cup.
Charles is also a prolific and highly influential philanthropist. He has dedicated much of his time to maintaining the legacy of the Koch Family Foundation, a charitable organization that provides grants and scholarships to students and promising young artists. Charles is also a regular contributor to various political movements and organizations, including the Republican party and the Cato Institute, a Libertarian think tank in Washington D.C.

 

Summary

Charles Koch is quite an interesting character. For many years he has been a controversial figure because of his funding of the oil industries and funding lobbying efforts that are considered harmful to the environment. In recent years, Koch has been very focused on funding libertarian groups. And in 2020, he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that he regretted contributing to a more hyper partisan political climate in the United States and would be working with democrats and republicans to aid bipartisanship.

Image Credit: Gavin Peters, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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