top of page
  • Writer's pictureAcumen Learning

Business Acumen Celebrities

People You May Know Who Are Business Acumen Super Stars


Not everyone who enters business leadership roles has the skills to keep their company afloat. In fact, Harvard Business Review found that 2 out of every 5 CEOs fail within their first 18 months. Some don’t understand the day-to-day struggles of their employees, don’t know how to prepare for economic downturns, or are unable to innovate beyond their day-to-day to-do list. However, we love to see when individuals who exude business acumen are successful because of it.

Test your Business Acumen skills here:

Steve Jobs

One of the most iconic individuals of the 21st century

Like many great ideas, Apple began in a garage — Steve Jobs’s parent’s garage to be specific. Though he left Apple for 12 years, his return in 1997 as the interim CEO could not have come at a more critical time. In fact, Dell CEO and founder Michael Dell said that if he were in Jobs' shoes, he'd “shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.” On Jobs’s return, Apple had a pipeline of 350 different products, many of which were outdated, expensive, and failing in the market. Jobs' solution was to first borrow cash to keep the company afloat and refocus the company on four products, one of which became the iMac. Of course, his innovative mind and pursuit for perfection from Apple’s products and employees brought us the advancements in computer processes and products which has led us to smartphones and internet accessibility of today. It all really came down to a change in business strategy and anticipating — even inventing — customer needs. Even after his death, Apple has continued to be a hallmark of ingenuity as the largest company with a $2.5 trillion market cap.

Ray Kroc and Harry Sonneborn

The team responsible for expanding the very successful McDonald's

Dick and Mac McDonald may have started the small food menu icon, but Ray Kroc and Harry Sonneborn are the ones that made McDonald's the largest fast food chain in the world. In 1954, Ray believed that the initial six locations could be more, and he took on the risk of expansion and began building. When Ray met Harry two years later, that’s when things really started cooking. Harry Sonneborn offered an idea to Ray that would be the most critical financial decision to ever hit McDonald’s: real estate. Sonneborn suggested Ray not only license McDonald’s to franchisees but also rent the land the building was on. Sonneborn explained, “We are not technically in the food business. We are in the real estate business. The only reason we sell 15-cent hamburgers is because they are the greatest producer of revenue, from which our tenants can pay us our rent.” With this new business strategy in mind, Ray was able to open 597 McDonald’s by the time of his death in 1984, and today McDonald’s has a $190 billion market cap. Innovative, business savvy, and forward-thinking skills is what helped Ray and Harry succeed beyond the average business owner. A phenomenal business acumen example.

John W. Nordstrom

A legacy centered on the business acumen of people in every aspect of his company

In 1901, John Nordstrom joined his friend, Carl Wallin, both Swedish immigrants, in the start of a shoe business. Their work ethic translated into a philosophy of providing exceptional service, selection, quality and value. Within the first four years of opening, they went from their opening sales of $12.50 to $80,000 and built a loyal customer base. Nordstrom's mission has always been around its people — not just its customers, but its employees as well. Nordstrom strives for fairness in all areas of its company. Even today, Nordstrom's motto is still, “customers [deserve] the best service, selection, quality and value.” This personal service touch has given Nordstrom its signature customer service persona and has placed it among the most successful department stores still to this day.

Stars of Business Acumen

Business acumen is about exuding the knowledge to succeed. Whether that be creating innovations with the changing technologies, keeping people the center of your business model, or having enough cash on hand to pivot when the economy crashes. Leaders who have taken the time to learn and implement their business acumen skills are the ones still successfully leading today. Business acumen is the key. Learn today the things that could change your career!

Download the course overview for our Building Business Acumen Course:

Examples of Strong Business Acumen:

So, what are some examples of good business acumen? I think there are a lot of examples of business acumen, but let me share a few.

Those people who can take a good idea and translate that into the economic value of that idea, to the company. And not just being able to frame the idea in the financial and business implications of that idea, but also how to tactically drive that idea forward to execution.

To finish learning about business acumen examples, click below:

✅ Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more Business Acumen videos!

✅ Follow us on LinkedIn @AcumenLearning to keep up with all company updates!

✅ For more on our business acumen training visit our website!


bottom of page