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CEO Jay Sidhu’s Success Secrets Will Inspire You

Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to achieve their vision. Yet, very few manage to do it.

Business, love, sports, weight loss … you name it. Everyone wants to be successful. Everyone wants to achieve their vision. But not everyone manages to do it.

What’s the difference? What happens?

Bad things happen to everyone. Problems arise. Plans don’t work out. Sometimes we’re just unlucky.

Is that what separates success from failure? No.


Learn to Stick with It

Here’s the difference between failure and success: quitting, or deciding to never ever, ever give up.

Photo: Jay Sidhu, CEO of Customers Bancorp, Inc., and Executive Chairman of Customers Bank | Courtesy Photo
Photo: Jay Sidhu, CEO of Customers Bancorp, Inc., and Executive Chairman of Customers Bank | Courtesy Photo

I went from being the son of an infantry officer in the Indian army and a stay-at-home mom to earning an MBA in America, and eventually becoming the Chief Executive Officer of a failing bank that I led to becoming a Fortune 500 powerhouse in the US financial services industry.

My father taught me the secret of perseverance at a young age. He told me that I could succeed in life by defining a mission and setting forth a step-by-step strategy to achieve it and even exceed expectations.

He trusted me to drive a military Jeep when I was ten years old. As a high-ranking infantry officer in the Indian army, he would drive a Jeep home from the office. I thought the vehicle was very cool and asked to drive it. He agreed, so I hopped into the passenger seat, and he drove about 100 yards. I watched him maneuver the stick shift, paying particular attention to his hand and foot movements. Then, he asked if I was ready to drive, and I answered with a resounding “Yes.”

I almost landed in a ditch, but thankfully, I could apply the brakes. My father didn’t criticize me. He didn’t scold me. Instead, he said, “Okay, son, you’ve learned a lesson.” And on his subsequent visits home, he’d let me drive for three minutes, then four, then five.


Make a plan

My father taught me that life is all about planning your mission and achieving it successfully. And to never ever, ever give up along the way, even if you face adversity. He stressed the critical importance of defining your mission clearly and succinctly – what are you trying to achieve? (Drive safely.)

Next, determine the steps necessary to achieve that objective – how will you win your mission? (Trust, observe, and practice.)

Along the way, evaluate the steps and listen to feedback – is it advisable to pivot strategically? (Take a different vehicle or a different route.) And no matter what, never take your mind off your vision or your dream.


Believe in Yourself

Through his example, my father showed me how resilience is another key attribute of both a successful human being and an effective leader. Learn from your failures and celebrate your successes. Motivate yourself and your team with enthusiasm and passion. That’s how everyone, yourself included, will enjoy achieving your mission. And I sure enjoyed my subsequent driving adventures.


My Journey to Success

At 18, I had the crazy notion to hitchhike from India to London. I was robbed. I didn’t have much to eat. I spent a night in jail. But I made it.

In my early 20s, I decided I wanted to go to an American business school, but I didn’t even have enough money to pay the application fee. I flew halfway around the world and arrived on a holiday when the school was closed. I spent the night in the YMCA and the next day I learned there was a misunderstanding about my scholarship. But I hung in there, and found a way, and today the business school at that university is named after me.

I took a tiny little thrift institution and – with a lot of help from colleagues and friends – built it into the 17th largest bank in the United States. Then there was a little tussle with some board members and, ultimately, I was essentially forced to resign. Today, I am back at it, taking what was another small struggling bank hopefully to national prominence.

Things go wrong. However, despite many setbacks and failures, I never gave up on my vision.


Your Journey

I’ve shared these memories (and more in my book Never Ever, Ever Give Up) so that they might inspire you to take some chances and succeed in ways you might never have imagined. This is my story. What’s yours?


Giving Back

I want to help others with this book and use it to give back to society. Every dollar earned from this endeavor will go to help educate someone who cannot afford college.


Jay Sidhu serves as Chief Executive Officer of Customers Bancorp, Inc., and Executive Chairman of Customers Bank. Under Jay’s management, Customers Bank grew from a $250 million troubled bank to over $20 billion in assets in approximately ten years. Prior to joining Customers Bank, he served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sovereign Bancorp, Inc. There, he grew the organization from an Initial Public Offering of $12 million into the 17th largest banking institution in the country with a market cap of $12 billion at his retirement. Sidhu has received numerous recognitions in the industry, including Financial World’s CEO of the Year, Turnaround Entrepreneur of the Year, and was named the Large Business Leader of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. He is the author of Never Ever, Ever Give Up.


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