Entrepreneurs, no matter how innovative and hard-working they may be, didn’t get that way all by themselves. They had to come from an environment that allowed them to see things differently, and surely had to seek out advice at different points along their journey from kids to titans of industry. These 10 entrepreneurs share the single best piece of advice they’ve received along the way.
Read below to find out how you can apply advice they’ve been given to you life, and learn how you can be successful.
‘Have no regrets’
“If you asked every person in the world who gave them their best advice, it is a safe bet that most would say it was their mother. I am no exception. My mother has taught me many valuable lessons that have helped shape my life. But having no regrets stands out above all others, because it has informed every aspect of my life and every business decision we have ever made.”
“… I had access to the best guidance available: We all do. In the era of blogging, many of the leading thinkers in the web industry were publishing their thoughts online for free.
I learned about venture capital thanks to the insights of Fred Wilson, and got my first look at the world of digital marketing thanks to Edelman’s Steve Rubel. Charlene Li of Forrester Research was unknowingly my mentor in the realm of web trends.
Now many of these industry experts have moved to newer platforms like Twitter and Facebook, where they continue to distill their invaluable advice and insights to the world. And everyday (sic), without knowing it, they are actually giving me the best advice: Keep listening.”
‘You can do anything you choose’
“The best advice I’ve ever received was from my father when I was 12 years old and willing to listen. He told me that with my personal characteristics, I could, if I set my mind to it, do anything I chose.
This advice instilled in me a great sense of confidence, and despite the fact that sometimes I was a little nervous, I stepped out and did what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I think it really often is up to the parents to help build confidence in their children. It is a very necessary part of growing up.”
‘Sit on your own bottom’
“If I had to single out one piece of advice that’s guided me through life, most likely it would be from my grandmother, Nellie Molonson. She always made a point of making sure I understood that on the road to success, there’s no point in blaming others when you fail.
Here’s how she put it: ‘Sonny, I don’t care who you are. Some day you’re going to have to sit on your own bottom.’ After more than half a century in the energy business, her advice has proven itself to be spot-on time and time again. My failures? I never have any doubt whom they can be traced back to. My successes? Most likely the same guy.”
‘You can do anything you set your mind to’
“As a child, I can’t recall a day that went by without my dad telling me I could do anything I set my mind to. He said it so often, I stopped hearing it … It wasn’t until decades later that I fully appreciated the importance of those words and the impact they had on me.”
“I’m a nerd, seriously hard-core, and sometimes that translates into being a know-it-all. People got tired of that while I worked at an IBM branch office in Detroit in the eighties. My boss told that that it had become a real problem with about half my co-workers.
However, he said that my saving grace was my sense of humor. When trying to be funny, well, didn’t matter if I was funny or not, at least I wasn’t being an a**hole. The advice was to focus on my sense of humor and worry less about being exactly right. For sure, don’t correct people when it matters little.”
It took a while to get noticed, but it did get noticed, and some tension got less tense. That felt pretty good.
“‘You are not required to finish your work, yet neither are you permitted to desist from it.’ This is from Pirke Aboth, or “The Ethics of the Fathers” … a collection of wisdom from the Jewish Talmudic sages, in this case, Rabbi Tarfon. This particular instruction has resonated with me for years. It’s something I think about nearly each day, and I find myself applying it to everything: My day job, my family life, my long-term hopes, even my sense of responsibility as a citizen.
It’s a beautiful concept. It says you have an obligation to labor, to continue trying and making your way through the world, in essence, making a difference. At the same time, the instruction also focuses you on the effort, not the outcome. The main idea is the project, not the success.”
‘When you want something from someone, give them something instead’
“My father-in-law, the Honorable Steven W. Fisher … taught me this essential business paradox: when you want something from someone, give them something instead, with no strings attached or expectations. Ask how you can be of service. Act like a true friend, even before you’ve established a friendship. Are you guaranteed to be able to leverage this later? Absolutely not. But that’s not the point – the point is that when you act unselfishly – when you behave as you would to a great friend – trustworthy and trusting, respectful and kind – then more often than not, good things will come in the relationship.”
‘Follow your instincts’
“‘Follow your instincts’ was the terse, three-word suggestion I received 25 years ago from Don Valentine, founder of Sequoia Capital.
‘Follow your instincts’ shouldn’t be confused with ‘trust your gut,’ ‘ignore reality,’ ‘rely on your sniffer’ or ‘go for glory.’ The rough translation is ‘do your homework well, analyze things carefully, assess the options but eventually trust your judgment and have the courage of your convictions – even if they are unpopular.”
‘Don’t be a perfectionist’
“Most of us are trained to believe that practice makes perfect; but the best advice I’ve ever received preaches the exact opposite: Don’t be a perfectionist. Today I embrace this, but when I first heard this 7 years ago, I refused to accept it.”
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