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16 pieces of fantastic career advice from successful people to try in 2016

Richard BransonPaul Kane/Getty Images

The holidays are over and 2016 stretches before us, wide and unwritten. You can make it your best year so far.

Sure, the next 12 months will bring your share of troubles, issues and set-backs. But they will also usher in a heaping load of opportunities, experiences and victories.

To help guide you to make the most of all them, here’s 16 pieces of fantastic and thought provoking career advice from 16 successful people for you to try in 2016.

Richard Branson: Don't waste energy on your so-called failures


Richard Branson's mother taught him that regret is simply wasted energy.

'The amount of time people waste dwelling on failures, rather than putting that energy into another project, always amazes me,'

The Virgin Group founder and chairman told The Good Entrepreneur. 'I have fun running ALL the Virgin businesses -- so a setback is never a bad experience, just a learning curve.'

Mark Cuban: Be the listener

Christian Petersen/Getty

An early mentor taught Mark Cuban that the most important skill was to listen.

He told Cuban at the start of any meeting, write the word LISTEN at the top of his notebook and use it as a reminder through the whole meeting.

By listening, he didn't mean simply being quiet, waiting for his turn to talk. He meant really focusing on what the other person was saying.

Solemates founder Becca Brown: Act 'as if'

Courtesy of Becca Brown.

Becca Brown, in her mid 30's, cut her teeth at Goldman Sachs before launching her shoe-care startup, which now sells its products in over 3,000 stores.

The best advice she ever got was from her college lacrosse coach, who told her to 'Act as if.'

'It's a mentality, a state of mind, a perspective,' Brown explains.

'Things are not always going to go your way in business, in your career, and in life. There will be setbacks and disappointments, and you may be tempted to get down on yourself, but you have to act as if -- as if it didn't happen. As if it didn't faze you. As if things had gone your way.'

Emily Hughes: Talk to a lot of people

Carlo Allegri/Getty

When Emily Hughes was in junior high, she made it onto the US figure skating team for the 2006 Torino Olympic Games. Today she's a business consultant for Google Fibre.

But in between, when moving from athlete to an unknown new career path, she felt a little lost. 'I didn't have a résumé. I didn't know what consulting was.'

So she started by talking to people, all sorts of people.

'I set up conversations with people to explore what industries were out there, what types of professions were out there, and what different people did at different types of companies,' Hughes explains.

'It was a way for me to recognise what skills I had, and also what skills I wanted to learn to be able to do what I wanted to do.'

LinkedIn's Pat Wadors: choose a job experience over a title

Courtesy of LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of those resume-making Valley companies, known for its great pay and great perks.

Pat Wadors, the senior vice president of LinkedIn's global talent organisation, shared this bit of advice for people starting out in their careers that's good for anyone at any career stage.

'You will take lateral moves,' she said. 'You will change industries. What you're looking for isn't a title; it's an experience and skill. Don't fixate on the title or incremental improvements.'

Jerry Seinfeld: Focus on doing good work not on self promotion

Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Some time ago, Jerry Seinfeld did a Reddit AMA session where he offered some great career advice.

He said the wrong advice you could give to a new comedian, or any young professional, is that 'you have to do more to promote yourself. That's the worst advice. The best advice is to do your work, and you won't have to worry about anything else.'

Google's Amit Singh: Go sideways to go up

Business Insider/Julie Bort

Almost six years ago, Amit Singh left a good, prominent job at Oracle to help Google build a new, and at that time unproven, business, its Google Apps for Work.

It felt like a risky move at the time, and he had to move his family from Boston to the Bay Area to do it.

Looking back, what he learned is good advice, he told us.

'When you are at that moment: take the chance. I mean some might feel that this was a small chance for me, but it didn't feel like that to me at the time. I had a great career going at Oracle, so to shift here was a big thing,' he says.

He learned that sometimes you have to take 'a sideways move to get to something bigger, which may not be obvious right away,' he says.

Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst: strive for sustainable balance

Jim Whitehurst has had a bunch of successful careers, from management consultant at Boston Consulting Group to COO of Delta Airlines to CEO of Red Hat.

He says that people should not treat their careers like a 'crash diet' where you work epic hours until you collapse and then you do it all over again.

'While there will be periods of intense stress -- like in my case when Delta was preparing for bankruptcy or during my first 100 days at Red Hat -- in general you must find a business and life rhythm you can maintain over the long term,' he says.

'Find a rhythm where you can have enough time for family and friends, feel satisfied emotionally, and still excel at work, because building a great career is a marathon, not a sprint.'

Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski: actively make your job more meaningful

Yale School of Management professor Amy Wrzesniewski is well-known for a study about how people find meaning in their work.

The happiest employees make their work deeply meaningful by doing what she calls 'job crafting.'

That's when employees find ways to add meaningful tasks into their workday on their own.

Instead of waiting for a boss to assign new projects or for a promotion, they ask themselves 'What can I do to the job right now to make that work more meaningful?,' she says.

It might be something like finding a part of your day when you are helping people, or it might be finding tasks that let you use your best, favourite skills. The point is, you just do these these things and make them a part of your job.

Taylor Swift: above all, know yourself


Taylor Swift has been one of the biggest pop stars in the world for half a decade now and she's been famously level-headed throughout it all.

She explained to Chuck Klosterman for GQ that she had a big revelation about the nature of failure when she was just a little kid.

She was obsessed with a TV show called Behind the Music that documented the ups and downs of successful bands.

'I thought about this a lot. And what I established in my brain was that a lack of self-awareness was always the downfall. That was always the catalyst for the loss of relevance and the loss of ambition and the loss of great art. So self-awareness has been such a huge part of what I try to achieve on a daily basis. It's less about reputation management and strategy and vanity than it is about trying to desperately preserve self-awareness, since that seems to be the first thing to go out the door when people find success.'

Tech investor Gary Vaynerchuk: 'reverse engineer' your career


VaynerMedia cofounder and CEO Gary Vaynerchuk is also known as a long-time tech advising/investor involved in more than 50 startups like Twitter, Tumblr, Medium, Birchbox, Uber, and Venmo.

He reportedly became a millionaire by age 35. He says,

'If I had to pick one habit that has really changed everything for me, I would have to say it is this: being able to reverse-engineer the finish line of my career in real time.'

He adds, 'When I say reverse-engineer, I'm talking going back, step by step, from that big dream you have to this very moment in time. Figure out what the steps are.'

And he says, you can't simply mimic what someone else has done. 'You can only do what is right for you.'

Katie Couric: say 'yes' to things

Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc/Getty Images

In her book, 'The Best Advice I Ever Got,' Katie Couric says she got the best bit of advice ever from Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who told her:

'Find a way to say yes to things. Say yes to invitations to a new country, say yes to meet new friends, say yes to learn something new. Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job, and your spouse, and even your kids.'

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: Learn when to interrupt

Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As the nation's one-time top diplomat, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has some unique advice.

It applies to everyone but is especially hard for women: when to listen and when to speak up, interrupting if necessary.

'It was a lesson even to myself, having preached about this, to then be in a position on the Security Council where I kind of questioned, 'Shouldn't I just wait and not talk initially?' But if you raise your hand, and you don't get called on, by the time you do, what you had to say doesn't make sense anymore. It's not germane.'

Steve Jobs: Ask for help

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

When Steve Jobs was a 12-year-old kid, he picked up the phone and called legendary tech founder Bill Hewlett to ask him for spare computer parts.

Hewlett wound up giving him a job.

He said in an interview in 1994 that what he learned from that, is that most people don't have those kinds of experiences simply because 'they don't ask.'

So the key to success is very simple: ask for help.

'I've never found anybody that didn't want to help me if I asked for help,' Jobs said.

Marc Andreessen

Kimberly White/Getty Images for Fortune

Marc Andreessen's success started with Netscape. He launched and sold other companies and today is known as one of the Valley's most powerful venture capitalists.

His career advice comes in two parts. First, he says this idea of 'following your passion' is 'dangerous and destructive' because it's only shared by those who have become successful doing what they love.

But there's plenty who have not hit it big doing what they loved.

It's better to focus instead on 'do what contributes' instead, creating a benefit for other people. Those are the folks most likely to be happy.

Sheryl Sandberg: Don't let fear stop you

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has a long string of successful credentials to her name from chief of staff for US Secretary of the Treasury to helping Google become an ad sales phenom, and doing it again at Facebook.

She achieved worldwide fame when she founded the feminist LeanIn movement.

She's gives lots of career advice but this is one the best.

'Believe you can do anything. This is important for everyone and especially for women. Don't let anyone tell you can't have both a meaningful professional career and a fulfilling personal life. When you hear someone say you can't do something, know that you can and start figuring out how. Ask yourself, 'What would I do if I weren't afraid?'

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