The most successful people in the world didn’t make it on their own.
That’s why LinkedIn asked over 90 leaders across a variety of industries to share the best advice they’ve ever received and continue using to this day.
Many recalled something that their parents, teachers, or career mentors taught them that has never left their hearts and minds.
These bits of wisdom inspired them to stay focused, compassionate, and driven, and continue to motivate them.
Scroll down to read the most influential advice used by some of the business world’s top minds.
Julia Boorstin was told to say 'yes' to every job opportunity that came her way -- and then put in the work to make sure it's done right.
The CNBC correspondent joined Fortune magazine straight out of college and was anxious about working on projects she considered beyond her skill set. Her editor Andy Serwer taught her to simply say 'yes' to every opportunity that came her way and do whatever was necessary to get it done.
When Branson, founder of Virgin Group, was 15, he wanted to leave school to start a magazine. His father told him that he could not begin until he sold enough advertising to cover the printing and paper costs, so that a failure would not rid him of funds. Branson used that same strategy as head of Virgin Records when he was ready to start his own airline.
Chopra, the renowned leadership guru, adopted a new worldview from psychiatrist Dr. Dan Siegel. Siegel saw the brain as a tool that needs daily upkeep, and prescribed a 'healthy mind platter' of sleep time, physical time, focus time, time in (self-reflection), down time, play time, and -- most importantly -- connecting time.
Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry and incoming Apple retail chief, spent a lot of time as a teenager in her father's office. He had the poem 'Desiderata' by Max Ehrman framed on his wall, and she memorized it out of boredom. Years later, the poem's message of staying true to oneself set in.
Pickens, chairman and CEO of BP Capital and TBP Investments Management, got a harsh dose of reality from his dad when he was in college. Pickens' father thought his son was drifting aimlessly and told him: 'A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan any day.' Pickens soon declared a new major and said he's had a plan ever since.
Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, always got the same advice from her mother when she felt hopeless. Her mum likened facing adversity to watching a horror film on TV: 'Darling, just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker. Don't replay the bad, scary movie.'
Niederauer, president of the New York Stock Exchange, had a father who put himself through Middlebury College when Robert Frost was a poet-in-residence there. Frost's iconic poem 'The Road Not Taken' left an impression on him, and it inspired his son to work with an entrepreneur right after college, move from Atlanta to Tokyo when he was with Goldman Sachs, and find a creative way to save the financially struggling school his son with Asperberger's attended.
Liu, anchor of 'In the Loop' at Bloomberg Television, got into television mid-career. Many people would consider her lucky for managing to break into such a competitive field, but she insists that 'luck' had nothing to do with it, per se. One time her television coach wrote down a simple equation that broke her frustration and got her where she is today: 'Opportunity + Preparation = Luck.'
When Cashmore, the founder of Mashable, started his media site in 2005, he was driven by the mantra, 'Don't take advice; make your own mistakes.' As he and his business matured, he dropped the first half but stuck to the second bit, which still motivates him to try new things with his site and learn from what fails.
Donahoe, CEO and president of eBay Inc., recently attended a CEO conference in which President Bill Clinton spoke. When asked why anyone would ever want to take on a job as difficult as being president, Clinton replied, 'The one option in life that is almost always the wrong option is walking away and choosing not to be in the game.'
Chahal, chairman and CEO of RadiumOne, became a hotshot young entrepreneur by following his father's example. In 1997, he and his family were about to move out of the projects into their dream home, but his dad lost all of his money in the stock market. After overcoming an initial wave of depression, his father adopted a new resilience and with an unbreakable spirit and tireless work ethic was able to finally get that house.
Thompson, editor of The New Yorker's website, got his favourite piece of advice from his high school cross country coach -- and it has to do with urinating. Thompson's coach told his runners that they should drink enough water before the race so that their pee should be 'copious and clear.' Thompson realised that learning to control something that can be controlled can give you the advantage in a race (or anything in life) full of unpredictable variables.
The first piece of advice Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, ever got turned out be her favourite. When she was in first grade, Rodin's teacher found out that she had boasted to her mother about being the teacher's pet. The teacher kept Rodin after class, and instead of scolding her, taught her that she should never do something for the approval of someone else, and that she must be both her own biggest supporter and worst critic.
Kerpen, the CEO of Likeable Local, got his first job at Radio Disney as a salesperson. His regional sales manager took him aside after a few weeks of his failing miserably and told him, 'Remember this one thing: Shut up and listen.' Kerpen switched his focus to asking potential clients questions and addressing them rather than berating them with information -- within six months, he was the top local salesperson.
David Marcus learned that a new product must convince customers their lives will be better for using it.
Marcus, the president of PayPal, was humbled by a client when he was a cocky 23-year-old entrepreneur. After giving a long pitch to a client, the client responded, 'Don't make me change how I do things unless it's meaningfully better.' Marcus realised that when introducing an entirely new way of doing things to someone, the product has to be significantly more than just a money saver to get people to break ingrained habits.
When Fernandes, CEO of Air Asia, worked for Warner Music Malaysia, its vice president Stephen Shrimpton took him aside for three hours to discuss his aspirations for rising up the ranks. The gist: Take things slow. Fernandes learned that there is no replacement for experience, and that requires patience.
Shortly before Bettinger succeeded Charles Schwab as CEO of Schwab's corporation, Bettinger presented a heavily researched strategic initiative to his boss. Schwab stopped him to ask, 'Which option is the one that is best for our clients?' Bettinger said he never again let pages of analysis make him forget that it was all meant to serve a customer.
Zehner, CEO of Women Moving Millions, received her favourite piece of advice not from a person but a system: Goldman Sachs' partner selection process. Its main message was that you don't choose to manage up or down, but rather build relationships in all directions. To Zehner, this means dedicating time and energy not just to the higher-ups, but to temporary interns, people from other departments, and clients that initially said 'no.'
Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, was told by a former SEAL commander, 'Before I make any critical decision, I always ask myself one question: How much time do I have?' Blumenthal applied that to his own life, consciously removing any false sense of urgency he felt before making an important business decision for his company to keep his mind focused.
Thiel, head of Merrill Lynch, was told by his mother at a young age to 'always do the right thing, every day.' He said his former director at Merrill Lynch, Joe Gannotti, showed him how to apply this to his career when he told him, 'Put your people at the center of your decisions.' He realised it was necessary to actively earn the trust of his team before he could properly lead them.
Stoute, founder and CEO of Translation, became good friends with Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Interscope Records, when Stoute worked for the label. Iovine once told him, 'When the sh-- gets bigger than the cat, you've got to get rid of the cat.' When Stoute thought the music industry had lost sight of the difference between good and great, he decided the negative outweighed the positive and started his own company.
Maynard Webb, chairman of Yahoo, received life-changing advice from one of his coaches at eBay when he was planning to leave his role as COO. Gay Hendricks told him, 'Your 50s are a decade of creativity or stagnation -- so be searching for what you are intended to do.' Webb then began a renewed life in the tech industry and started his own investment network.
Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social, received her favourite advice from her Starbucks board colleague and mentor Craig Weatherup, also the former CEO of PepsiCo. He told her that the keys to leadership are 'head, heart, and hands,' meaning that good business judgment must be paired with passion, and that a leader must not be afraid to get her hands dirty with her team.
McChrystal, retired U.S. Army general and co-founder of the McChrystal Group, received career-defining advice from Lt. Col. John Vines in 1988. McChrystal was already a seasoned soldier and Army Ranger, but Vines told him he should take a much different path and join the Joint Special Operations Command, where he would go from being in the field to leading those men. This eventually taught McChrystal that being a leader means doing what is best for the team (in this case, the Army), and that it is actually a position of servitude.
Keywell, co-founder of Lightbank and Groupon, remembers a high school tennis game that was going terribly. His coach took him aside and told him, 'Change the game. You're losing this one, so try another.' Keywell changed his style of play for the next set and ended up defeating his opponent -- it's been a business tactic of his in the face of adversity ever since.
Morrison, president and CEO of the Campbell Soup Company, learned to own the role of being a strong woman. When she was growing up in the 50s and 60s, her mother would tell her and her three sisters that 'ambition is a part of femininity,' which she learned to pair with networking on her path to success.
Edelman, a McKinsey partner, took a presence training course with The Acting Institute 18 years ago. His teacher had him sit on the floor and begin a bedtime story that he would tell to his kids; when she clapped, he would have to switch to a business speech. The exercise taught him that his presentations would fail to register if they were simply lists of data and analysis -- to engage his team and his clients, he needed to present everything as a story.
Whitehurst, CEO of Red Hat, was COO of Delta Airlines when it filed for bankruptcy. The unending meetings and press conferences made him frustrated and depressed, and when he was told to speak to a group of mechanics at an airport, he decided to launch into an honest speech about the sacrifices that would be made. He was surprised to discover that the mechanics were genuinely interested in the plans for the company, and soon he was asked to give the same speech to workers around the country. It taught him that people appreciate the straight truth, rather than having it sugarcoated.
Openshaw, president of Finect and a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, got a sage piece of advice from Husein Enan, CEO of Insweb: 'Be sure you take time for walks.' When her company, Women's Financial Network, was facing severe difficulties, she remembered Enan's bit of advice. By regularly removing herself from the office, she could relax her mind and eventually determined how to save her business during one of these reflective strolls.
Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, was told by an industrial psychologist that he would be a more effective leader if he placed people before results. He said he stopped seeing employees as uniform human capital, and instead took the time to address people's passions, desires, and fears, and to adjust leading them accordingly.
When Powers, co-founder and executive director of CODE2040, was in Stanford's Graduate School of Business, one of her professors wrote on the board in all caps, 'Do not mistake vagueness for compassion.' Powers remembered this later in her career when she realised that she would try to put a cheery spin on negative feedback to her employees when something didn't work ('I'm sure it will be better next time!'). She learned that her team could handle honesty, and that it led to better results for all of them.
Caan, serial entrepreneur and investor in People with Passion, learned a fundamental business tip from his father, who owned a leather garment manufacturing business. Caan's dad taught him that relationships with clients should be win-win situations, where you are open to negotiations in order to build a long-term relationship. It's a strategy that Caan has passed on to entrepreneurs who are gung-ho to get the cheapest prices possible from a supplier at the outset.
Orman, the motivational speaker, author, and CNBC host, tried to help her dad with his struggling deli business when she was a kid. People loved his sandwiches, but she thought he should halve the portions and increase the price. His response, 'I would rather have 50 per cent of something than 100 per cent of nothing,' taught her that restraint and patience in business can lead to even more money than compromising your identity.
Ruhle, an anchor at BloombergTV, began her career on Wall Street. She worked tirelessly for a promotion, but when a colleague she perceived as less worthy got the job, she turned to her mentor for guidance. His simple reply, that 'life's not fair,' served as a wakeup call that you can only be true to yourself and stay the course even though hard work isn't always properly rewarded -- because eventually it will be.
Salzberg, global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tomatsu Ltd., was in a rut around five years ago and turned to his mentor for guidance. He felt like his employees were not following his initiatives and he was growing increasingly frustrated. His mentor used a Superman metaphor that made him recognise the root of his anger and to stop it from clouding his judgment: 'Barry, lock your kryptonite away in a lead box.'
Shank, CEO and co-founder of HotelTonight, was once pulled aside after a board meeting by two investors, who told him that as a founder, he needed to trust his own judgment and not rely on consensus opinions. Shank said he still values advice from his team and board, but several times key decisions that were initially unpopular proved to be what was best for the company.
As president of LeanIn.org, Thomas is focused on empowering women in the corporate environment. She said that she got this drive from her dad, who always told her that, 'The harder you try, the luckier you get.' He taught her that even though emotional responses to challenges can't always be helped, they should never lead to self-doubt.
Kim, president of the World Bank, was just an intern physician at Brigham and Women's Hospital when Dr. Ted Alyea asked him to take a crack at determining how to treat a certain sick patient. Kim panicked, but Alyea told him: 'Give it a shot and if someone else has a better idea, just say, 'Thank you, that's a better idea.'' This simple lesson stuck with him and has helped him lead to this day.
Steinberg, president and COO of BuzzFeed, was a 16-year-old intern at Disney Imagineering when he visited the offices of Silicon Graphics with his team. When his boss noticed that he wanted to ask the SG executives questions but was too scared to, his boss told him, 'Jonathan, these people are not smarter than you, they just know things that you don't yet know.' Steinberg said that even if that wasn't completely true, it made him recognise the difference between intelligence and knowledge, which is necessary to grow in any business.
Rubel, chief content strategist at Edelman, got his favourite piece of advice indirectly, and from an unusual source -- the Latin rapper Pitbull. Rubel learned that since 2005, Pitbull has been featured on more than twice as many singles as his own. And though Rubel chose a lighthearted example, he said that learning to value the success of collaborations as much as the success of your own projects will lead to stronger, more beneficial business relationships.
When Bersin, the principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, was a young computer salesman, he made an error due to haste. His boss caught it and later told him, 'You are a very talented individual, but if you make small mistakes, people will not see the value you provide.' From that point forward, Bersin set aside work when he was exhausted, or found a way (coffee or exercise) to wake him back up in order to avoid making minor mistakes.
When McComb, CEO of Fifth and Pacific Companies Inc., succeeded a vice president at a prominent company earlier in his career, his predecessor left him a motivational note. It caught him up to speed on his role, but it also contained a piece of advice he still remembers: 'Never forget, you spin the fly wheel. It's all on you.' McComb said that it is easier than some may think to forget that a company's energy and drive rests on its leader, and he does his best to keep the wheel spinning.
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