If clichés like “Follow your passion,” “Give 110%,” and “Be true to yourself” just aren’t cutting it for you, then we’ve got some fresh takes on how to get a head start on your career.
From “Don’t work too hard” to “Relax,” here’s some often unconventional career advice from some really successful people:
During his first commencement address as President of the United States, Donald Trump implored Liberty University graduates to 'challenge entrenched interests and failed power structures.'
'Remember this: Nothing worth doing ever, ever, ever came easy,' Trump said. 'Following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right.'
Trump told graduates being called an 'outsider' was, in fact, a good sign -- 'It's the outsiders who change the world,' he said.
'The more that a broken system tells you that you're wrong, the more certain you must be that you must keep pushing ahead,' Trump said.
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg says it's not enough to simply find your purpose in life -- most young people today already instinctively try do do that, he explains.
Instead, he told Harvard's graduating class of 2017 that the challenge for today's 20-somethings is to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.
'Purpose is that feeling that you are part of something bigger than yourself, that you are needed, and that you have something better ahead. Purpose is what creates true happiness,' he said.
To help the rest of the world find a sense of purpose, Zuckerberg says young people can do three things:
1. Do great things, no matter how scary this might seem. 'The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. But that can't keep us from starting,' Zuckerberg says.
2. Offer your money and time to help someone out. 'Let's give everyone the freedom to pursue their purpose -- not only because it's the right thing to do, but because when more people can turn their dreams into something great, we're all better for it,' Zuckerberg says.
3. Build community. 'We get that our greatest opportunities are now global. We can be the generation that ends poverty, that ends disease. We get that our greatest challenges need global responses too. No country can fight climate change alone or prevent pandemics. Progress now requires coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community,' Zuckerberg says.
Richard Branson's mother taught him that.
'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.'
'As Pattie Sellers of Fortune Magazine says, careers are not ladders but jungle gyms,' the Facebook COO wrote on Quora. 'You don't have to have it all figured out.'
Sheryl Sandberg recommends having a long-term, abstract dream to work toward in addition to a more concrete 18-month plan. The long-term plan allows you to dream big, while the short-term plan forces you to push yourself and think about how you want to get better over the next year and a half.
'Ask yourself how you can improve and what you're afraid to do,' she wrote, adding 'that's usually the thing you should try.'
In a 2010 interview with Yahoo, Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett said that the best advice he ever received was from Berkshire Hathaway board of directors member Thomas Murphy. Murphy had told Buffett:
'Never forget, Warren, you can tell a guy to go to hell tomorrow -- you don't give up the right. So just keep your mouth shut today, and see if you feel the same way tomorrow.'
During Berkshire Hathaway's 2015 shareholders meeting, Buffett also told a curious seventh-grader that the key to making friends and getting along with coworkers is learning to change your behaviour as you mature by emulating those you admire and adopting the qualities they possess.
'I don't think we talk about failure enough,' Rowling told Matt Lauer on NBC's 'Today' show. 'It would have really helped to have someone who had had a measure of success come say to me, 'You will fail. That's inevitable. It's what you do with it.''
Before Rowling became one of the wealthiest women in the world, she was a single mum living off welfare in the UK. She began writing about her now famous character, the young wizard, Harry Potter, in Edinburgh cafés, and received 'loads' of rejections from book publishers when she first sent out the manuscript, The Guardian reports.
'An exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded, and I was jobless, a lone parent, and as poor as it is possible to be in modern Britain, without being homeless ... By every usual standard, I was the biggest failure I knew,' Rowling said during a 2008 Harvard University commencement speech.
She went on to say that she considered her early failure a 'gift' that was 'painfully won,' since she gained valuable knowledge about herself and her relationships through the adversity.
The CEO of SoulCycle believes that new college grads should forget about doing what they think is expected of them and just get to work.
'Get a job and work hard,' she told The New York Times' Adam Bryant in an interview. 'You are going to learn a ton in whatever that job is, so don't stress too much about what it is or where it is. Just take a job and put your head down, work hard, raise your hand for anything anybody asks you to do.'
Melanie Whelan said it's important for young job seekers to live in the present rather than worry so much about where they're headed. The key is working as hard and learning as much as possible. When you do this, she said, good things will follow.
'A lot of people think in terms of 'should' -- I 'should' be a banker, I 'should' go to law school, I 'should' pursue what I studied in school,' she said.
This is a mistake, she told Bryant.
In a Business Insider article, Cal Newport, author of 'So Good They Can't Ignore You,' referenced Steve Jobs biographer Walter Isaacson, who recalled an exchange he had with Jobs shortly before he died.
Jobs reportedly told Isaacson:
'Yeah, we're always talking about following your passion, but we're all part of the flow of history ... you've got to put something back into the flow of history that's going to help your community, help other people ... so that 20, 30, 40 years from now ... people will say, this person didn't just have a passion, he cared about making something that other people could benefit from.'
In a LinkedIn article about the best advice she ever received, motivational speaker, author, and CNBC host Suze Orman wrote that success has often made her a target of nasty criticism 'entirely disconnected from facts.' At first these attacks made her angry, but she eventually learned to ignore them.
'A wise teacher from India shared this insight: The elephant keeps walking as the dogs keep barking. The sad fact is that we all have to navigate our way around the dogs in our career: external critics, competitors, horrible bosses, or colleagues who undermine. Based on my experience, I would advise you to prepare for the yapping to increase along with your success.'
In a LinkedIn post, The Huffington Post and Thrive Global cofounder Arianna Huffington revealed that she's often asked if young people pursuing their dreams should burn the candle at both ends.
'This couldn't be less true,' she wrote. 'And for far too long, we have been operating under a collective delusion that burning out is the necessary price for achieving success.'
She says that she wishes she could go back and tell her younger self, 'Arianna, your performance will actually improve if you can commit to not only working hard but also unplugging, recharging, and renewing yourself.'
Stewart Butterfield, cofounder of Flickr and chief executive of Slack, one of the fastest-growing business apps of all time, shared his best advice for young people with Adam Bryant of The New York Times:
'Some people will know exactly what they want to do at a very young age, but the odds are low. I feel like people in their early- to mid-20s are very earnest. They're very serious, and they want to feel like they have accomplished a lot at a very young age rather than just trying to figure stuff out. So I try to push them toward a more experimental attitude.'
The television personality, author, psychologist, and host of the 'Dr. Phil' show suggests that, before you submit any work, you should ask yourself if you'd be OK with it being the only thing someone used to form an opinion of you.
He told Business Insider that he learned this lesson during the second season of his show, when he was having trouble deciding if he should cover a particular topic for an episode.
His son said to him: 'You have to ask yourself this question: 'If someone is only ever going to see one Dr. Phil episode in their life, would you be OK with it being this one?' If the answer is 'no,' don't do it.''
McGraw says that he keeps this in mind now with all of his work, whether it's a book he's writing, an answer he gives in an interview, or an episode he does.
'Almost nothing you're worried about today will define your tomorrow,' 'Good Morning America' coanchor George Stephanopoulos
told personal-finance website NerdWallet. 'Down the road, don't be afraid to take a pay cut to follow your passion. But do stash a few bucks in a 401(k) now.'
Marla Malcolm Beck, cofounder and CEO of Bluemercury, said in an interview with Adam Bryant of The New York Times that she always reminds students that 'nobody ends up in the first job they choose out of college, so just find something that is interesting to you, because you tend to excel at things you're interested in. But just go do it. You have nothing to lose.'
Her other piece of advice: Go into tech.
'If you look at all the skill sets companies need, they involve a comfort level with technology,' she told Bryant.
T.J. Miller, comedian and star of HBO's 'Silicon Valley,' told personal-finance website NerdWallet that this is truly the formula to success: 'It worked for me, and I have mediocre talent and a horse jaw.'
What Alexa von Tobel, founder and CEO of LearnVest and the author of New York Times best-seller 'Financially Fearless,' means is that it's important to wake up excited for what's coming, dress the part, and always show up ready to go.
'As a new hire, you will likely find yourself in tons of new situations, and it's up to you to figure out how to navigate them.
'Remember that your manager is strapped for time, so know when to ask questions. Are you unsure of the objectives for an assignment? Asking her to clarify is crucial, since it's pretty hard to make the mark if you don't know where it even lies.
'On the flip side, avoid bombarding your manager with petty questions that could be answered by your peers or a quick Google search.'
The benefit of always having lunch plans with someone are twofold: You can get information that will help you 'think about your job differently,' and you also get on your companion's radar.
'It isn't about saying 'hi, what are we going to talk about, let's talk about sports,'' Setta said. 'It's about identifying the object of this lunch in your mind' and going in armed with 'a couple of things that you want to ask, and a couple of things you want to share.'
In a LinkedIn post, Deepak Chopra, popular author and founder of The Chopra Foundation, said that he wished he embraced the wisdom of uncertainty at a younger age.
'At the outset of my medical career, I had the security of knowing exactly where I was headed,' he wrote. 'Yet what I didn't count on was the uncertainty of life, and what uncertainty can do to a person.'
'If only I knew then, as I know now, that there is wisdom in uncertainty -- it opens a door to the unknown, and only from the unknown can life be renewed constantly,' he wrote.
Brian Chesky, cofounder and CEO of Airbnb, said in an interview with The New York Times' Adam Bryant that recent grads shouldn't listen to their parents.
He told Bryant:
'They're the most important relationships in your life, but you should never take your parents' career advice, and I'm using parents as a proxy for all the pressures in the world. I also say that whatever career you're in, assume it's going to be a massive failure. That way, you're not making decisions based on success, money and career. You're only making it based on doing what you love.'
In an interview with Adam Bryant of The New York Times, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg said she learned that trusting yourself is the key to success.
'In order to trust yourself, you have to have a relationship with yourself,' she told Bryant. 'In order to have a relationship with yourself, you have to be hard on yourself, and not be delusional.'
Rick Goings, CEO of home-products company Tupperware Brands, shared his favourite pearls of wisdom for young people with Business Insider. One of them was to be nice to everyone when you go on a job interview.
'I like to check with the driver, our receptionist, and my assistants on how the candidate interacted with them. How you treat others means the world!' he said.
Jacquelyn Smith contributed to a previous version of this article.
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