Isaac Newton once said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” For the great scientist, this means that all science is collaborative and new discoveries owe a lot to the work of great people. It also means that you are not alone when you try to achieve things in your career. You don’t need to figure everything out yourself. Listen to those who have come before you and set your sails according to their wind.
In this article, we have chosen 10 famous business leaders with top-notch career advice. Find someone who inspires you and take their advice — you’ll see further if you stand on their shoulders.
Your time is short. Don’t waste it – Steve Jobs
Jobs gave this advice to students in his 2005 Stanford commencement speech: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”
Bring your whole self to work – Sheryl Sandberg
In her commencement address to Harvard Business School graduates in 2012, Sandberg said, “Bring your whole self to work. I don’t believe we have a professional-self Monday through Friday and a real-self the rest of the time. It is all professional, and it is all personal”.
Do the best you can and ship – Guy Kawasaki
Guy Kawasaki told Menlo College graduates in 2012: “Don’t wait for perfection. Life isn’t perfect. Do the best you can and ship. Real people ship, and then they test and then they ship again. Then you wake up one day and you have something insanely great”.
It is impossible to live without failing – J. K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling said the following in her address to Harvard’s 2008 graduating class: “I was set free because my greatest fear was realized. Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all, in which case you fail by default”.
Say “yes” – Eric Schmidt
The long-time Google executive gave a speech at the University of California, telling graduates to get used to saying “yes.”: “Find a way to say ‘yes’ to things, even if it’s outside of your comfort zone. ‘Yes’ lets you stand out in a crowd. ‘Yes’ is a very tiny word that allows you to do very big things. Say it often”.
Let excellence be your brand – Oprah Winfrey
Winfrey spoke to Spelman College students in 2012, giving them the following advice: “Let excellence be your brand… When you are excellent, you become unforgettable. Doing the right thing, even when nobody knows you’re doing the right thing will always bring the right thing to you”.
You will get noticed if you really go for it – Warren Buffet
Warren Buffet gave the following advice for young women: “You do the same thing a male will do. You follow your passions. You find something you love. The truth is, so few people really jump on their jobs, you really will stand out more than you think. You will get noticed if you really go for it.”
Never protect the past – Ginni Rometty
The chairman, president, and CEO of IBM offered the following advice to Fortune Magazine: “Never protect the past. If you never protect the past, I think… you will be willing to never love [it] so much [that] you won’t let it go, either”.
It’s not how you start the race, it’s how you finish it – Steve Collis
Steve Collis, president and CEO of AmerisourceBergen relays the following advice given to him by his father: “It’s not how you start the race. It’s how you finish it”.
Don’t be fungible – Larry Summers
When Fortune asked Larry Summers, economist and former U. S. Secretary of Treasury, what advice he would like to give, he said, “Don’t be fungible. Have a distinct expertise or perspective. And make reversible errors. If you act and regret it, you can’t take it back. If you don’t act and regret it, you can often act.”
Make it great – Steve Jobs
John Lasseter, chief creative director of Walt Disney Animation Studios and executive producer of Frozen, often tells the story of the best advice he ever received. He was pitching a short film to Steve Jobs, who had one suggestion for him, “make it great.”
CC Photo by Martin Suhl