11 of the Most Powerful Business People Share the Best Advice They've Ever Received
At some point in every successful person's career, they hear something somewhere that "clicks" and just makes sense. They will use this advice to build companies, manage people and make critical decisions.
ZocDoc's Cyrus Massoumi was told that the first 20 employees he hired would "make or break" his company. Neil Blumenthal, founder of Warby Parker, was told to always think about how much time you have before making a decision. Jacki Zehner, CEO of Women Moving Millions, learned that it's not about being "liked" — it's about being perceived as a team player.
All of the advice below comes from a new LinkedIn series titled "The Best Advice I Ever Got."
1. Pete Cashmore, founder and CEO of Mashable
"When you work with a talented team, taking risks and trying new things doesn't feel like 'taking risks,'" says Cashmore. "I have learned to not only trust those who I work with to see company efforts through, but to empower them to carry these projects, learn from missteps and iterate our company each step of the way."
2. Cyrus Massoumi, founder and CEO of ZocDoc
When launching ZocDoc, one of the company's early investors, Vinod Khosla gave Massoumi and his co-founders a bit of hiring advice:
"Your first 20 hires will make or break your company. Look for top-notch intrinsic qualities, and refuse to compromise. This simple maxim forever altered the course of ZocDoc’s development."
3. Jacki Zehner, CEO of Women Moving Millions
After 14 years at Goldman Sachs, Zehner became the youngest woman and first female trader to be made a partner of the firm in 1996.
During this time, the best advice she ever received focused on building relationships with colleagues: "It really matters that you not just manage up or just manage down, but that you invest in relationships in all directions. This is not about being 'liked,' but rather it is about being perceived as helpful and a team player."
4. Jon Steinberg, COO of Buzzfeed
While interning at Disney at the age of 16, Stein's boss told him that people aren't actually smarter than you, they just know things you don't know yet.
To this day, this piece of advice reminds Steinberg to always ask questions when he doesn't understand something instead of pretending to understand it.
"There is a difference between intelligence and knowledge, and openness to that fact makes you a learner with humility."
5. Stephanie Ruhle, anchor and managing editor of Bloomberg TV
At one point in her early career working on Wall Street, Ruhle went to her mentor, enraged that a colleague had received a promotion Ruhle thought that she should have gotten.
Her mentor response was extremely frustrating: Life's not fair. Here's why it was the best advice Ruhle ever received:
"It's of no use to try to figure out anyone's else's success or failures. Maybe the person who got that job had qualifications I didn't know about. Maybe I wasn't as good as I thought. Or maybe they had a massive sponsor behind the scenes that would help them no matter what. And like it or not, I didn't have that sponsor/fairy god-colleague who was elevating me. It doesn't matter if any of these things make sense. And it's not a good use of time to rationalize any of it. The answer to simply accept that life isn't fair, and do your best."
Basically, stop comparing yourself to others (this is extremely difficult in your 20s) and just be the best version of yourself. It's normal to be competitive, says Ruhle, but don't let it make you envious or spiteful.
6. Gary Shapiro, CEO of Consumer Electronics Association
When he was 19, Shapiro was working with his brother Ken and realized that everyone his brother managed seemed to like him. He asked Ken to reveal his secret and got the best advice of his life. Shapiro writes:
"He told me that everyone cares deeply about their family. If you recognize this, he said, you can treat people as loving fathers, mothers, children or grandchildren. Ask about their families, and they will see you as a caring person rather than just a boss. I tried it. It works."
7. Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social
The best advice Shih ever received came from her colleague and mentor Craig Weatherup, retired CEO of PepsiCo. Shih writes:
"Craig often reminds me that the keys to leadership are 'head, heart, and hands,' meaning you must have good business judgment and lead with passion and purpose, while not being afraid to roll up your sleeves and work alongside your people every day."
This advice may be why Shih decided to invest in GoldieBlox, a company that creates engineering toys for girls. Not only does Debbie Sterling, the founder and CEO have a noble purpose (heart) in closing the gender gap in STEM, she also spent a ton of time researching why there are so few girls in technology (head) before starting the company and is constantly in the trenches, visiting manufacturing sites and examining how girls react when they're playing.
8. Neil Blumenthal, founder of Warby Parker
A former Navy SEAL commander once advised Blumenthal that before making any critical decision, ask yourself one question: "How much time do I have?"
When you ask yourself this, you can spend the most allotted time for each decision whether it's a split-second or much longer. Either way, Blumenthal says he always makes a habit of pausing to think about how much time he has.
9. Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group
At 26, Huffington hit a tough spot when her second book was rejected by 25 publishers and she was depressed, anxious and out of money.
It was during this time that her mother's words kept ringing in her head, which said: "Darling, just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker. Don’t replay the bad, scary movie."
What this means is that we don't have to wait until we move or change jobs to change our lives. Huffington advises people to look around and initiate changes by not focusing on the bad and focusing on making opportunities for yourself.
10. Jennifer Dulski, president and COO of Change.org
While working at a nonprofit right out of college, Dulski had very little time for life outside of work. Her to-do lists were getting longer, but she was staying at the office late every night.
That was until she was told one day that her inability to balance work and life was also affecting her employees. Lynn Sorensen, former program officer at the national Breakthrough Collaborative and now the executive director at the TEAK Fellowship, told Dulski that as leader of her company, she needed to set the right example with her staff in understanding the difference between work and life and also the difference between work that's important and less so.
11. Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry
The best advice Ahrendts received was from a poem, which she says tells you everything you need to know about life. The poem, "The Desiderata" ( "Desired Things" in Latin) is by poet and lawyer Max Ehrman. Below are a few verses of how it begins:
"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans."
You can read the full poem here.