What's the Best Advice You Ever Got?

Fortune magazine interviewed dozens of the most successful and influential people in the world – and asked them to share the best piece of advice they ever got. Here’s their wisdom that you can use in your own life to be happier and more successful:

  • First, a bit of insight from the former CEO of ABC Television, Thomas Murphy. He remembers once wrestling with an ethical dilemma. His father – a justice on the New York State Supreme Court – told him: “Doing the wrong thing is not worth the loss of one night’s good sleep.” Bottom line: If it’s going to make you feel guilty, that’s your conscience talking! So, don’t do it!
  • Next, here’s the best advice the CEO of PepsiCo ever got. Her name is Indra Nooyi, and her father once said: “Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent.” In other words, if you assume they’re out to criticize or sabotage you, you’ll be angry, defensive, and closed off. However, if you assume they want to be helpful and have something valuable to say, you won’t get defensive. You’ll be listening – and can maybe see things from a different perspective. This is especially helpful if someone’s angry. That’s when you need to take down your walls and listen the most.
  • How about something from the founder of SpaceX – the company that developed the Falcon Rocket? Elon Musk got his best piece of advice from Douglas Adams’ book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and it was:“Don’t panic!” Musk says if you let your emotions take over, they can cloud your decision-making process, and cause you to make decisions you’ll regret later.  
  • Finally, let’s hear from the chairman of The Estée Lauder Companies. Leonard Lauder got his best piece of advice from his mother, Estée Lauder: She believed that if you have something good to say, put it in writing. But if you have something bad to say, tell them in person. That way, you can make sure they don’t misunderstand what you’re trying to say – and you preserve their dignity by doing it in private.

Comment on this story