Love them, hate them, or roll your eyes when you see them make news for ridiculous things, famous people have something in common: they’re good at what they do, or you probably wouldn’t know who they are. And while you probably shouldn’t, say, take medical advice from George Clooney or legal advice from Justin Timberlake, it’s worth seeing what kind of celebrity advice they have to offer. As we look to the new year with its blank slate, let’s also look at how some household names in business, Hollywood, and politics approach career, success, and life balance.
On Finding Purpose and Direction
One of the first things you should do in the new year is figure out what you want your goals to be. To do that, it’s important to figure out what motivates you, and what you really want to be doing with your professional life. A new year is a chance to take a look at what motivates you now, because that may not be the same thing that motivated you in the past. Take the opportunity to look at who you are now, and what forces are moving you forward.
"Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion. —Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
“’May the Force be with you’ is charming but it’s not important. What’s important is that you become the Force—for yourself and perhaps for other people.” —Harrison Ford, actor
On Being Your Own Biggest Asset
Not to get all sappy on you, but your best ally in this process is, well, you. Networks are important, but as you get ready to ramp up your career in the new year, make sure you’re putting enough value and emphasis on the skills, experience, and expertise that you already have. 2017 should be a year of moving forward with confidence, not stalling out due to self-doubt.
“Don’t discount yourself, no matter what you’re doing. Everyone has a unique perspective that they can bring to the world. Just have faith in yourself and trust yourself.” —Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
On Achieving Success
Success is not an instant result, no matter who you are or what you do. People who achieve that success have gotten there because they stuck it out, and threw everything they had at the process. CEOs, entertainers, thinkers…the version of “success” is different for each of them, but they have one thing in common: effort + time.
“When I was 15, I left school to start a magazine, and it became a success because I wouldn’t take no for an answer.” —Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin Group
“There’s no such thing as overnight success. That’s my concern with a show like American Idol. It encourages the false belief that there’s a kind of magic, that you can be ‘discovered.’ That may be the way television works, but it’s not the way the world works. Rising to the top of any field requires an enormous amount of dedication, focus, drive, talent, and 99 factors that they don’t show on television. It’s not simply about being picked. Which, by the way, is why very few of the anointed winners on American Idol have gone on to true success. Most have flamed out and gone away. That should tell us something.” —Malcolm Gladwell, author
“Success is just a war of attrition. Sure, there’s an element of talent you should probably possess. But if you just stick around long enough, eventually something is going to happen.” —Dax Shepard, actor
"Do the work. Out-work. Out-think. Out-sell your expectations. There are no shortcuts." —Mark Cuban, entrepreneur
On Why You Should Never Give Up
If you give up on your goals because you’re seeing too many challenges or it feels too hard, no one is going to run up to you, shouting, “come back! Just kidding, here’s what you want.” Once you figure out what you want to achieve and start devising your plan to get there, it’s crucial to stick to that, whether things get tough or are taking longer than you thought they would. You’re tougher than you think you are, so don’t let setbacks deter you from those bigger goals.
“I’m very glad my mother didn’t let me quit piano lessons at age 10. She said I wasn’t old enough or good enough to make that decision, and she was right. I remember at the time I was shocked. I did not like that my mother said those things to me. But when I got a chance to play with Yo-Yo Ma or more recently with Aretha Franklin, I thought, I’m really glad she said what she did.” —Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State
On Seizing Opportunities
In 2017, be ready to size up and grab potential opportunities. Do research, talk to people in your network, and always keep an eye out for new jobs, new skill-building opportunities, anything that can help you along the way. If you’re not proactive, you’ll either miss potential opportunities entirely, or watch them slip right by you and turn into someone else’s chances.
“People ask, ‘What’s the best role you’ve ever played?’ The next one.” —Kevin Kline, actor
“Put your head down and work hard. Never wait for things to happen make them happen for yourself through hard graft and not giving up.” —Gordon Ramsay, chef, entrepreneur, and TV personality
“If I can’t make it through one door, I’ll go through another door—or I’ll make a door. Something terrific will come no matter how dark the present is.” —Joan Rivers, comedian
“I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.” —Oprah Winfrey, entrepreneur and world dominator
On Why It’s Okay to Fail
Nobody likes failure—but it’s inevitable at some point. You know that song “Everybody Hurts,” by R.E.M.? The career version of it is, “everybody flops, sometimes.” It’s going to happen, it’s going to hurt, and you should be ready to take that failure and learn from it so you can keep moving forward. Don’t let minor failures derail your year of progress.
“Failure is not the opposite of success; it’s a stepping stone to success.” —Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post
“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged.” —J.K. Rowling, author
On Overcoming Career Obstacles
2017 will have obstacles. That’s non-negotiable. But when you’re faced with those challenges, don’t let them stop your progress. Instead, ask yourself how they can factor into your journey.
"When faced with sexism or ageism or lookism or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question, 'Is this person between me and what I want to do?'" —Tina Fey, comedian and writer
On Why Being a Lone Wolf Doesn’t Work
If you think your 2017 journey is all about you, you’re mistaken. You are the most important piece of it, yes. But being a good team member, and knowing when to rely on others is a skill that you should start practicing as early in the year as possible. It’s not just that others can help you directly (although many can); it’s just as much learning what you can from others to apply to your own professional life.
"What I have discovered, is this: You can't do it alone. As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people's ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life." —Amy Poehler, comedian and writer
“I look for a positive attitude and are they easy to work with, are people gonna like working with them? It's very important to like the people you work with, otherwise life [and] your job is gonna be quite miserable.” —Elon Musk, entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX
"The best advice I ever got is: You’re the average of the five people you associate with the most.” —Tim Ferriss, author and entrepreneur
On Achieving Balance While Pursuing Your Goals
If you have some aggressive professional goals in 2017 (new job, promotion, new approach to your existing job), don’t let those crowd out everything in your life. Making room for your personal growth, development, and happiness is just as essential. This may involve some creative thinking and sacrifices, but when you get to the other side of 2017, you don’t want to be thinking, “I wish I’d made time for things that make me happy.”
“Believe you can do anything. This is important for everyone and especially for women. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t have both a meaningful professional career and a fulfilling personal life. When you hear someone say you can’t do something, know that you can and start figuring out how. Ask yourself, ‘What would I do if I weren’t afraid?’” —Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook
As you gear up for 2017 and the banner career year you’re going to have (whether you’re looking for new opportunities or working on growing in the role you already have), think about these bits of advice given by people who’ve reached the top of their fields. And more importantly, think about how you can make these recommendations work for you, and seize your next great opportunity!
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