It wasn’t all plain sailing for some of the most successful people on planet earth. A few things got in the way but above all, they wished they had known one or two things which could have made the long march easier. Discover what wise nuggets they wished they had grasped earlier on.

1. “You need to be patient. I was the president of a multinational corporation when I was 40, but I wanted to be there at 25! But you need experience, of course.” – Federica Marchionni, President of Dolce & Gabbana Inc.

Federica Marchionni started out in the technology sector and worked for Ericsson and Samsung. Moving into the luxury goods sector was a big change. She has learned to be patient enough to see through projects which have opened up new markets for Dolce & Gabbana. She has shown creativity and flair in nurturing high level relationships.

2.  “I wish that I knew how difficult it is to acquire a customer, get them to pay for your product and believe it’s as magical as you think it is.” – Neil Patel, co-founder of the analytics companies, Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics

Neil Patel underestimated how difficult it was to actually get customers and keep them. His advice now is that you have to experiment with where you will find your best customers. He recommends engaging with every potential customer on a daily basis which will give you invaluable insights on what they want.

3. “After working ourselves to a point of being burned out we realized that if we put in 40 x 2 hours the company didn’t move forward 2x faster.” – Nick Francis, CEO of Help Scout

Nick Francis now knows that long hours are less and less productive. They are not the key to success. He is still committed to making his parents proud of him at the age of 32! Other ambitions are to keep his customers and employees happy. He is thrilled to be able to provide companies with front-end web development products to help them provide top class customer service.

4. “I wish I would have known that the career I started in didn’t necessarily have to be the career I stopped with.”- Chachanna Simpson, business and life coach at Your Stellar Star.

Basically, your career path is not set in stone and that you can change direction, as Chachanna Simpson discovered. Her video interviews with successful women in all walks of life are an inspiration to help with life lessons.

5. “Controlling your expenses is one of the most crucial steps toward the kind of financial independence that you need in order to follow your dreams in the future.”- Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.

Jimmy Wales recommends care with expenses in setting up your dream project and becoming financially stable.  He advises that you should never get into debt to purchase a luxury item. The only exception would be a student loan, he says. Now, I wonder what luxury item he bought?

6. “We’re so programmed to walk well-trodden paths. But, we live life only once. So, rather than avoiding the risk of trying, avoid the risk of not trying.” – Tim Westergren, Co founder of Pandora Radio.

In a recent interview, Tim Westergren said that you cannot know what you are getting into and that is the risk factor. Follow your gut instinct even it means failure and you will have no regrets.

Pandora is unique in that it uses the Music Genome which delivers your personalized music tracks based on the 400 musical attributes of your initial selections. No surprise to learn that it took 30 experts and five years of work to complete. Tim Westergren has described this particular journey as ‘harrowing’.

7. “Listen more” – Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer at IDEO, global design consultancy.

Paul Bennett did a lot of talking when he was younger and it was all geared to show how clever he was. He regrets that and it is no surprise to learn that as his main job is to inspire people, he has now .learned the art of listening.  No prizes for guessing who thought up IDEO’s motto ‘Talk less, do more’!

8. “If I had one piece of advice to give my younger self it would be to stop doing what makes you unhappy and focus on what makes you truly happy,” – Philippe Courtot, CEO of Qualys., cloud security company.

Philippe Courtot advises people to do what you really love and not to be distracted by other people’s opinions and advice. He was actively involved in Thomson GR Medical advertising campaign to promote mammography.

In an effort to make the Internet a safer environment for business, he has invested half a million dollars of his own money in TIM (Trustworthy Internet Movement) to help protect cloud computing from cyber criminals.

9. “The canvas of your life is painted with daily experiences, behaviors, reactions, and emotions, you’re the one controlling the brush.” – Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah Winfrey wishes she had known all about the canvas of her life and how she could have controlled it when she was much younger. This is essential in getting rid of those terrible doubts, worries, anxieties and lack of self confidence. Being the artist of your own life means you can change the colors at will and erase something you have done badly or could do better.

10. “And above all, network, because networking is working. Your ability will only take you so far. Your relationships will take you the rest of the way.”- Denise Morrison, president and CEO of Campbell Soup Company.

Denise Morrison realized too late the value of networking and if she had her time over again, she certainly would have done things differently. She is among the top 100 of the World’s Most Powerful Women list. She is highly respected because of her innate talent in preserving an iconic brand and at the same time discovering new customer bases. 

What are the things you wished you knew when you were younger that could have helped you do better?  Let us know in the comments below.

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