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20 Famously Successful People Sum Up Their Work Advice

20 Famously Successful People Sum Up Their Work Advice

We all admire people who’ve succeeded in their field – successful people who we all admire. We want to be like them, be as rich as them.  Sometimes, we want to be them.  We want to know what they know, what they did, so we can reach that pinnacle where they are standing.

Here are 20 people sharing what they did to succeed:

1. Warren Buffet, Investor

“I don’t try to jump over 7-foot hurdles; I look for 1-foot hurdles that I can step over.”

The Oracle from Omaha is the 4th richest man in the world and probably the best investor of the century.  Buffet is actually known for his meticulous and deliberate analysis of any business he is interested in.

2. Oprah Winfrey, Media Mogul and Businesswoman

“Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.”

Oprah Winfrey, the Queen of All Media, is one of the most successful media personalities in the world.  You can bet she got all her achievements because of her perseverance.

3. Larry Bird, Professional Basketball Player

“I don’t know if I practiced more than anybody, but I sure practiced enough. I still wonder if somebody – somewhere – was practicing more than me.”

Larry Bird played for the Boston Celtics from 1979 – 1992. He is a 12-time NBA All-Star and an MVP for 3 consecutive years. Bird won 3 NBA championships and 2 NBA Finals MVP awards.

4. Tiger Woods, Professional Golfer

“No matter how good you get you can always get better and that’s the exciting part.”

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Tiger Woods is one of the most successful golfers and one of the highest paid athlete in the world. Woods has been the ranked 1 golfer for the most consecutive weeks and for the greatest number of weeks.

5. Stephen King, Author

“If you don’t want to work your ass of, you have no business trying to write well.”

Stephen King is one of the century’s most successful authors, with 54 novels, 200 short stories and 5 non-fiction books under his belt.  Over 350 million copies of his books have sold worldwide, many of them adapted into film and television movies.

6. Vince Lombardi, American Football Coach

“It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”

Vince Lombardi is one of the most successful NFL coaches in history, leading the Green Bay Packers to five NFL Championships. For him, getting back up is an achievement and a vital key to winning.

7.  Bill Gates, Businessman

“Never took a day off in my 20s. Not me.”

Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, is one of the richest people in the world, has been since 1995. His work ethic while building Microsoft one of the reasons the company is a leader in computer technology.

8.  Twyla Tharp, Ballet Dancer and Choreographer

“Be aware of what distract you and give it up for a while.”

Twyla Tharp is a successful American ballet dancer and choreographer.  She has been awarded with 2 Emmys, a Tony, 19 honorary doctorates and various other awards, recognizing her achievements in dance.

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9. Larry Page, Computer Scientist

“Always deliver more than expected.”

Larry Page is an engineer and computer scientist who co-founded Google.  He is currently Google’s CEO.

10. Mark Cuban, Businessman and Investor

“Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.”

Mark Cuban is known as the current owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.  He is a businessman and investor, who cashed in early on the first tech boom.

11. Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric

“Be candid with everyone.”

Jack Welch was the CEO and Chairman of the Board of General Electric from 1981 to 2001.  During his tenure, he increased GE’s market value from $12million to $280 billion today.

12. Stan Lee, Comic Book Writer, Editor and Publisher

“I try not to do anything that’s too close to what I’ve done before. And the nice thing is we have a big universe here. It’s filled with new ideas.”

Stan Lee is a comic book writer, editor, publisher, and former President and Chairman of Marvel Comics.  He co-created many of Marvel and DC Comics’ biggest characters like Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, X-Men, Silver Surfer and many more.

13.   Wayne Gretzky, Professional Ice Hockey Player

“I wasn’t naturally gifted in terms of size and speed; everything I did in hockey I worked for…”

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Wayne Gretzky is a former professional ice hockey player and is considered the greatest hockey player ever.  He leads in the NHL in number of assists and point-scoring, and is the only player to have over 200 points in one season.

14. Neil Gaiman, Author

“As an author, I’ve never forgotten how to daydream.”

Neil Gaiman is an English author of novels, comic books, graphic novels and short stories.  He has been the recipient of many awards including the Newbery and Carnegie medals.

15.  Donald Trump, Businessman

“…listen to your gut, no matter how good something sounds on paper.”

Donald Trump is a successful businessman, investor and celebrity. He is the chairman of The Trump Organization and he built his money on real estate, hospitality and entertainment.

16.  Richard Branson, Businessman and Investor

“As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation. I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back.”

Richard Branson is a businessman, investor and the founder of Virgin Group, a conglomerate that is made up of more than 400 companies.  Branson is the 7th richest citizen of the United Kingdom.

17.  Simon Cowell, Producer and Talent Scout

“The secret of my success is that I make other people money.”

Simon Cowell is a producer, talent scout and celebrity who rose to fame as a judge on talent shows like American Idol and Britain’s Got Talent. Some of the talents under him include One Director and Il Divo. He is one of the richest persons in the British music industry.

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18.  Steve Jobs, Inventor and Entrepreneur

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”

Steve Jobs is an inventor, businessman and the co-founder of Apple, Inc. He was the CEO of Apple, Inc and under his tenure saw the development of the iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone and the iPad, some of the most successful devices in the world today.

19.  Madonna, Entertainer

“I’m always looking for something new: a new inspiration, a new philosophy, a new way to look at something, new talent.”

Madonna is one of the most successful artists in the world today. She is a singer, songwriter, actress and businesswoman, known for reinventing herself and her music throughout the years. She has sold more than 300 million records worldwide and is the best-selling female recording artist of all time.

20. Meryl Streep, Actress

“I think the most liberating thing I did early on was to free myself from any concern with my looks as they pertain to my work.”

Meryl Streep is one of the greatest film actors of all time. She is a three-time Academy Award winner, eight-time Golden Globe winner and was awarded the 2010 National Medal of arts and the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Featured photo credit: 04222014 – Success Boot Camp Graduation at PCP/US Department of Education via flickr.com

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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