15 Things Really Successful People Want You to Know

Here's what you should know about looking polishing, productivity and spotting a good opportunity you should take.

Keep the Faith

The draft lasts seven rounds, and I knew I wasn't going to be in the top 100 guys, but I was sure a team would call and say they wanted me by early in the sixth round. When the sixth round ended and my phone still hadn't rung, for a second I thought, "This is the worst day of my life." But I'd had a pretty cool college career, and I'd done well in tryouts. Plus, my girlfriend and my family were right there all day telling me I was a great player. I realized then that you can't be successful on your own; you need a supportive loved one and some spiritual guidance. I knew I was meant to play football, and if you know your purpose, and you're patient, the ball will eventually bounce your way.

—Chandler Harnish, Indianapolis Colts draft pick and 2012's Mr. Irrelevant, the name given to the last of the 253 players selected in the NFL draft

How to Spot a Good Opportunity

A lot of people ask me how I knew Mad Men or Breaking Bad would make great TV. I knew because when I read those scripts, I felt something. I didn't do any market testing or focus groups—I just asked myself, Would I want to watch this? When you're weighing an opportunity, make the question that simple: Do I really want this, or am I doing it for the money or the prestige or because I think I should? It can't just be about those things. It has to make you feel good, too. and by the way, if opportunities aren't knocking, you can make your own. When I was looking for work several years ago, I took everyone I knew in New York, where I'd just moved, to dinner or drinks or tea. I explained that I was open to anything. Six months later, one of those dinner dates called about a possible job at AMC. If I hadn't put myself out there, that never would have happened.

—Christina Wayne, former senior VP at AMC, current president of Cineflix Studios, and an executive producer of the new BBC America series Copper

The One Thing to do If You're Starting a Business

Scout a business space the same way you would a home—by studying the neighborhood. Get to know local business owners and pay attention to what kinds of people walk by and when. If you're opening a coffee shop where no one will see it, you won't succeed.

—Tabatha Coffey, salon owner and host of Bravo's Tabatha's Salon Takeover

Win the Fight

It's always more effective to be civil.

—Sandra Fluke, former law student whose congressional testimony in favor of birth control insurance coverage prompted Rush Limbaugh to call her a "slut" and a "prostitute" on his nationally syndicated radio show

Adapt When Your Life Takes a Turn

You can't move very fast if you're carrying a lot of baggage. I try to remind myself of that every day. It's easy to get weighed down by bad stuff from your past— an accident, a difficult breakup, family issues, whatever. But if you're tied to the past, you're not going to get very far. When I was lying in the hospital after the accident, my surgeon, Dr. DeLong, handed me some magazines about the Paralympics and told me to think about it. I had no idea what it would take to be an amputee, let alone a sprinter, let alone a gold medalist. But I told myself, "This is your new dream. Here it is. Take the first step."

—April Holmes, Paralympic gold medalist in the 100-meter dash. In 2001, at age 27, the former college track star lost her left leg from the knee down in a train accident.