Advice from Successful People - Secrets to Success
15 successful people share their best pieces of advice.
Not to Sweat the Small Stuff
The thing that's grand about spending your time thinking about the universe is that it makes you feel insignificant. I don't mean that in a bad way. If you understand that we've now discovered entire solar systems that contain planets similar to Earth, and that those are just the ones we know about, since most of the stars we've looked at are within about 300 light- years of Earth and the distance to the center of our galaxy is nearly 100 times that—then you realize that the laundry you've left undone and the dumb thing you said yesterday are about as significant as slime mold.
—Alyssa Goodman, PhD, professor of astronomy, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
A therapist once told me something that's as true now as when I first heard it: "You can only go as fast as the slowest part of you can go."
—Singer Bonnie Raitt, who took a seven-year hiatus from the studio before releasing her new album, Slipstream
The Secret to Trying New Things
People say it's gross that I eat grubs and goat liver, but if you haven't tried it, how do you know? Our brains tell us lies, and if we listen, we cost ourselves surprises. When trying something new, cast off your fear and expectations.
—Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods America
Simple Ways to Look Polished
Start with a great haircut, neat nails, and well-shaped eyebrows (if eyes are the windows to the soul, eyebrows are the frames). Invest in a tailor—and in a few no-fail items that will help you look pulled together: a crisp white shirt, a pencil skirt, a great-fitting shift dress (just add shoes and go!), a tissue-weight scarf, and the perfect jacket. Whether it's a black blazer with a structured shoulder and nipped-in waist or a little leather jacket that looks great over anything, the right jacket projects confidence. And isn't that what polished really means?
—Adam Glassman, O Creative Director
Know When to Quit
After my first book was published in 2000, I spent two and a half years writing a novel. But it never felt right. I didn't even name it—it was the poor, misshapen beast child I kept hidden under my bed. Then I showed it to my agent. "None of the things you do well are in evidence here," she said. I was devastated, then relieved: I had failed, and now I could stop. If you don't feel a shiver of excitement or fear, if there's no emotional risk involved, let it go. You can't discount how hard it will be to leave your bad marriage or stop writing your bad book, but if you're unhappy, nothing can get better as long as the status quo stays the status quo.
—Elissa Schappell, author of
Blueprints for Building Better Girls
How to Delegate
Make certain the people around you have good values, good judgment, and are loyal. Allow them to impress you but be sure they're comfortable coming to you for feedback. Most important, hire people smarter than you!
—Ivanka Trump, executive VP, Trump Organization; principal of Ivanka Trump fashion and accessories lines
Fake It Till You Make It
The philosopher William James believed that acting a certain way could make you feel that way. hundreds of experiments have proved him right. a clark university study showed that smiling made people feel happier. (for best results, smile wide and hold for 20 seconds.) at the university of rochester, when researchers gave subjects an unsolvable problem, those who folded their arms in a stubborn pose persevered nearly twice as long as others. and a study in Singapore revealed that clenching your fist powers
your willpower. Try it next time you're avoiding french fries.
—Richard Wiseman, PhD, psychology professor at the UK's University of Hertfordshire and author of the forthcoming book The As If Principle
How to Laugh at Life
The tap water hits a spoon in the sink and sprays you. You pull a window shade and it just keeps going and going. You can't roll up a garden hose in any dignified way. You have to become a connoisseur of these events—"Wow, look at that, that's great." You have to hope that a higher power is saying, "That was a good one!" And that you're sharing the divine pleasure it's taking in your misfortune.
—Ian Frazier, author of The Cursing Mommy's Book of Days
Not to Waste Time at Your Computer
Disable e-mail sounds. That ding!isa Pavloviancueto procrastinate, and once you're distracted, it takes 15 minutes to return to being productive.
Create a second log-in, with a different name, theme, and background than your personal account. Use only this one when you're working.
, a program that will block you from going online for whatever length of time you set.
—Piers Steel, PhD, author of The Procrastination Equation
Make Yourself Heard
I had just graduated college, my loans were coming due, I was working two jobs and counting every penny. Five dollars wasn't a ton of money, but it was enough to piss me off. Having signed petitions on change.org before, I knew it was a good platform. Then I went on Twitter to direct people to my petition. Maybe they weren't concerned about the fee for themselves, but when they saw me, they saw their granddaughter or niece. It's important to connect with people on a visceral level. If there's an issue you care about, start locally: Write a letter to your newspaper or talk about it with your friends and neighbors. Then find others who share your beliefs. As cheesy as it sounds, working together is the only way to achieve anything.
—Molly Katchpole, creator of an online petition that received more than 300,000 signatures and pressured Bank of America to drop a proposed $5 debit card fee
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.