The Best Advice I Ever Got

Posted in Living, Musings by mcarmen5 on 11/29/2009

At my fifth grade graduation, while my classmates went on stage to say that they wanted to become doctors, lawyers, teachers, or pilots, I said that I wanted to become the CEO of Microsoft (and a “part-time” journalist.  An idealist from the get-go, I wanted to travel and report on injustices around the world. Yep. One of those people).

My precocious declaration drew chuckles from parents in the audience, probably because it was such an odd thing for a 10-year old to say.  But when you’re the only child of a business-minded single mom, you end up playing mini personal assistant during summers and school holidays.  My job was to stalk stock prices and business news while Mom was at work… snacking on Cheerios and flipping channels between Nickelodeon and MSNBC or CNN.

My little gig exposed me to stories from around the world and to these people called “CEOs.”   Anything, I thought at the time, that had an acronym that sounded like “UFO” (random, I know) was cool enough for me.

But as I did research on these CEOs I came to appreciate their inspirational stories.  I especially admired the old-school pioneers, since they were often the ones who pulled themselves up by the bootstraps and had the best stories along the way.  There was much to learn from them.

Below are some of the best pieces of advice these CEOs were given (I’ve listed my favorites from the clipping).  They’re excerpted from an old Fortune magazine published back in March 2005.


“Respect people for who they are, not for what their titles are.”Herb Kelleher, Founder of Southwest Airlines

“Get good — or get out.” —  Peter Drucker

“Always do the best job you can do at whatever you’re assigned — even if you think it’s boring.”Meg Whitman, CEO & President of eBay

“What you need is a fundamental humility — the belief that you can learn from anyone.”Clayton Christensen

“Follow your own instincts, not those of people who see the world differently.”Sumner Redstone, CEO of Viacom


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