Top 10 Best Business Advice You've Ever Gotten

Last Updated Aug 31, 2009 7:49 PM EDT

If you look back over your career, it tells a story of opportunities pursued or missed, advice taken or ignored. Why choose certain paths and not others? What determines which advice to follow? Who knows, but one thing's for sure. Advice given at a time when you're receptive can change your entire career ... but only if you're listening.

In How Events Shape Your Career: Are You Paying Attention?, we received over 130 comments and emails from BNET readers offering advice that changed their careers. I plowed through them all to come up with the best of the best.

As for the criteria, I looked for advice that I believed would be most helpful to a broad range of business and management folks. I tried to avoid the obvious stuff we've all heard a thousand times, and also eliminated public quotes, since this is about personal advice, not pithy quotes from famous people.

There were dozens of great ones, but here's my top ten plus some amusing honorable mentions at the end (user names in parenthesis):
  1. "My needs don't motivate anyone." (Mcbsmith)
  2. "Once you're afraid to take a risk, you may as well call it a game and give up." (LauraSD)
  3. "You make choices based on what you believe in or what you fear. Guess which one makes you stronger?" (Frandv)
  4. "Relationships come first, business will always follow." (Bhoite)
  5. "Be like water - it will find its way no matter how big an obstacle is placed in front of it." (Aazer)
  6. "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." (alixr)
  7. "Don't believe your own press." (majorg)
  8. "Happiness is not what you get out of life but what you make of it." (tolexdee)
  9. "Life is not fair, don't expect it to be." (russlater)
  10. "Only through failure and pain do you really grow. So don't be afraid to take risks, make mistakes and fail ... just make different ones each time." (Wadehi)
I don't know why, but there were quite a few that reminded us to keep our big mouths shut (wish I'd heard these 20 years ago):
  • "I'm surprised that you think so little of him; he always speaks kindly of you." (wkb2texans)
  • "When you're in trouble it's likely because of something you said. Trouble rarely comes from doing." (neil3378)
  • "There's only two pieces of advice you'll ever need in this life. The first is 'Don't divulge everything you know.'" (I'mSpartacus)
There are two sides to every prophetic coin - the right side and the wrong side:
  • "You're good at math; I think computers will be big." (cajr)
  • "There is no future in computers." (Marsho)
This one wasn't about business, but still great advice about moderation:
  • "Always leave a party while there's still beer in the keg and boys (girls) still want to dance with you." (lstofft)
The only one I would add, from a CEO I worked for and respected:
  • "Do the right thing."
Thanks to everyone who took the time to share their nuggets of advice with the rest of us. By all means, keep them coming. Click here for the original post and all the comments.

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