Why You Should Pick Up Next Time Mom Calls (and More Great Advice)

February 26, 2013

It’s not always easy to take tough advice, particularly when a family member doles it out. But testimonials from 70 of the most accomplished people in business suggest that letting the (sometimes harsh) truth sink in and heeding your elders could be secrets to success.

In the latest series of original posts from LinkedIn’s Influencers, “The Best Advice I Ever Got,” top professionals in banking, real estate, public relations, energy, technology and travel (to name just a few industries), shared the nuggets that have guided their careers.

The authors of these stories incorporated advice into their lives in unique ways, but strong parallels emerged. Nearly a third of them carry around wisdom from an older family member –Richard Branson’s mother to Martha Stewart’s father, Deepak Chopra’s parents and T. Boone Pickens’ grandmother imparted sage words that shaped them.

Sometimes it’s not our parents, but our idols who give us words to live by; through mentorships, close working relationships or even brief encounters. Shai Agassi, founder of A Better Place, never forgot what President Bill Clinton told him at a conference. Jules Polonetsky, Director of The Future of Privacy Forum, learned about time management from his former boss, Senator Chuck Schumer. And former GE Chairman Jack Welch taught Beth Comstock, the company’s CMO, a lesson about her conversational style by hanging up on her.

A third type of adviser emerged in these stories: Bosses – angry ones. Getting scolded by a superior seared lessons into the minds of a host of Influencers. In some cases, the criticism was constructive, like when Craigslist founder Craig Newmark’s former boss chided him for being a know-it-all. But in others, it was downright nasty, as in the college faculty member who gave Citi Managing Director Linda Descano a brutal assessment of her career potential. In every case, however, Influencers transformed what could have been a humiliating moment into an education.

One last place you might want to check for the words that will change your life: Your bookshelf. A 1986 business book changed the way Steve Anderson executive editor of the Anderson Agency Report, thought of entrepreneurship. A collection of Talmudic Jewish wisdom has enduring value for Michael Fertik, founder of Reputation.com. And Herb Greenberg’s whole life changed after reading the words of an aerobics pioneer.

The 70 articles in this collection range from touching to funny, and you’re bound to come away with a lot to think about. Find all of the posts in this addictive series here. What’s the best advice you ever received, and how did it change you? Share it with us on our LinkedIn Company Page or tweet it to @LinkedIn with hashtag #bestadvice.

Best Advice I Ever Got