Useful career advice from some of the most successful people on the planet

18 Oct 2019
By Unite Students, Staff writer at The Common Room

Success is measured differently by each and every one of us. To some it may be getting a good grade in a piece of work, while to others it might be launching a business or raising a family.

However you define success right now or in the near future, there are lessons to be learned from people who have gone before. To help you along your way, we’ve pulled together useful advice from some of the most successful and well known people on the planet.

Richard Branson - Founder of the Virgin Group

What he said: “I'm often flabbergasted by the amount of time some people waste dwelling on their past failures, rather than directing that energy into new projects. My mother always taught me never to look back in regret, but to immediately move on to the next thing.”

What you can take away from it: Everyone makes mistakes or gets things wrong in their life, but the important thing is to learn from it and move on. You might have flunked an exam or not quite hit a target with your coursework, but there’s nothing stopping you from using it as one of life’s lessons and doing a great job on your next challenge.

J.K. Rowling - Author of the Harry Potter series

What she said: “It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all. In which case, you fail by default.”

What you can take away from it: You shouldn’t be afraid of failing. Be bold and confident with your ideas. Aim high and step outside of your comfort zone. If you don’t, and you hold back, you could miss out on important lessons or achievements that could shape your near future.

Eric Schmidt - Former CEO and executive chairman of Google

What he said: “Say yes to invitations to a new country, say yes to meet new friends, say yes to learning a new language, picking up a new sport. Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job. Yes is how you find your spouse and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means that you will do something new, meet someone new, and make a difference in your life, and likely in others’ lives as well.

“Yes lets you stand out in a crowd, to be the optimist, to stay positive, to be the one everyone comes to for help, for advice, or just for fun. Yes is what keeps us all young. Yes is a tiny word that can do big things. Say it often.”

What you can take away from it: There are opportunities around every corner and all it takes to make the most of them is one simple word: yes. At university you’ll find hundreds of potential friends, chances to advance your employability and, most important of all, opportunities for new and wonderful experiences. Don’t be afraid to say yes.

Bear Grylls - Adventurer and TV presenter

What they said: “Don’t shy away from the hard times. Tackle them head-on, move toward the path less trodden, riddled with obstacles, because most other people run at the first sign of battle. The storms give us a chance to define ourselves, to distinguish ourselves, and we always emerge from them stronger. The other key is to be kind along the way. Kindness matters so much on that journey of endeavor. It is what separates the good from great.”

What you can take away from it: Your uni journey probably won’t be entirely smooth. There will be obstacles along the way for you to tackle. Stick to your task, battle through, learning along the way, and come out the other side stronger and more experienced. It’ll stand you in good stead for the challenges to come in life and, if you do it with a smile, you’ll find people will be there to help you through.

Michelle Obama - Author, lawyer and former First Lady

What she said: “We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”

What you can take away from it: University can be a very challenging time with studies, hobbies and the pressures of an active social life, but it’s important to look out for number one. Be sure to fit some chillout time into your schedule, whether that’s watching a movie, reading a book or going for a walk. Look after yourself and stay fresh.

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Staff writer at The Common Room