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The Greatest Minds in Business and Entertainment Share Their Career Advice


Every year, LinkedIn produce video interviews with some of the brightest people in the world, and 2016 was no exception. As part of our exclusive Influencer Interview series, we talked with top CEOs, authors, creatives and leaders about their upcoming projects, how they run their businesses and how they keep people motivated.


But one thing we really want to know is: how did they do it? How did these impressive people become who they are today? Who do they look up to, and what advice can they share with the rest of us?


Today we’re releasing our third annual Career Advice series, a compilation of previously unreleased conversations about the road to success, how to stay motivated, who to surround yourself with, and more. From Bill Gates’ advice to his daughter to Priyanka Chopra’s experience moving to a foreign country; Jeff Immelt’s race to the top of GE to Gwen Stefani’s commitment to authenticity, these are stories and words of wisdom to inspire you as we launch into 2017.


On growing within a company:



Indra Nooyi, CEO at PepsiCo


“If I go back through my entire career, anywhere where things were too complex, it always came to me. “Indra, you simplify it first. You tell us how to navigate through this extremely complex problem.” That was my skill then. It is today. Why can I do that? Somebody gives me a complex problem I become a student. I don’t care that I’m CEO, or president, or CFO. I become a student.”



Jeff Immelt, CEO at General Electric


“I guess one of my personal philosophies is I can always get better. I can always improve, I can always learn, I can always get better and people who embrace that, we’re gonna help them.”



John Watson, CEO at Chevron


“I found that, while Chevron is a big company, everybody tends to know everybody after a period of time because people move around, you see different opportunities, and pretty soon you know somebody in a work group. You know somebody if you want an answer to a question in a different area. And what happens is you build not just your human capital in terms of what you know about the business, but you also build relationships over time, and that enables you to be effective if you can work with people and bring the technology and other skills that you have to the job.”



Ray Dalio, CIO and Chairman at Bridgewater Associates


“Realize that the path to your success will come from knowing how to deal with not knowing rather than based on what you know. Gain that humility. Enjoy the mistakes. I was saying that pain plus reflection equals progress. If you start to view pain as a cue that something went wrong and that’s a puzzle, once you calm yourself down, not when you’re in the moment of pain, if you could as a discipline reflect on that pain, what caused that pain, what could I do differently, how would I handle it the next time? You can write that down and save that. That would be good.”


On who you surround yourself with and being aware:



Gwyneth Paltrow, actress and founder at goop


“We are an ideas brand, so I try to surround myself with incredibly creative men and women, mostly women, who inspire me and galvanize the process. I think internally we get to a place that is good, that I always feel good about. I really operate heavily on instinct, but I also like to ask advice. There are people in the world who are way smarter than I am who have been doing their jobs for way longer. I have access to a lot of those people, so I ask a lot of questions.”



Lee Daniels, director and producer


“I look for pushback. I don’t work around people; I don’t want people around me that are yessers. I want people to challenge me, because I know that it’s not me, it’s the village. I’m the one that, sadly, gets the credit for it, but everybody else should really. I’m taking everybody’s name on, your crew here, they’re you. I think that, for me, I am my crew.“



Mohamed El-Erian, Chief Economic Advisor at Allianz


“I needed my eyes open by my daughter who gave me a list of 22 things I had missed in that school year of hers. That was my wake up call. She had documented every single one of them. I found myself first trying to justify. I had a really good explanation for each. I had to go to Tokyo, I had to do this… Then I realized that these were, to quote her words, ‘her special moments’. I wish I had heard that earlier. I really wish I had heard it earlier. My suggestion to people is just increase your awareness, increase your peripheral vision.”


On the importance of education:



Hillary Clinton, Former U.S. Secretary of State


“I got out of law school with debt and I had one of these income-based repayment plans. That’s why I could go to work for the Children’s Defense Fund and make very little money, why I could teach law at the University of Arkansas Law School and make very little money, because I could afford to take a job I wanted to do to pay back my loans as a percentage of that income. I want everybody to have that same chance.”



Bill Gates, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation


“To the degree you like science, engineering and economics, pick as much of that as you have an appetite for because those are the agents of change for all institutions.”



Bob Greenblatt, Chairman at NBC Entertainment


“I’m a theater kid who ended up going to business school, but I also went to film school and I went to theater school so I sort of got it all and if somebody said you have to pick one or the other I would in half a second (say) I’m going to go do creative now if that’s the choice.“


On being yourself:



Priyanka Chopra, actor and entrepreneur


“For people who come like when I was twelve years and the advice that I would give myself is, don’t think that there’s something wrong with you. Because when you come into a new country, everyone’s different, everyone talks differently, everyone speaks differently. You have to accept your uniqueness and not think of it as baggage when you come into a new country.”



Gwen Stefani, singer-songwriter and fashion designer


“To be really clear about who I am and to be really owning the fact that we’re all unique, and to be proud of that, and not try to be something that you’re not. Then you’ll stick out because we’re all very, very different, but yet, all the same.”



Russell Simmons, music and business entrepreneur


“You have an idea and that idea is nothing. Your imagination is everything but hard work, dedication, resilience and faith will take it somewhere. I think that you have to have that dedication, resilience and faith in your business. It’s not something you just say and someone else goes and does it. Something you have to really invest in.”


On working your way up:



Lena Dunham, actor and co-founder at Lenny Letter


“I was ambitious and engaged with the process. That’s how I ended up making the two feature films that got me to my meeting with HBO, and to meeting Jenni and Judd, and having the experience that I’ve had.”


Jenni Konner, executive producer at Girls


“I do think, in general, if you want to be in television, it is a business, you are selling soap, it’s great to learn. My first TV job was with Judd (Apatow), and he is a guy who believes that if you’re a staff writer, which is the lowest writer you can be, you’re still in editing, you’re still in casting, you’re on the set for your episode. That’s a pretty rare occurrence. I didn’t realize that when I started working in television. That’s the way we run our show as well. I was able to learn everything from him. So if you can get in in that action that’s the way to go.”



Tory Burch, CEO at Tory Burch


“I spoke at Stanford a couple of years ago and I was amazed to hear that everyone wanted to be an entrepreneur, and I thought that was such an interesting thing to say because usually you find your passion and you become an entrepreneur by nature of what your passion is and figure that out, I think people need to pay their dues a bit and be open to learning I don’t think that everyone can all of a sudden have a start up, it’s good to get some experience under your belt.”

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