By Anne VanderMey
April 13, 2015

In her new book, Getting There: A Book of Mentors, Gillian Zoe Segal surveys a number of business stars for insights on how they got to the corner office. Here, some selected advice.


Warren Buffett: CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

Photograph by Gillian Zoe Segal

“You could have a 300 horsepower motor and get 300 horsepower out of it or you can get a lot less. The people who I see function well are not the ones with the biggest motors, but the ones with the most efficient ones.”


Matthew Weiner: Mad Men creator

Photograph by Gillian Zoe Segal

“When someone rejects your work, register the fact that they don’t’ like it, but don’t listen to the reason why. People feel that they have to say something, and they often give a capricious justification to keep from hurting your feelings.”


Michael Bloomberg: CEO, Bloomberg LP

Photograph by Gillian Zoe Segal

“Use the words ‘we’ and ‘us’ when referring to your business. Never use ‘I’ and ‘me.’ It sounds egotistical.”


Les Moonves: CEO, CBS

Photograph by Gillian Zoe Segal

“When you have to say no, do it nicely. We get pitched about five hundred television shows a year and only put four new ones on the air … but we want those same people to come back to us when they have a hit show.”


Jim Koch: Founder, the Boston Beer Co.

Photograph by Gillian Zoe Segal

“The Boston Beer Co. has a simple hiring standard: Never hire someone unless they will raise the average.”


Nitin Nohria: Harvard B-School Dean

Photograph by Gillian Zoe Segal

“Understanding your strengths and weaknesses can take a long time and can even be a painful process, but it’s one of the most important things to do in life.”


Marina Abramović: Artist

Photograph by Gillian Zoe Segal

“It’s important to put the idea of dying in your daily life because it helps you to appreciate your existence on this planet.”


Gary Hirshberg: Co-founder, Stonyfield Farm

Photograph by Gillian Zoe Segal

“Think on your own and question authority. Authority is a short-lived phenomenon.”


Stacey Snider: Co-chair, 20th Century Fox

Photograph by Gillian Zoe Segal

“It’s important to be able to present you ideas well, especially in writing.”


Helene Gayle: President and CEO, CARE USA

Photograph by Gillian Zoe Segal

“Social change is better achieved by being for something than against something.”

© 2015 Gillian Zoe Segal

An abbreviated version of this article appeared in the April 1, 2015 issue of Fortune.

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