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
“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
“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
“Use the words ‘we’ and ‘us’ when referring to your business. Never use ‘I’ and ‘me.’ It sounds egotistical.”
Les Moonves: CEO, CBS
“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.
“The Boston Beer Co. has a simple hiring standard: Never hire someone unless they will raise the average.”
Nitin Nohria: Harvard B-School Dean
“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
“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
“Think on your own and question authority. Authority is a short-lived phenomenon.”
Stacey Snider: Co-chair, 20th Century Fox
“It’s important to be able to present you ideas well, especially in writing.”
Helene Gayle: President and CEO, CARE USA
“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.