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40 Under 40: The Best Advice I Ever Got

Good advice really can come from anywhere. Members of this year’s 40 Under 40 class found bits of wisdom that significantly influenced their strategy and work-life balance from parents, interview candidates, and even Jay Z lyrics.

The lessons below on challenging yourself and communicating with others are helpful for building any career.

On relationships

Sophie Watts, 30 (No. 25 on 40 Under 40 2016)
President of STX Entertainment

CinemaCon 2016 - The State Of the Industry: Past, Present And Future And STX Entertainment Presentation Todd Williamson—Getty Images for CinemaCon

“My mother told me to be good to everyone. You’ll never regret it.”

Ryan Smith, 38 (No. 12)
CEO of Qualtrics

40Under40 profile Ryan Smith.2 Michael Friberg for Fortune

“Use money to help people, don’t use people to help you get money.” —Craig Christensen

Brad Katsuyama, 38 (No. 15)

Inside The IEX Group Inc. Office As Their Exchange Application Faces DelayChris Goodney—Bloomberg via Getty Images

“It was an interview with Lloyd Blankfein in the New York Times: ‘If you are good for your people, they’ll be good to you, and help you and help propel you up in your career.’ He put very succinctly something I have always believed. You can always achieve more with the loyalty and support of others who want to see you succeed.”

Anthony Tan, 34 (No. 17)
Group CEO and co-founder of Grab

Ian Teh

“My wife has been a pillar of support. My wife once jested, ‘Happy wife, happy life,’ which I’ve held close to my heart, as I wouldn’t be able to invest full-time into growing Grab without her support.”

For more on Anthony Tan, read Meet the Leader of Southeast Asia’s Most Popular Ride-Hailing Service.

On challenging yourself

Joe Zadeh, 35 (No. 22)
Vice president of product at Airbnb

40Under40 profile Joe ZadehCourtesy of Airbnb

“I once sent an email to my PhD advisor at Caltech, Niles Pierce, complaining about something difficult I was struggling with. I saved his response. He said, ‘I guarantee you 100% that the tough problems you do decide to confront and master will be the experiences you value the most when you look back.’ That quote has always stuck with me in the back of my mind and encouraged me to seek out difficult challenges and get even more excited when things get hard.”

Hooi Ling Tan, 32 (No. 17)
Co-founder of Grab

tan-hooi-ling-front-profileCourtesy of Tan Hooi-Ling

“My mentors at McKinsey advised that once in awhile, we should aim to do what makes us uncomfortable—you’ll only learn when you’re outside your comfort zone.”

Paul Judge, 39 (No. 33)
Co-founder of Luma and Pindrop Security

Beyond The Mic Hosted By Ryan LeslieMarcus Ingram—Getty Images

“Some of the best advice came from a Jay Z song where Notorious B.I.G. quoted Puff Daddy saying, ‘The key to staying on top of things is treat everything like it’s your first project… Like it’s your first day, like, back when you was an intern… Like, that’s how you try to treat things like, just stay hungry.’

Even though it is delivered on a rap album over a catchy beat, the message is relevant for anyone looking to push their limits and challenge themselves to achieve more.”

On business strategy

Katherine Power, 36 (No. 35)
CEO, Clique Media Group

Who What Wear Collection x Target LA Influencer LuncheonMike Windle—Getty Images for Who What Wear

“‘Sometimes you just have to get it done.’ This came from my friend Mark Patricof, who is an investor. I’ve heard him say this hundreds of times, and I’ve adopted it as my business mantra because it couldn’t be more applicable to being an entrepreneur. Sometimes you just have to get it done whether or not it’s the perfect time to do it. Don’t overthink things, don’t wait for the right person or staff to help you or for the right time to come, don’t wait for the outside funding or for a perfect business plan. Just go out there and do it, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks of your work. If you believe in it, that’s all you need in order to give it a try.”

Jeff Lawson, 39 (No. 6)
CEO of Twilio

40Under40 profile Jeff Lawson Benjamin Rasmussen for Fortune

“I’d rather own 10% of $1 billion than 100% of $1,000.” —from Kevin O’Connor, the co-founder of ad-tech company DoubleClick, an angel investor in one of Lawson’s early companies, and a fellow Michigan native.

Joey Levin, 37 (No. 11)

Audrey C. Tiernan

“I have two examples and both came from my dad. The first is you have to play a little bit of hard to get in life. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t chase deals or get things done, but if you have a questionably interested counterparty, pushing harder and harder is only going to achieve the opposite result. Psychologically, people want to feel victorious, as opposed to charitable. The second is don’t ever gamble with other people’s money.”

April Underwood, 36 (No. 34)
Vice president of product at Slack

40under40 profile April Underwood Benjamin Rasmussen for Fortune

“A former boss advised me to take time off after my time at Twitter to fully explore the options available to me. That time off led to me coming to Slack, and was absolutely the right call.”

For more on April Underwood, read Why April Underwood Joined Slack.

On leadership

40Under40 profile Mike Cannon Brooke and Scott FarquharMike Cannon-Brookes (right) and Scott FarquharCourtesy of Atlassian

Mike Cannon Brookes, 36 (No. 8)
Co-CEO and co-founder of Atlassian

“‘Build an organization where self-esteem comes from learning, not from being right.’ —from an interview candidate!”

Scott Farquhar, 36 (No. 8)
Co-CEO and co-founder of Atlassian

“Our chairman, Doug Burgum, once told me that whilst you need vision to lead, you must also have the humility to tap into the unique talents of your team. Be humble enough to approach each situation with the assumption that you’re not the smartest person in the room. He reminded me that humility is the best defense against arrogance, which is a CEO’s worst enemy. Arrogance can lead to complacency, and that fundamentally blocks innovation and urgency.”

Rachel Holt, 33 (No. 9)
Regional general manager of the U.S. and Canada at Uber

40Under40 profile Rachel HoltCourtesy of Uber

“A Stanford professor once told me, ‘Don’t mistake vagueness for compassion.’ He was telling us that it’s important to be direct and honest with your feedback. When you sugarcoat a hard message because you care about someone’s feelings, you actually do them more of a disservice; you’re better off making sure someone knows you care about their success and growth. I’ve found that when I’m fully transparent with my colleagues, managers, or team, even if uncomfortable at first, it’s led to the building of much stronger relationships and much more success for everyone over time.”

Morgan Vawter, 35 (No. 26)
Chief of analytics at Caterpillar

40Under40 profile Morgan Vawter Courtesy of Caterpillar

“One of my first bosses told me early on that if I had big aspirations for the legacy I wanted to leave, I needed to devote myself as much to becoming a great leader as developing my technical savvy.”

On success

Joel Gay, 38 (No. 13)
CEO of Energy Recovery

40Under40 profile Joel Gay Christopher Goodney—Bloomberg via Getty Images

“‘The ceiling of your success is an imaginary construct that should be demolished, rebuilt and elevated each day.’ —my father, Michael Gay Sr.

Matt Salzberg, 33 (No. 18)
CEO and co-founder of Blue Apron

40Under40 profile Matt SalzbergPhotograph by Christopher Lane

“My dad once told me that in order to be successful, you have to do what you love. If you don’t love your job, you won’t have the determination to work as hard as you need to succeed.”

For more on Blue Apron, read Meals in the Mail: How Blue Apron Got Started and Where It’s Heading.

Fidji Simo, 30 (No. 30)
Director of product at Facebook Live

40Under40 Fidji Simo Brad Wenner for Fortune

“‘Know you can do anything,’ from my mother and grandmother. Being instilled from such a young age with a sense of hope and possibilities was crucial in allowing me to take risks and believe in myself.”

For more on Fidji Simo, read We Discussed Facebook Live with the Executive Who Runs It.

From mom and dad

Brendan Bechtel, 35 (No. 1)
CEO of the Bechtel Group

Brendan BechtelMackenzie Stroh

“From my father, when I got my first superintendent assignment and was responsible for leading construction crews. He said, ‘Brendan, it’s pretty simple: if you use common sense and you are fair, that will solve 99% of the problems that you’ll encounter.'”

For more, read Meet Bechtel, the Private Company That Has Changed the Face of the World.

2016 Spirit of Achievement LuncheonCarly Zakin (left) and Danielle WeisbergBrent N. Clarke—Getty Images

Carly Zakin, 30 (No. 38)
Co-CEO and co-founder of TheSkimm

“From my mom: ‘What has to get done, will get done. Just breathe.’”

Danielle Weisberg, 30 (No. 38)
Co-CEO and co-founder of TheSkimm

“‘The worst thing someone can do is say no.” —my mom

Payal Kadakia, 33 (No. 32)
CEO and founder of Classpass

40Under40 Payal KadakiaCourtesy of Classpass

“My father told me that the only thing constant is change so always be adaptable. I am reminded of this on a daily basis.”

Kim Posnett, 38 (No. 16)
Managing director at Goldman Sachs

40Under40 profile Kim PosnettMark McQueen

“‘Do what you love. And, work hard to master it.” —my parents

Thomas Saueressig, 31 (No. 5)

40Under40 Thomas SaueressigIngo Cordes

“My father told me to be true to myself, be authentic and never forget my roots.”

Timeless wisdom

Marie Kondo, 31 (No. 36)
Author and founder of the KonMari Method

2016 Time 100 GalaMark Sagliocco—Getty Images

“‘Value what cannot be seen from the outside.’ This is the advice my grandmother continued to give me ever since I was a child.”

Jon Stein, Betterment, 37 (No. 27)
CEO and co-founder of Betterment

Jon Stein | BettermentBryan Derballa

“My grandfather would say, to those whom much is given, much is expected. That thought has allowed me to live a happier, more purposeful life.”

Moxie Marlinspike, 30s (No. 31)
Founder of Open Whisper Systems

40Under40 profile Moxie MarlinspikeJames Gilberd/Webstock

“You deserve nothing.” —Jean-Paul Sartre

Adam Grant, 34 (No. 28)
Professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School

40Under40 profile Adam GrantCourtesy of Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

“Argue like you’re right and listen like you’re wrong.” —Karl Weick

Alex Skatell, 30 (No. 39)
CEO and founder of IJReview

40Under40 profile Alex Skatell

“‘Measure twice, cut once.’ It came from working construction during my summers growing up but can be applied to so many things. Many of the biggest mistakes I’ve made were moving too quickly into something without fully appreciating all the possible outcomes.”