Here’s the Advice That Helped Fortune’s 40 Under 40
The members of Fortune’s newest 40 Under 40 class have all reached impressive heights – but they didn’t get there alone. Many cite support from mentors, investors, friends and family as key to their climb.
So we asked them to share with us the best advice they’ve ever received. As you’ll see, some of the wisdom they chose to pass along is squarely aimed at succeeding in business. But much of it is advice on just living life – becoming better parents, more satisfied workers, and happier people.
Check it out, and prepare to be inspired.
Xu Li, 36
Cofounder & CEO, SenseTime
When you don’t know something, you should learn to listen and be humble.
— My father
Joey Levin, 38
You can never build credit. Only expectations.
— My Grandpa Jerry
John Zimmer, 34
Cofounder & President, Lyft
Stay true to your values, continue to put people first, and business success will follow.
— Howard Schultz
Lynn Jurich, 39
Cofounder & CEO, SunRun
The best personal advice I’ve received is that all people and all circumstances are my allies. I’ve committed to this philosophy and pairing it with a morning meditation session allows me to get into the mindset each day to regard every interaction as an opportunity to learn. It’s also made me more comfortable with risk taking and “failure.”
— A leadership coach
Christina Tosi, 36
Founder & CEO, Milk Bar
Just be yourself!
— My mother
Baiju Bhatt, 33
Cofounder & Co-CEO, Robinhood
Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
— Steve Jobs, Stanford commencement speech 2005
Anjali Sud, 34
Make decisions based on your strengths, not your fears.
— My dad, who is an entrepreneur in my hometown of Flint, Michigan
Marc Stad, 39
Founder & Partner, Dragoneer Investment Group
There are two types of companies in this world – amazing ones and everything else. Why spend time on the everything else?
— My mentors at the Investment Group of Santa Barbara
Brian Armstrong, 35
Cofounder & CEO, Coinbase
The greatest risk is not taking one.
— I can’t remember where I saw this first (I think I read it in a book). Most people have dreams about doing something impactful, but they dramatically overestimate the downsides and never get started. My biggest fear became living my whole life without ever really attempting the things I wanted, so I just got started.
Katrina Lake, 35
Founder & CEO, Stich Fix
My friend Leslie Silverglide who runs Mixt gave me a parenting tip I use all the time – to give your toddler choices. “Do you want to wash your hands in the bathroom or the kitchen?” (This) reduces the debate on if the handwashing is happening at all, and makes my toddler feel empowered.
Sumaiya Balbale, 37
VP of E-Commerce, Mobil and Digital Marketing, Walmart
The best advice I received came early in my career from a boss and mentor in advertising. She told me to always be myself. I had just come out of a client strategy meeting where I was one of the only women, and the only woman of color. I asked her how I should change my style so I could be heard in that context. She cautioned me against unintentionally becoming disingenuous or losing myself in pursuit of impact and encouraged me to find a persuasive voice and style that was authentically mine.
Nate Nanzer, 39
Commissioner, Overwatch League
About ten years ago I had a brief moment alone with Kevin Tsujihara, who is now the Chairman of Warner Brothers, and he happened to give me a piece of advice that has served me well in the years since. It went something along the lines of: “When you are in the room and presenting to a guy like me, take a chance and tell me something I don’t know. What’s the worst that can happen? I throw you out of my office? It’s worse if I don’t remember the meeting at all.”
Jacinda Ardern, 37
Prime Minister, New Zealand
I first ran for Parliament in 2008. It was a fairly tough campaign and I was running in a seat that would be impossible to win. I remember speaking at a candidates meeting, and a hall full of people responded by booing. It threw me enough for me to phone a friend, Darren Hughes, who was already a member of Parliament. He gave me a piece of advice I have fallen back on many times to this day: “If 50% of a room doesn’t disagree with you, you’re probably not saying anything.”
Logan Green, 34
Cofounder & CEO, Lyft
One of our earliest advisors told us we should stop working on Zimride (Lyft’s predecessor) and try something else. Hearing that from a trusted advisor forced us to question what we were doing, and strengthened our resolve. We thought long and hard about his advice, and came back deciding we were going to make it work and stay committed to Zimride. We were that much more determined.
Dave Gilboa, 37
Cofounder & Co-CEO, Warby Parker
In life: Always remember to call your mom. (advice from my mom). (It’s) somewhat joking, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate the importance of reaching out to the people you love and making sure they know how much you care about them.
In business: If you’re on a path that has a giant pot of gold at the end of it, don’t get distracted and veer off course when you see shiny objects along the way. Staying focused has been critical to our success at Warby Parker and Lee (Lee Fixel, one of our investors and Board members), emphasized this early on.