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40 Under 40: Advice That Helped Them Get Ahead

This year’s 40 Under 40 class has achieved some remarkable milestones, from winning Olympic medals to founding startups worth billions of dollars.  But no one from this list of go-getters is simply reveling in their success. Instead they’re tackling big tasks such as building electric vehicles, creating delectable meatless meat, and, oh yeah, diversifying the NFL. Of course they’ve all had some help along the way. Fortune asked the 2019 honorees to share the advice that’s proved most valuable. 

On finding a career …

Kate Gulliver, 37

Global Head of Talent, Wayfair

Worry less about your specific role and much more about who you work for and with. The best opportunities I have had in my career were the ones I never planned. For example, I joined Wayfair because I thought the leadership team was fantastic. I didn’t care what role I had, I just knew I wanted to be on the team. That's been the best move of my career. I think if you try to plan your career too directly, you'll miss out on exciting opportunities. With a background in finance, I never could have imagined that I would serve as Head of Global Talent, but this is the most exciting job I’ve ever had. [Editor's note: For more on Wayfair's approach to talent development, read this recent Fortune feature.]

Mike Gorenstein, 33

CEO, Cronos Group

The best piece of advice I was ever given was, don’t try to find what you’re good at and hope you like it. Do what you love doing and become great at it.

On succeeding at work …

Michael Kratsios, 32

U.S. Chief Technology Officer designate, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

Actions speak louder than words. It’s always important to remember that in order to actually get things done, you must always be focusing on deliverables and results. This is especially true in Washington.

Nadiem Makarim, 34

CEO & Founder, Go-Jek

Hire people better than you—highest return on advice I have ever received.

Karen Karniol-Tambour, 34

Head of Investment Research, Bridgewater

Ray Dalio told me a year into my time at Bridgewater, “You’re way too grounded in what you know, in what data you can see, rather than being focused on what you don’t know and must find a way to discover.” It’s a lifelong journey for me to fully internalize and live by this advice.  

On not being afraid to fail ...

Mei Mei Hu, 36

Cofounder & CEO, United Neuroscience

Don’t be afraid to fail. Fail fast, fail early...it’s less expensive. 

Laura Kliman, 35

Senior Flavor Scientist, Impossible Foods

You have the opportunity to learn much more from your failures than you do from your triumphs if you have the right perspective.

Steph Korey, 31

Cofounder & CEO, Away

 If you’re not making mistakes, you’re probably not learning anything either. 

Arjun Bansal, 35

VP of Artificial Intelligence Software and the AI Lab, Intel

“Everything happens for the best” (was) advice from my grandmother. I must have been 12 or 13, and after a lot of arguing finally convinced my parents to buy me a handheld video game, which turned out to be faulty. Back in India the returns policies are not as generous as in the U.S., so I was quite upset at the situation and remarked that I had just wasted a bunch of my parent’s money (Rs. 250 or ~$8 which was not insignificant in those days). My grandmother turned it into a positive by emphasizing the learnings (i.e., evaluating the quality of product before buying) from the situation. Even today I strive to find the positive learnings in bad situations.

On following your dreams …

Henrique Dubugras, 23

Cofounder & Co-CEO, Brex

I was told that dreaming big and dreaming small require the same amount of effort—so you might as well dream big.

Joy Buolamwini, 29

Founder, Algorithmic Justice League

Never stop dreaming, and dreaming requires sleep. 

This article is part of the 40 Under 40, our annual selection of the most influential young people in business. Click here to see the additional 2019 coverage of these disruptors, innovators, rebels, and artists.

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