When seeking out sources of motivation, people often turn to insightful quotes from those they admire. These excerpts and sound bites offer inspiration and a valuable look into the mindsets of successful figures. That’s why books and articles written about famous billionaires, from Warren Buffett to Oprah Winfrey, are often popular, because we want to find out what got them to where they are today.
I recently read an interactive graphic on eBay Deals featuring life advice from 18 of the wealthiest people in history, and noticed recurring themes within the quotes. The most successful businesspeople shared common mentalities and attitudes that ultimately aided in their achievements.
Here’s a breakdown of the three major themes I gathered from the quotes.
The Importance of Timely Innovation
Many of the quotes focused on the consequences of following the pack, not taking risks and not acting in a timely manner. Basically: Do something new, and do it quickly. Interestingly, timeliness was a major component of this advice, and for a variety of reasons.
“Whenever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.” – Mark Cuban
“If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.” – John Rockefeller
“Done is better than perfect.” – Mark Zuckerberg
“The first one gets the oyster. The second one gets the shell.” – Andrew Carnegie
“In business, by the time you realize you’re in trouble, it’s too late to save yourself. Unless you’re running around scared all the time, you’re gone.” – Bill Gates
“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs
“Don’t spend so much time trying to choose the perfect opportunity that you miss the right opportunity.” – Michael Dell
The Benefits of Other Perspectives
Another theme that cropped up multiple times was that of attaining different perspectives. No one suggested that you should shut out others and pursue your goals alone. Without seeing the world through other people’s eyes, many said, you won’t be able to achieve success.
“It’s better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you’ll drift in that direction.” – Warren Buffett
“In terms of doing work and in terms of learning and evolving as a person, you just grow more when you get more people’s perspectives.” – Mark Zuckerberg
“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.” – Henry Ford
“To me, encountering an opposing point of view is a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the issues at stake and develop my own point of view. But the first thing you’ve got to do is, you’ve got to let people speak and you’ve got to listen.” – Michael Bloomberg
The Advantages of Failure
This is my personal favorite — that failure isn’t something to be feared, but rather accepted. In fact, failure is sometimes necessary in order to meet your goals. It may be hard to believe, but once you read what successes like Bill Gates and J.K. Rowling had to say, you’ll think failure can be a good thing, too.
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates
“Failure is the only opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
“Go for it and when you go for it you’ll learn what you’re capable of, what the potential is, where the opportunities are. But you can’t be afraid to fail because that’s when you learn.” – Michael Dell
“Do the one thing you think you cannot do. Fail at it. Try again. The only people who never tumble are those who never mount the high wire. This is your moment. Own it.” – Oprah Winfrey
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
“Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” – J.K. Rowling
“I knew that if I failed I wouldn’t regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying.” – Jeff Bezos
“I’ve always said that other than bad ideas, which is a reason for failure, the ability to never ever quit or give up is something that is very, very important for success as an entrepreneur.” – Donald Trump
Do you agree with the sentiments of these quotes? What quotes or pieces of advice inspire you?
Kelsey Libert is an inbound marketing speaker, Director of Promotions and business partner at Fractl. She has built relationships and partnered content with Time, Upworthy, Fast Company and dozens of top-tier publishers.
Image credit: CC by Joi