11 celebrities’ best advice to their younger selves

Here are the best pieces of life and career advice celebrities and leaders like Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey would give their younger selves, so that we can learn along with them, and hopefully learn to see a pitfall before we fall into it.

As we grow older, we hopefully grow wiser, more aware of the pitfalls and detours that would have stopped us from accomplishing our goals when we were younger. We’re not alone in this career journey. Even the most successful leaders today started out young and in need of guidance.

Here are the best pieces of life and career advice celebrities and leaders like Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey would give their younger selves, so that we can learn along with them, and hopefully learn to see a pitfall before we fall into it:

Oprah Winfrey

“I always ask people on ‘Super Soul Sunday’ to tell me, what would you say to your younger self? Every person says in one form or another, I would have said, relax, Relax. It’s going to be okay. It really is going to be okay because even if you’re on a detour right now and that’s how you know, when you’re not at ease with yourself, when you’re feeling like ohhh, ohhh, — that is the cue that you need to be moving in another direction. Don’t let yourself get all thrown off, continue to be thrown off course. When you’re feeling off course, that’s the key, ” the media mogul and self-made billionaire told Stanford Business School graduates. “The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, ‘what is the next right move?'”

Bill Gates

When asked what he would tell his 19-year-old self, the Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist wrote, “What I would explain that smartness is not single dimensional and not quite as important as I thought it was back then. I would say you might explore the developing world before you get into your forties. I wasn’t very good socially back then but I am not sure there is advice that would fix that — maybe I had to be awkward and just grow up..”

Carrie Fisher

“If there’s a choice between companionship and anything else—especially career—choose companionship. It’s the only thing that has the potential to last. Choose career and you’ll spend unreasonable amounts of time attempting to look younger than you are and feeling you aren’t succeeding. Fame is not acceptance,” the late actress wrote in a letter to her younger self.

Tony Robbins

“You’re going to over estimate what you could do in a year and you’re going to underestimate what you could do in a decade, or in two, three, or in my case now four [decades],” the self-made millionaire and motivational speaker told CNBC. “Allow yourself to think in terms of decades.”

Michelle Obama

“Stop being so afraid! That’s really what strikes me when I look back—the sheer amount of time I spent tangled up in fears and doubts that were entirely of my own creation,” the former U.S. First Lady told People. “Walk away from ‘friendships’ that make you feel small and insecure, and seek out people who inspire you and support you. Focus more on learning than on succeeding—instead of pretending that you understand something when you don’t, just raise your hand and ask a question. You’re a smart girl, and chances are if you’re confused, plenty of other students are too. And for heaven’s sake, let yourself really fail once in a while—not some tiny little mistakes here and there, but big, glaring, confidence-shaking, dark-night-of-the-soul-inducing failures. Understand that no one—especially folks who are truly successful—simply coasts from achievement to achievement. The most accomplished people in the world fail and fail big. That’s how they learn so much and grow so quickly and become so interesting and wise.”

Naomi Wolf

“INVEST FIFTY BUCKS IN THE STOCK MARKET EVERY MONTH!! You don’t need to eat out so much. Think of all that compound interest!” the best-selling author wrote in a letter to her younger self.

Mark Cuban

“You’ve got to know where you are good and where you are not good,” the “Shark Tank” judge and self-made billionaire said he would tell his 20-year-old self. “I look for somebody who knows what they are good at and knows what they are not very good at and is realistic enough to pull all of those pieces together.”

Whoopi Goldberg

“Stay out of your own way,” the comedian, entrepreneur and television host wrote in a letter to her younger self.

David Robinson

“Your peers will respect you for your integrity and character, not your possessions. What are you gonna do anyway, drive a Ferrari around the naval base? How is that going to help anyone?” the NBA Hall-of-Famer who attended the U.S. Naval Academy wrote in a letter to his younger self.

Jack Dorsey

“When I was young, I didn’t understand the value of exercise or health and how that affected my intellect,” the Twitter and Square CEO told Y Combinator on what he would tell his younger self. “I think it was useful for me to go to all the extremes to find the balance I have now, but I wish I focused more on being healthier in the past. A healthier lifestyle ultimately makes me more creative and allows me to think more cohesively.”

Sheryl Sandberg

When a person on Quora asked the Facebook COO what Sandberg would tell her younger self at the beginning of her career, Sandberg gave a detailed response:

“There is no straight path to where you are going. If you try to draw that line you will not just get it wrong, but you will miss big opportunities. As Pattie Sellers of Fortune Magazine says, careers are not ladders but jungle gyms. You don’t have to have it all figured out. I recommend adopting two concurrent goals:

  1. A long-term dream: It doesn’t have to be realistic or even specific. For example, you might say you want to work in a specific field, travel the world, have more free time. Even a vague goal can provide direction.
  2. An 18-month plan: Set personal goals for what you want to learn in the next year and a half. Ask yourself how you can improve and what you’re afraid to do (that’s usually the thing you should try).”

Monica Torres|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at mtorres@theladders.com.