15 career lessons from successful founders (and how to apply them)

We have uncovered words of wisdom from 15 successful founders that you can put into action to get ahead in your career.

Clarity is underrated. Crystalizing your career plan is a tough business in a noisy world. This is why mentors exist: they bring your potential into focus from the perspective of somebody who has already traveled that journey.

But sometimes you don’t need a mentor to achieve the clarity you need. It just takes somebody to capture a truth in a sentence or two. A purpose you know in your heart but have not yet identified.

Study the collected writings of our most successful entrepreneurs and you’ll find a lot of very useful stuff – though as you plow through page after page of ideas, ‘clarity’ might not be the word that comes to mind! In the meantime, resume.io has gathered a handful of clarity to guide your next career steps. Our latest infographic presents 15 short quotes from top founders on how to succeed along with brief, direct instructions on how to embody those words of wisdom.

Adapt to flourish

A common theme through our chosen quotes is adaptability. A flexible branch is less likely to snap and more likely to flourish and grow. As Jeff Bezos puts it, “If you’re not flexible, you’ll pound your head against the wall and you won’t see a different solution to a problem you’re trying to solve.”

The founders we’ve quoted identify two approaches to being adaptable in your career:

Trust the process. You may need to try a lot – and fail a lot – before you reach a successful outcome.

Trust yourself. Don’t wait for an opportunity that fits – find the opportunity you want, and make it fit.

“People think innovation is just having a good idea, but a lot of it is just moving quickly and trying a lot of things,” according to Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook founder reckons trying things out – even if the outcome is vague – can help you escape the limitations of existing systems. Example? “We have this tradition of having hack-a-thons,” continues Zuck, “which are events where all of our engineers and really the whole company get together and stay up just all night building things.”

And Spanx founder Sara Blakely notes that when you’re starting out, you might not know everything you need – but this can be to your advantage. Untainted by the preconceptions of your industry, your presence, questions, and fresh ideas gain you positive attention from your peers: “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know,” says Blakely. “That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”

Don’t wait for your ice cream to melt

Adaptability isn’t the only career lesson from these founders. Our infographic contains wisdom and advice on how teamwork, ambition, generosity, and chutzpah are words to live and succeed by.

And if all else fails, take a leaf from the founder of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and just get stuck in: “If you know too much before the start, then you will get overwhelmed,” says Jeni Britton Bauer. “You need that otherworldly passion. Just start.”

It works for eating ice cream, and it works for business. These founders didn’t get where they are today by waiting for the perfect moment.

This article first appeared on Resume.io.