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These 5 Pieces of Advice From Elon Musk, Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg to Young People Are Good for All of Us

Even advice-givers need advice once in a while.

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BY Rohini Venkatraman - 08 Nov 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Part of the unspoken role of a leader is to provide advice. Whether it's from within your organization or outside its walls, people want to know what you think. And occasionally, you might find that you yourself are in search of advice.

For those moments, here is some of the best advice that successful leaders around you have recently given to students and fellow colleagues alike.

1. If you're searching for inspiration, you're doing it wrong.

During a recent tour of the Tesla factory, a student asked Elon Musk for his best tips to young entrepreneurs who are waiting to get started. Musk's response wasn't the optimistic encouragement (ie, "Just get started!" or "Break barriers!") you'd expect. Instead, he reminded people of a stark but honest view of entrepreneurship--that it's not easy. As reported by Business Insider his response was as follows: "I think it's very difficult to start companies, it's quite painful. A friend of mine has a good phrase for doing a startup: it's like eating glass and staring into the abyss. If you are wired to do it, then only do it, not otherwise. So think of it this way - if you need inspiring words, don't do it!" While this could sound demotivating, it was actually meant to be inspiring. Entrepreneurship is difficult, but if you have the spark of an idea and the discipline and persistence to pursue it, don't worry about what others have to say. Just go for it.

2. Follow your heart first, then your head.

Last year, Tim Cook visited India and attended a cricket match where he was interviewed by a sportscaster. When asked to provide young viewers with key points for personal success, Tim Cook responded, "Do what you love, and put your whole heart into it, and then just have fun." During his career, Tim has prioritized "heart-based" vs "head-based" decisions. For example, he chose to move from Compaq to Apple because Apple's mission aligned with his desired sense of purpose. He has also previously mentioned during commencement speeches not to work for money. By this he means finding a role that aligns with your purpose, and allowing the money to follow. When it comes to "having fun," Tim is referring both to getting to know your colleagues on a personal level, and also having a balanced personal life outside of work (he loves getting outdoors).

3. Find your--and everyone else's--purpose.

Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg addressed Harvard's 366th graduating class. Unlike many commencement speeches that encourage graduates to find their place in the world, Zuckerberg argued that finding one's purpose is simply insufficient. According to CNBC, he said, "Instead, I'm here to tell you finding your purpose isn't enough. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose," he says. He provides tangible ways to accomplish this, including taking on meaningful projects, fixing inequality, and building global communities. Not only is Mark's advice powerful, but it also encapsulates his contribution so far, which all started by his creating a platform to enable communities of people to connect.

4. You set the rules.

After the recent launch of her meal kit delivery service, Ayesha Curry spoke with CNBC on her advice to entrepreneurs. For her, it all came down to confidence. "The only person who can set limits on your potential is you, so don't be afraid to take on challenges that scare you," she said. When starting or leading a company and team can already feel uncomfortable, it is hard to continually push yourself further. Still, it's important to remember that even in those difficult spots, you determine how far you can go.

5. It's about integration, not balance.

Work-life balance is a common topic and concern for entrepreneurs and those who are considering starting or leading their own company. In a recent discussion, Arianna Huffington advised that we actually shouldn't be thinking about balancing work and life, and instead integrating the two. She explained to HuffPost, "The important thing is your life and your work [are] integrated, by which I mean, are you consistently exhausted and burned out, or are you taking enough time to sleep, to meditate or renew yourself in whatever way works for you?" Though it seems ideal, a clean 50-50 separation of "work" and "life," is unrealistic. Especially in our mobile and global world, the lines are always blurring. To achieve the sanity that comes with balance, instead think about the healthy ways your work and life can be integrated so that you can be efficient in your work--and your play.

While everyone works differently and there is obviously no silver bullet, it's helpful to gather a trove of advice from which you can identify what resonates with you and what others in your network might find helpful.