At 22, you were just graduating from college, entering the “real world,” and embarking on your professional journey.
Looking back, maybe you’d rewrite your past — or, perhaps you’re content with the decisions you made at that time in your life. Either way, there are probably a few things you wish you knew then that you know now.
Successful thought leaders — also known as Influencers — shared original posts filled with pearls of wisdom for young people based on what they wish they had known at 22. Here’s what 17 successful people had to say:
Angela Ahrendts: Honor humility
If the Senior Vice President of Apple Retail were 22, she writes that she would frequently thank her family and friends, regardless of how small their gesture was.
“The world is not here to serve me, rather I am here to serve the world,” Ahrendts writes.
Suze Orman: It’s OK to take time to figure out what you want.
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When the personal finance guru was 22, she and a few friends left Illinois and headed to Berkeley, California, where she spent her days helping clear away trees and brush.
“That was followed by a seven-year stretch of waitressing,” she writes. “It wasn’t until I was 30 that I landed a job — as a stock broker trainee — that put me on the path that leads directly to where I am today.”
She says she wouldn’t suggest that every 22-year-old take eight years to find the path they want to pursue — but she does hope that they give themselves the time and space to figure things out.
“That’s not a license for laziness. I worked, and worked hard, in my 20s. And I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had during that time. But if there is a 22-year-old out there reading this and feeling adrift, I have this to say to you: Been there, done that. And look at me — it all turned out better than fine, right?”
Jim Kim: Get to know people from every income level and understand their worlds.
AP Photo/Koji Sasahara
When the president at the World Bank turned 22, he was quite unhappy. He was just two months into his first year at Harvard Medical School, where he spent every night memorizing anatomy out of a textbook. “It seemed a real letdown,” he writes.
In his late 20s, Kim travelled to Haiti, Peru, and Siberia to work in poor or disadvantaged communities. While many of the people he met there had almost nothing and were illiterate, he says they were incredibly wise, and you would be ignorant to underestimate them.
“Listen to the poor because their aspirations are as high as anyone’s and all of us will need to face the task of making the world more inclusive and just,” he says.
Robert Herjavec: Dream bigger.
“If I could share any advice with my 22-year-old self, it would be very simple: Dream bigger,” the “Shark Tank” investor writes.
Herjavec says at 22, he didn’t dream big enough — and that’s why he didn’t quite understand how to channel creativity into something tangible. “I didn’t know how to translate my people skills into a career I would be passionate about,” he explains. “If I’d known I could do these things, I would have done them sooner.”
He says he invests in young people who dream big. “Evan and Nick from Tipsy Elves left successful, high-paying careers to jump head first into the crazy world of Christmas sweaters,” he says. “Ashley from Natural Grip pursued her vision wholeheartedly, making the first 150 pairs of grips from scraps in the trash at her husband’s office. They all dreamt big and made it happen with whatever they had. They taught themselves along the way and made a ton of mistakes, but they never would have tried without those initial dreams.”
Clara Shih: The most coveted jobs may not be right for you.
The CEO and cofounder of Hearsay Social says she can’t complain about the way her career has gone so far — but there are two things she wishes someone had told her at 22:
1. Don’t choose a job just because it’s the most sought-after.
2. Don’t choose a job based on pay (unless you absolutely have to).
“Especially when you are early in your career, one of the worst things you can do is sacrifice learning opportunities, growth, and valuable connections for ego and — in retrospect — paltry sums of short-term money,” she writes. “You owe it to your future self to make decisions today for the right reasons and the long term.”
Arianna Huffington: There’s enough time for the important things in life.
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“If I could go back in time, I’d introduce my 22-year-old self to a quotation by the writer Brian Andreas: ‘Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life,'” Huffington writes.
The Huffington Post founder and CEO of Thrive Global notes that out culture is obsessed with time. “It is our personal deficit crisis,” she says.
Had she heard that quote when she was 22, Huffington says it would have saved her from the “perpetually harried, stressed-out existence I experienced for so long.”
Feeling rushed — or like we don’t have enough time to accomplish what we want — which is also known as “time famine,” has very real consequences, “from increased stress to diminished satisfaction with your life,” she explains. “On the flip side, the feeling of having enough time, or even surplus time, is called ‘time affluence.’ And though it may be hard to believe, it’s actually possible to achieve.”
Huffington adds: “As long as success is defined by who works the longest hours, who goes the longest without a vacation, who sleeps the least, who responds to an email at midnight or five in the morning — in essence, who is suffering from the biggest time famine — we’re never going to be able to enjoy the benefits of time affluence.”
Adena Friedman: It’s OK to change your mind
Friedman, a Nasdaq president, stresses that it’s okay to change your mind.
After dedicating most of her college years to studying politics and government, she switched gears as a senior and decided to pursue an MBA at Vanderbilt University.
Once you do change your mind, “you are firmly on the threshold of a career that you hope and expect will reward you with meaning, material comfort, and expanding opportunities for years to come,” she explains. “In the workplace, that translates into the power of yes — the open door that will lead to more open doors as the years roll by.”
She also advises young professionals to think carefully about their first employer and be sure that the company will provide room for growth and development over time. She suggests you ask yourself: Is this the kind of organization that will repay your loyalty by offering new assignments and projects or by responding when you ask for them proactively? Is it an organization where good work leads to advancement opportunities in the long term?
Ian Callum: Work 10% harder than everyone else
“Go the extra mile,” writes the director of design at Jaguar. “One thing I discovered early on: that extra 10% of effort makes a 100% difference. It really does.”
And if your work ethic does not seem to be producing results, believe that it will get better: “When I first started work, I wish there’d been someone to say: ‘Don’t worry. In four or five years, which seems a long time off but isn’t, you’ll be in a completely different place. Trust me.’ It’s important to understand that.”
Sallie Krawcheck: Things won’t get easier, but they’ll get better.
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The owner and chair of Ellevate Network and a former top executive on Wall Street writes that she wishes she had built up a store of knowledge at 22.
She says she wishes she had known to keep a running note of what works and what doesn’t work for her; what she likes and what she doesn’t like; what she’s good and what she isn’t good at; the work styles that suit her and what doesn’t; and where her passions lie and what leaves her cold.
She’d tell her 22-year-old self that “it still won’t be easy once you decide what you want to do: over the months that follow, you’re going to be rejected by all of the major Wall Street firms … but you’ll eventually find the right firm. … It’s going to be a lot of fun. Not every day, but most days. You’re going to be rejected a lot. You’ll need thick skin to get through it. Oh, and work hard. That really matters. Please get that mole on your shoulder checked. And that guy you’re dating? Bad idea. Seriously.”
Richard Branson: Everyone deserves a second chance
The Virgin Group founder’s advice to his 22-year-old-self? Don’t let your past missteps define you — or anyone else.
“I am not the person I was 42 years ago. I am not even the person I was two years ago,” he writes. “We all change, we all learn, we all grow. To continually punish somebody for the mistakes they made in the past is not just illogical, it is plain wrong.”
Be the person who embraces the possibility of change, both in yourself and in others, he advises. “We all deserve a second chance. Next time you have the opportunity to give somebody their second chance, don’t think twice.”
Rachel Zoe: Don’t look at the clock
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“When you are just starting out in your career, it is both an incredibly exciting and scary time,” says the celebrity fashion stylist.
“When you are first starting out at a job (and even when you are settled into a company), stay as late as you can and also always be the first person to work in the morning,” Zoe writes. “This is obviously easier to do if you love your job, but even if you are in an assistant or entry-level role, you must understand that putting in the extra time will move you closer to what you want to do.”
Zoe says one of her first jobs in New York was for YM Magazine, and even though she was only hired for three days a week, she would always log extra days no questions asked.
“It was hard work but it taught me so much while also making me stand out,” she says.
Marc Lore: Money isn’t everything
When the Jet.com cofounder and CEO graduated from college, all he wanted was a job that looked good on his résumé and would pay well. So when he landed a job at Banker’s Trust, he felt “lucky.”
He soon learned that in banking, “the core motivational driver was personal financial gain, cultivating a fiercely competitive environment,” he writes.
“One morning I fell to the floor of my office, feeling an electric jolt in my chest as a result of stress,” he says. “Although it was not a heart attack, the message was clear. I had worked incredibly hard to get to the top but I was there alone — and it was unfulfilling.”
He eventually left that industry to pursue his lifelong dream of being an entrepreneur.
“I have since learned that you can achieve much greater success if you focus on what you can give,” Lore says. “Ultimately, I have realized that success is not a measure of your salary, title, or degree, but the impact you have others and the collective happiness of the people you touch.”
Deepak Chopra: Embrace the wisdom of uncertainty
“At the outset of my medical career, I had the security of knowing exactly where I was headed,” writes the popular author and founder of The Chopra Foundation. “Yet what I didn’t count on was the uncertainty of life, and what uncertainty can do to a person.”
At 22, Chopra had thought security was his “friend” and uncertainty his enemy. “If only I knew then, as I know now, that there is wisdom in uncertainty — it opens a door to the unknown, and only from the unknown can life be renewed constantly,” he says.
Maynard Webb: Dream big, execute bigger
“If you are willing to dream and then work hard and execute well, you can achieve more than you ever imagined.”
That’s what the Yahoo chairman wishes he’d known at 22.
After his father passed away unexpectedly when Webb was a young child, the family fell on hard times, and Webb’s world seemed to shrink. “We lost the air conditioner, hot water, and TV, and we also lost the opportunity to dream about what could be as we were too caught up trying to get by,” he writes.
At 22, he was a recent college grad working as an IBM security guard. “My biggest dream,” he recalls, “was to become an IBM manager and own a home.” He didn’t have a concept of how much higher he could reach. But “a pedigree, while a good stepping stone, was not the only way to get where you need to go,” he realized. “The only way to get where you need to go was to actually go for it — to show up, and knock on the door, and then run through it.”
Eric A. Spiegel: Position yourself to shape this new world – not just be shaped by it
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The president and CEO of Siemens USA says that, in a world that is constantly and quickly evolving, it’s important to embrace change. Committing yourself to lifelong learning and getting back up when you get knocked down will give you an edge, he writes.
“The tuition bills can stop, but our education has to keep going. We need to be in the mindset of constantly updating our skills,” Spiegel writes.
Naomi Simson: Work won’t remember that weekend you didn’t give it, but your friends will
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Simson, the founder of RedBalloon and a former Apple manager, says she learned at 22 the importance of choosing to nurture personal relationships over work.
Simson says at that time she worked weekends on many occasions, and on one weekend a college buddy from Chicago was coming to New York to visit her.
Unfortunately, IBM had also asked her to work that weekend, and Simson says she struggled to choose between them.
“I told my employer I could not work. Dwin and I had a great weekend exploring the city. He is the godfather to my daughter and we see each other regularly, Simson writes. “IBM does not remember that I did not work that weekend. Dwin would always have.”
“I would encourage my 22-year-old self to take a moment to nurture my friendships — in person. Call them, make a plan, do something together — share experience. Laugh out loud every day. A poke on Facebook does not a friendship make (not that there was such a thing as social media when I was 22),” she says.
Walt Bettinger: Recognize the value of building trust
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When the president and CEO at Charles Schwab was 22, he writes that he decided to leave his stable job at a large company and spend his life savings to start his own business.
At the time he struggled to win business because, as he says, he had no reputation and hadn’t taken the time to earn the trust of the decision makers he was trying to win over.
“Ultimately, I realized that building a reputation was something I had to do before I could persuade any company to do business with me,” Bettinger writes. “To this day, it’s something I remind new Schwabbies of each year — as my father always said, ‘You cannot buy and sell a reputation.'”
Rachel Sugar and Kathleen Elkins ontributed to an earlier version of this article.
This article was written by Rachel Gillett from Business Insider and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.