Love The Hustle Blog

6 Top Influencers and Leaders, and What They Wish They Knew Earlier

It’s great to be able to learn from the experiences of others, particularly leaders who have accomplished great things in life. Their mistakes both remind us that they are human and serve as lessons for us.

Take it from these highly successful business people and innovators and find out what they wish they had known earlier. Whether it is personal or business advice, these leaders have a lot to teach you.

Don’t overlook the power of “branding”

Craig Newmark, founder of the low-fi but ubiquitous website,, has several thoughts on how he would advise a young entrepreneur in the technology sector. First, he would tell any entrepreneur to be aware of “branding”. He writes that “it even includes how you dress, since people judge you that way”. Newmark also writes that you should decide whether you want to start with a small or large company (and he favors a small one, to start out). Lastly, he stresses the importance of balancing ambition with concrete results.

Be a good listener

Former Apple CEO, John Sculley, took the reins of the company before its innovative approach to business and technology led to its meteoric rise. Though originally a friend and ally of Steve Jobs, Sculley ended up making the questionable decision of forcing Jobs out of the company. Sculley wishes that he had been a better listener at the time. Sculley is quoted as having said, “you’ve got to be a good listener, you’ve got to be open-minded, and see things from different perspectives. And you’ve got to have curiosity.”

Avoid credit card debt

Mark Cuban is a judge on ABC’s Shark Tank and an owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Though he’s a billionaire now, Cuban hasn’t always avoided making financial missteps. “Credit cards are the worst investment that you can make… I should have paid off my cards every 30 days,” he admitted.

USA Today reports that the average American household has almost $17,000 in credit card debt. Though there are certain situations where a credit card can be useful, as a quick fix, it always ends up being a drag on your finances.

Value your customers

If there’s anyone who understands the value of customer service, its Neil Patel, co-founder of the analytics companies, Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. Patel has helped Amazon, NBC, GM, HP, and Viacom optimize their business approach. He’s widely known as one of the top experts in the field of marketing.

Reflecting on his development, Patel writes, “I wish that I knew how difficult it is to acquire a customer, get them to pay for your product and believe it’s as magical as you think it is.”

Now, Patel emphasizes both experimenting to find the best customers and constantly engaging with potential customers to know their wants and needs. A loyal customer is one who feels valued.

Follow your instincts

Pandora is anything but a conventional company. What it offers is free, personalized music, combining the experience of old-fashioned radio with that of a more typical music streaming service.

Tim Westergren, founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Pandora, would advise his younger self to, above all, follow his instincts, even if they led down an unexplored path. Regret usually stems from actions not taken, thoughts not pursued to the end. In Westergren’s case, his ultimate embrace of an innovative thought led to a company worth $2.5 billion.

When an idea strikes you, don’t dismiss it immediately. Take the time to explore it and see where it takes you. It might take you further than you could have imagined.

Keep it in perspective

Oprah Winfrey has, for many years, been one of the most successful and influential leaders and personalities in America. In addition to her world-famous television show, she owns her own cable network, magazine, and production company. She also continues to explore her personal passions, venturing into acting, founding an innovative ‘book club’, and generating publicity for her favorite spiritual teachers and self-help experts.

Oprah takes a philosophical approach when looking back at her earlier years. She writes, “even in times of the greatest turmoil, I can stop, get still, and see with utter clarity: This, too, shall pass.” If there were anything she could change, it would be to understand that she alone is generating her perspective. “You are the artist of your own life.”


These business leaders and entrepreneurs have seen it all and experienced failures as well as successes. Learn from their experiences by focusing on smart professional strategies and wise personal decision-making. Your life is in your hands.