Buffett & more: CEOs share their top tips

Bits of wisdom from business' boldface names

Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. chairman and chief executive officer, right, talks with Bill Gates, billionaire and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as they tour the exhibition floor during the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. annual shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Everyone has to start somewhere.

Success doesn't just happen overnight. Becoming a good leader, reaching your full potential and surpassing expectations are all key aspects of making it to the top. Sometimes, these anecdotes come in the form of a lesson personally learned by a business person, while others stem from grains of advice shared by a friend or a family member.

From the best advice they've received to their own motivational nuggets, here are some pieces of wisdom from those who have successfully climbed the corporate ladder.

—Posted by CNBC's Karissa Giuliano
Posted 25 July 2015
Updated 15 March 2016

Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder

Bill Gates
Lacy O'Toole | CNBC

"Warren Buffett has taught me a lot of things, but he got me thinking very early on that at some point I'd have the opportunity and responsibility to give the wealth back."

Source: 2012 interview with ABC News

Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox

Ursula Burns
Getty Images

Burns' most influential advice comes from her mother:

"Stuff that happens to you, please, let's talk about it for five minutes, and you can cry, and let's go through that, the healing process, but then it's kind of done. I can't hear about that two years from now."

Source: 2010 interview with The New York Times

Ben Silbermann, Pinterest co-founder

Ben Silbermann, co-founder and chief executive officer of Pinterest
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"Every company carves its own path, and (founders) are under pressure to make their start-ups look like the last successful company everyone remembers."

Source: panel discussion at SXSW in 2012

Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn CEO

Jeff Weiner, chief executive officer of LinkedIn Corp.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"As a child, I can't recall a day that went by without my dad telling me I could do anything I set my mind to. He said it so often, I stopped hearing it. Along with lines like "eat your vegetables, I just assumed it was one of those bromides that parents repeated endlessly to their kids. It wasn't until decades later that I fully appreciated the importance of those words and the impact they had on me."

Source: LinkedIn post in 2012

Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway CEO

Jennifer Hyman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Rent the Runway.
Ramin Talaie | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"If you're passionate about something, go for it, because people are great at what they love and when they're the happiest."

Source: The Huffington Post interview in 2011

John Gainor, CEO and president of International Dairy Queen

John Gainor, president and chief executive officer of International Dairy Queen Inc.
Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"I think it's very important that you don't want work to be work. It has to be something that you can enjoy. And if you find that, you can build a great career and enjoy what you're doing. But I think the other thing is equally as important, and that is you need to treat every employee no different than how you want to be treated. Every person in an organization or in a store, their job is critical."

Source: Yahoo News interview in 2013

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo

Marissa Mayer
Ruben Sprich | Reuters

"My friend Andre said to me, 'You know, Marissa, you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself to pick the right choice, and I've got to be honest: That's not what I see here. I see a bunch of good choices, and there's the one that you pick and make great.' I think that's one of the best pieces of advice I've ever gotten."

Source: 2011 interview with the Social Times

Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder, Airbnb

When Airbnb was going through Paul Graham's Y Combinator program, the legendary programmer and start-up mentor told Chesky:

"Build something 100 people love, not something 1 million people kind of like."

Source: 2013 interview with Pando Daily

Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway CEO

Warren Buffett, chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.
Lacy O'Toole | CNBC

Berkshire Hathaway director Thomas Murphy told him:

"Never forget, Warren, you can tell a guy to go to hell tomorrow — you don't give up the right. So just keep your mouth shut today and see if you feel the same way tomorrow."

Source: 2010 interview with Yahoo.

Correction: This slideshow has been updated to reflect the Ben Silbermann's attribution.

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