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Carnival, Hulu, GoPro CEOs: What I'd tell my 21-year-old self

Your career is going nowhere if you insist on sitting on the sidelines.

Those were the insights of a handful of chief executive officers who spoke to CNBC at the Consumer Electronics Show, which ended Jan. 8 in Las Vegas. The conference, hosted by the Consumer Technology Association, showcases the latest developments in consumer technology.

The CEOs who spoke with CNBC shared the advice they'd give to their 21-year-old selves, and their best tips for success. Those who take risks, build a strong team and put in some old-fashioned hard work are the ones who will get ahead.

Take chances

Nobody gets brownie points for playing it safe.

"My advice to my 21-year-old self would be to take more risks, and definitely buy Microsoft and more real estate," said Mike Hopkins, CEO of Hulu, the video streaming service.

Bob Pittman, CEO of iHeartMedia, a provider of streaming music and digital radio, put it succinctly.

"Don't plan so much," he said. "Truth is, you've got to change it every day and be ready for the future."

Build your team

You can't do it all on your own, and that's OK.

"Build a team. Build relationships," said John Martin, CEO of Turner Broadcasting System. "You're only as tall as the shoulders you ride on."

Be receptive to insight from others. "Listen carefully always," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival, the cruise line. "If you really listen, the world will reveal itself to you and give you the answers you are looking for."

Be committed

Now isn't the time to phone it in. You have to produce to get ahead.

"Execute: You've got to always deliver," said Scott Hardy, CEO of Polaroid. "Always make it happen, no matter the price."

You also need to devote yourself to getting ahead. "Commit yourself completely," said Nick Woodman, CEO of GoPro.