4 things to avoid if you want to get ahead from Jeff Bezos, Guy Kawasaki and other highly successful people

Jeff Bezos
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Jeff Bezos

Billionaire Richard Branson once said that "Life's greatest teacher is failure."

And yet, certain blunders — however much insight they provide — can ruin your career. If you want to steer clear of some of the most common pitfalls at work, consider what a few highly successful business people say you should stop doing at all costs.

Here are four things to avoid if you want to be successful:

1. Rambling 

In college, you learn many valuable lessons that can help you succeed in the workplace. But according to Guy Kawasaki, Silicon Valley venture capitalist and former Apple chief evangelist, there's one you should forget — thinking you need to be verbose to communicate well.

Guy Kawasaki speaks at the Macworld 2010 conference.
Bloomberg/Getty Images
Guy Kawasaki speaks at the Macworld 2010 conference.

In school, you may have been encouraged to write essays with 10-page minimums. But in business, Kawasaki says, effective communication is all about brevity.

Whether it's reaching out regarding a potential job interview or sending a summary of a conversation, less is more. People will take notice of your ability to write and speak well.

2. Constantly multitasking

Billionaire Jeff Bezos has a lot on his plate.

While the Amazon founder and CEO could juggle many tasks at once, he says that by focusing on one thing, he is able to produce better results and be more productive.

"I don't like to multitask," he recently said at the Summit Series in Los Angeles. "If I'm reading my email I want to be reading my email."

3. Focusing solely on your own needs

Former FBI negotiator and entrepreneur Chris Voss says that so many professionals focus only on what they need. If you want to get ahead, Voss says, ask what your boss needs.

Find time to ask your boss, "Where are we going and how can I help us get there?" says Voss.

By making yourself instrumental in helping your boss achieve his or her long-term work goals, you are making yourself very valuable.

4. Over-rehearsing your answers for a job interview

While you shouldn't walk into an interview without preparation and research, you don't want to recite all of your answers from a mental script, according to a top tech recruiter.

A jogger runs past signage displayed at the Microsoft Corp. campus in Redmond, Washington.
Mike Fuentes | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A jogger runs past signage displayed at the Microsoft Corp. campus in Redmond, Washington.

According to Chuck Edward, Microsoft's head of global talent acquisition, nearly every hiring manager wants to see answers that show your personality. Giving a bland or pre-written answer won't get the hiring manger excited about you as a candidate.

Of course, being prepared to answer some tricky interview questions such as "Tell me about yourself," and "What questions do you have for me?" will help. But leave room for improvisation.

Check out How to avoid the biggest career mistake young people make