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Encouraging Quotes From 14 Business Leaders

Every business leader’s path to success looks a little different. What ultimately connects them all, however, is a drive to dream big, think outside the box, and pave a new path forward. Many of today’s most well-known entrepreneurs and executives had humble beginnings, and it is perhaps a desire to change their life circumstances that drove them to channel their energy into successful startups, big enterprises, and beyond. "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life,” Apple cofounder Steve Jobs famously said. It’s that sort of focused intentionality that often sets leaders apart from the rest.

From the practical to the philosophical, business leaders — from Jobs to Oprah to Warren Buffett to Anna Wintour — have plenty of wisdom to impart from their experiences. Which is not to say that they have the answers to everything, of course: Part of being an effective leader is also having the humility to learn from those you work with, and who work for you. Here, we’ve rounded up 14 quotes from some of the most successful business leaders of yesterday and today. Consider it motivation for your own goals and challenges.

Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.
— Oprah Winfrey, founder of Harpo

​​We need to accept that we won't always make the right decisions, that we'll screw up royally sometimes — understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it's part of success.
— Arianna Huffington, cofounder of The Huffington Post and founder of Thrive Global

The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well.
— John D. Rockefeller Jr., philanthropist and developer of Rockefeller Center

Being a woman in business doesn't come without challenges. My advice? Surround yourself with other supportive women that encourage you, share ideas, and get you motivated.
— Jessica Alba, actress and founder of The Honest Company

So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.
— Caterina Fake, cofounder of Flickr

If you wake up deciding what you want to give versus what you're going to get, you become a more successful person.
— Russell Simmons, cofounder of Def Jam Recordings

The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It's as simple as  that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.
— Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s

There is nothing like a concrete life plan to weigh you down. Because if you always have one eye on some future goal, you stop paying attention to the job at hand, miss opportunities that might arise, and stay fixedly on one path, even when a better, newer course might have opened up.
— Indra K. Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi Co.

Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.
— Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx

​​There is no perfect fit when you're looking for the next big thing to do. You have to take opportunities and make an opportunity fit for you, rather than the other way around.
— Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect.
— Rosalind Brewer, CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance

Whatever it is that you think you want to do, and whatever it is that you think stands between you and that, stop making excuses. You can do anything.
— Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and CEO of Birchbox

It's better to hang out with people better than you. Pick out associates whose behavior is better than yours and you'll drift in that direction.
— Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

People respond well to those that are sure of what they want.
— Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue

Photo credit: Ron Adar/ Alamy Stock Photo

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About the Author
Joyce Chen
Joyce Chen is a writer, editor, and community builder based in Seattle, Washington.
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