Focus. Persevere. Hustle. Follow your gut. Put customers first. Don’t reinvent unnecessary wheels. This is just some of the smart, helpful and brief advice that iStartupLabs CEO Peter Corbett got from CEOs and founders over Twitter. Here, he shares the wisest words.


SuccessAs a young CEO of a growing company, I find that the most valuable insight I’m gaining these days has been from other CEOs. Certainly this realization isn’t revolutionary – YPO, EO, Mindshare and a host of other organizations are set up just for this kind of knowledge exchange.

But who has time for that? This is a social media world. We’re live in 140-character sound bites. So I decided to ping my favorite CEOs via Twitter to see what kind of wisdom they could drop on me. Here’s the great advice they shared.

Daniel Ek, CEO, Spotify

Figure out what the top five most important stuff is, focus relentlessly on that and keep iterating. Less is more.

Dennis Crowley, CEO, FourSquare

Don’t let people tell you your ideas won’t work. If you have a hunch that something will work, go build it. Ignore the haters.

Sarah Prevette, Founder, Sprouter

Just do it. Get it out there, absorb the feedback, adjust accordingly, hustle like hell, persevere and never lose your swagger.

Sarah Lacy, CEO, PandoDaily

Follow your gut. it may be wrong, but you won’t regret it if you fail. You’ll regret it if you ignore your gut and fail.

Craig Newmark, Founder, Craigslist

Treat people like you want to be treated. Apply to customer service.

Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO, VaynerMedia

Do work for your customers, not for press or VCs. The end user is what matters long term.

Matt Mullenweg, CEO, Automattic

Only reinvent the wheels you need to get rolling.

Jason Goldberg, CEO, Fab.com

Pick one thing and do that one thing — and only that one thing — better than anyone else ever could.

 Alexis Ohanian, CEO, Reddit

Make something people want. Then give more damns than anyone else about it and you’ll make something they love.

Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works

Buy @ericries’s book. Beyond that? Build a platform. This is the big year.

Matt Howard, CEO, ZoomSafer

Startup wisdom: The number one job of a CEO is to not run out of money.

Brian Wong, CEO, Kiip

Always be learning from others. Whenever you meet someone, you don’t want something from them, you want to learn from them.

Seth Priebatsch, Chief Ninja, SCVNGR and LevelUp

Something my dad taught me: Ask forgiveness, not permission!

Hooman Radfar, Founder, Clearspring

Give away the wins, own the loses. Your job is to curate greatness.

Alexa Hirschfeld, CEO, Paperless Post

Users and employees are key predictive indicators of a company’s success; press and investors generally months behind.

Got some other great wisdom for your fellow CEOs? Leave me a comment!

Peter Corbett (@corbett3000) is the CEO of the creative agency iStrategyLabs, and is the founding organizer of DC Tech Meetup.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Search Engine People Blog.

  1. Profound pearls of wisdom from these great CEO’s who has weathered more ecommerce storms than myself. I believe I will be utilizing these tips while coducting business. Thank you!

    1. Peter Corbett  Saturday, January 28, 2012

      I’m glad you found it helpful!

  2. Many defenders of Twitter’s recent announcement have jumped on board without the facts, just as quickly accusing naysayers of being ‘misguided’, even citing the move as being ‘good for activists’. Most arguments rely too heavily on trusting the company to share censorship requests on Chilling Effects, and fail to discuss its lack of complete transparency on the details of their new (?) practices, or the slippery slope it presents.

    Questioning censorship practices is important and necessary, as has been echoed across the world. The news is troubling to say the least.

    1. Peter Corbett  Saturday, January 28, 2012

      @mich I’m not sure how this relates to the post above :)

  3. Great post, concise and impactful. One advice from my line manager, who is both a great leader and a great engineer: effort and dedication are key, you can always be better prepared than the rest of people around you. Greetings from Spain!

  4. Great article! Agree totally. Add: find mentors & connect with others who succeed. Avoid mediocrity at all levels. Don’t settle for just being average on the job or plan to be replaced.

  5. Mr. Corbett,
    And, the hardest part: take these nuggets of wisdom and go to the lowest level in your organization, the person sweeping the floor, or answering the phone, or counting beans, and expect the same from them.

  6. Michelle Christie Saturday, January 28, 2012

    Great tips! Innovation and Focus.

  7. Agree with @eAfricaTours and @Michelle Christie, Love this post!

  8. Thank you. Brilliant. I took some liberties here, http://madamebellefeuille.blogspot.com/2012/01/15-things-successful-ceos-want-teachers.html. Shannon

    1. Peter Corbett  Saturday, January 28, 2012

      Nice work Shannon. Love that!

  9. Brilliant in their simplicity. Although I’m not a CEO, I believe one major key to success is the ability, courage, and conviction to think situationally. Following a play book is one thing, but the ability to anticipate, and implement proactive solutions to unexpected problems is quite another. It’s amazing how many leaders are afraid to even question the norm, much less ignore it.

  10. Here is another one, used to be on the sugnature of Uri Levine (Founder and president of Waze): “Focus is not what you are doing, it’s what you are not doing”


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