18 Inspiring Lessons From the GOATS of Entrepreneurship and Leadership

From Jeff Bezos to Oprah Winfrey, some inspiring words from inspiring leaders.

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By Brad Klune

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Entrepreneurship is a wild ride, and it's not for the faint of heart. If you are reading this article, you were born to shake things up and pave your own way. And as some of the most successful entrepreneurs in history have said, the key to success is to just start. Here are 15 inspiring lessons from legendary entrepreneurs.

Need more than inspiration? Book a one-on-one session with the founders of some of the most successful startups like Reddit, Drybar, Nextdoor and more.

1. "Just start." — Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup

The hardest part of any journey is the first step, so why not just take it and see where it leads? Don't wait for the perfect moment or the perfect idea. If you don't start, you'll never finish.

2. "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" — Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Meta

Turn fear into your motivation. Strive for more.

3. "The biggest risk is not taking any risk." — Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook

Taking risks is like jumping into a cold plunge—it may be uncomfortable at first. Ultimately, it will help you achieve your goals.

4. "You must do the things you think you cannot do." — Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady

Reach beyond our perceived limitations and strive for greatness.

Related: Sign up for a one-on-one mentor session with a startup expert

You are capable of achieving more than you think is possible. You are probably operating at a 3/10 when you realistically can ramp to an 8/10. With hard work and determination, you can push through any barrier and come out stronger on the other side. So dream big and never give up!

5. "You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over." — Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group

You'll learn to take the right risks and be prepared for the occasional stumble. After all, there's no better way to learn than by doing and getting back up again.

6. "If you're not stubborn, you'll give up on experiments too soon. And if you're not flexible, you'll pound your head against the wall and you won't see a different solution to a problem you're trying to solve." — Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon

Flexibility and stubbornness are both essential traits for entrepreneurs, so make sure to keep them in balance. With the right combination of boldness and patience, you'll be well on your way to achieving success!

7. "If you can't fly then run. If you can't run then walk. If you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward." – Oprah Winfrey, media mogul

You should never give up, no matter how hard the journey may be.

Regardless of the challenges and obstacles that stand in your way, you can find a way to move forward. You all have the power to keep pushing, no matter what.

8. "My life didn't please me, so I created my life." — Coco Chanel, fashion icon

You can do anything you set your mind to. Don't let life just happen to you—make it happen.

9. "Fail often so you can succeed sooner." — Tom Kelley, IDEO partner

Failure and success are tied. More at-bats will help you iterate faster and learn more. Failing often will help you get closer to success - no matter how small the success, it's still a step in the right direction.

10. "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." — Walt Disney, co-founder of the Walt Disney Company

Put Walt's words of wisdom into action — stop talking and start doing! Success is within reach if you take the first step and learn from your mistakes along the way.

11. "In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative, original thinker unless you can also sell what you create." - David Ogilvy, advertising executive

We've heard this before. Spencer Rascoff preaches that all entrepreneurs need to be salespeople. Able to sell your business, your product, and your company vision.

12. "The best way to predict the future is to create it." — Abraham Lincoln, former US President

Abraham Lincoln is a man who knew a thing or two about making history.

Don't wait for life to happen to you, make it happen. It's a reminder that we're all capable of creating our own destiny and that the future is ours to mold.

13. "Fearlessness is not the absence of fear. It's the mastery of fear. It's about getting up one more time than we fall down." —Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post

Don't shy away from fear. Face it head-on.

It's an ongoing battle of getting up even after life knocks us down.

14. "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do." - Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple

Let's face it, work takes up a big chunk of our lives, and the only way to make that time meaningful is to do something that you truly believe in.

15. "In whatever you do, you're not going to stand out unless you think big and have ideas that are truly original. That comes from tapping into your own creativity, not obsessing over what everyone else is doing." —Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal

Making an impact requires more than just following the status quo; it calls for embracing your own innovative ideas. To truly stand out, you must be willing to take risks and unleash your creative potential.

The key is to focus less on what others are doing, and instead aim to generate unique solutions that can make a real difference. Only then will you be able to make a meaningful mark on the world.

Related: Sign up for a one-on-one mentor session with a startup expert

16. "Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it's holy ground. There's no greater investment." — Stephen Covey, author of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"

Not an overnight success? Then, you are not making the headlines. It can take time to get things up and running and that is OK.

Don't be too hard on yourself.

17. "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning." — Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft

From my time pre-IPO at Uber, Instawork, and Intro, I've learned that your customers build your product roadmap. Listen to them.

18. "The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." — Chinese Proverb

In life, it's best to take action as soon as possible.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago because it would have had time to grow and mature by now. However, the second best time to plant a tree is now, even though it won't be as mature as it would have been 20 years ago.

The same goes for any goal or task, the earlier you start, the better the outcome will be, but it's never too late to start, and the present is always the second-best time to start.

Brad Klune

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Head of Business Operations

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor. Head of Business Operations at Intro. Former leadership at Uber and Instawork.

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