Meg Whitman

“Several pieces of advice I’ve gotten in my life have really made a difference. ‘Be nice to people.’ This sounds like a platitude, but I’ll never forget my father telling me that. I was 10, and I had been mean to someone. He said, ‘There is no point in being mean to anyone at any time. You never know who you’re going to meet later in life. And by the way, you don’t change anything by being mean. Usually you don’t get anywhere.’

“Be nice, do your best-and most important, keep it in perspective.” - Meg Whitman, 48 - CEO and President of eBay

“Remember that you can do anything you want to do. Don’t let anyone say, ‘You’re not smart enough … it’s too hard … it’s a dumb idea … no one has done that before … girls don’t do that.’ My mom gave me that advice in 1973. And it allowed me to never worry about what others were saying about my career direction.

“‘Always do the best job you can do at whatever you’re assigned, even if you think it’s boring.’ Jerry Parkinson, an assistant advertising manager and my boss at P&G, told me this in 1979. Here I was fresh out of Harvard Business School, and I was assigned to determine how big the hole in the Ivory shampoo bottle should be: three-eighths of an inch or one-eighth of an inch. I did research, focus groups … and I would come home at night wondering how I had gone from HBS to this. But later I realized that any job you’re given is an opportunity to prove yourself.

“‘Don’t be a credit hog. If you’re constantly in the neighborhood of good things, good things will happen to you.’ Tom Tierney, who was my boss at Bain in 1981 and is now on the eBay board, told me this. It’s true-you get ahead by crediting other people.

“Finally, in 1998, I was in New York watching the ticker as eBay went public. My husband is a neurosurgeon. I called into his operating room and told him the great news. And he said, ‘That’s nice. But Meg, remember that it’s not brain surgery.’”