The best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others. - Tim Phillips

I was a first-born overachiever and I grew up a devout Catholic - repressed and serious. Concerned about my solemnity, my Dad gave me this advice: "Lighten up and be yourself." Back then it was easier said than done, but I eventually got the hang of it.

Fortune advice

Earlier this year, Fortune magazine published an article in which several accomplished people talked about the best advice they ever got (May 12, 2008). Here's some of what they had to say.

  • "First, always ask for the order; and second, when the customer says yes, stop talking." Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City.
  • "Look for an out-of-your-comfort-zone experience." David Petraeus, Former Commanding General, Multinational Force-Iraq.
  • "Focus on those things you do better than others." Peter G. Peterson, co-founder, Blackstone Group.
  • "Use your sense of humor to help diffuse anxiety. Humor takes away tension and helps you realize when you're wrong." Craig Newmark, founder of Craig's List.
  • "I've noticed that some of the most effective leaders don't make themselves the center of attention. They are respectful. They listen. This is an appealing personal quality, but it's also an effective leadership attribute." Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM.
  • "Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different." Indra Nooyi, chairman and CEO, Pepsico.
  • "Spend a ton of time with your customers. Ask them how you compare with competitors, how your service is and what they think of your products." Charlene Begley, president and CEO, GE Enterprise Solutions.

Tricky business

Taking advice is tricky business, because sometimes it's just plain manipulation. Besides, the best advice often lies within. It's been said the best way to succeed in life is to act on the advice we give to others (vs. take my advice, I don't use it anyway!). In any case, I believe that if you do give advice, it's best if it's brief. To see the article from Fortune magazine, go to .

Petfood industry advice

Gleaning through past issues of Petfood Industry , I found ideas and advice that I think hold up.

  • "There are three primary trends driving growth in the global petfood market: humanization, convenience and health." David Lummis, market researcher with Packaged Facts .
  • "Whether or not we agree with any or all of the issues related to global warming, it can only do our companies good to adopt a culture of minimizing energy use and waste." Colin Mair, founder of Cormal Technology .
  • "The question is not whether you've had ISO training, but whether you know how to do your job effectively. Some people learn very little in training." Dr. David Rosenblatt, managing director of PDCA Training Solutions .
  • "Keep your eye on human food trends." Krista Faron, market researcher with Mintel .
  • Regarding the US Food and Drug Administration's guidelines for improving petfood safety: "It is essential that the rules be science-based." American Feed Industry Association .
  • "Urbanization in developing markets has established the practical and emotional conditions for animals to go from working possessions to pets." Euromonitor International .