What 8 Super-Successful People Wish They Knew at 22

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By Jacquelyn Smith, Kathleen Elkins, and Rachel Sugar

At 22, you were just graduating from college, entering the "real world," and embarking on your professional journey.

Looking back, maybe you'd rewrite your past - or, perhaps you're content with the decisions you made at that time in your life. Either way, there are probably a few things you wish you knew then that you know now.

That's exactly what LinkedIn asked its network of top minds across all fields to write about for its latest "If I Were 22" editorial package.Successful thought leaders - also known as Influencers - shared original posts, along with pictures of their younger selves, filled with pearls of wisdom for new grads based on what they wish they had known at 22.

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What 8 Super-Successful People Wish They Knew at 22

When the personal finance guru was 22, she and a few friends left Illinois and headed to Berkeley, California, where she spent her days helping clear away trees and brush.

"That was followed by a seven-year stretch of waitressing," she writes. "It wasn't until I was 30 that I landed a job — as a stock broker trainee — that put me on the path that leads directly to where I am today."

She says she wouldn't suggest that every 22-year-old take eight years to find the path they want to pursue — but she does hope that they give themselves the time and space to figure things out.

"That's not a license for laziness. I worked, and worked hard, in my 20s. And I wouldn't trade the experiences I had during that time. But if there is a 22-year-old out there reading this and feeling adrift, I have this to say to you: Been there, done that. And look at me — it all turned out better than fine, right?"

Read her full LinkedIn post here.

"If I could share any advice with my 22-year-old self, it would be very simple: Dream bigger," the "Shark Tank" investor writes.

Herjavec says at 22, he didn't dream big enough — and that's why he didn't quite understand how to channel creativity into something tangible. "I didn't know how to translate my people skills into a career I would be passionate about," he explains. "If I'd known I could do these things, I would have done them sooner."

He says he invests in young people who dream big. "Evan and Nick from Tipsy Elves left successful, high-paying careers to jump head first into the crazy world of Christmas sweaters," he says. "Ashley from Natural Grip pursued her vision wholeheartedly, making the first 150 pairs of grips from scraps in the trash at her husband's office. They all dreamt big and made it happen with whatever they had. They taught themselves along the way and made a ton of mistakes, but they never would have tried without those initial dreams."

Read his full LinkedIn post here.

"If I could go back in time, I'd introduce my 22-year-old self to a quotation by the writer Brian Andreas: 'Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life,'" Huffington writes.

The Huffington Post editor-in-chief notes that out culture is obsessed with time. "It is our personal deficit crisis," she says.

Had she heard that quote when she was 22, Huffington says it would have saved her from the "perpetually harried, stressed-out existence I experienced for so long."

Feeling rushed — or like we don't have enough time to accomplish what we want — which is also known as "time famine," has very real consequences, "from increased stress to diminished satisfaction with your life," she explains. "On the flip side, the feeling of having enough time, or even surplus time, is called 'time affluence.' And though it may be hard to believe, it's actually possible to achieve."

Huffington adds: "As long as success is defined by who works the longest hours, who goes the longest without a vacation, who sleeps the least, who responds to an email at midnight or five in the morning — in essence, who is suffering from the biggest time famine — we're never going to be able to enjoy the benefits of time affluence."

Read her full LinkedIn post here. 

When the Jet.com CEO graduated from college, all he wanted was a job that looked good on his résumé and would pay well. So when he landed a job at Banker's Trust, he felt "lucky."

He soon learned that in banking, "the core motivational driver was personal financial gain, cultivating a fiercely competitive environment," he writes. "Over my six years in finance, I learned to approach my career as an individual sport, where I was judged by the size of my bonus and how quickly I was promoted. One morning I fell to the floor of my office, feeling an electric jolt in my chest as a result of stress. Although it was not a heart attack, the message was clear. I had worked incredibly hard to get to the top but I was there alone — and it was unfulfilling." 

He eventually left that industry to pursue his lifelong dream of being an entrepreneur.

"At 22, I evaluated my first job based on what I could get out of it. But I have since learned that you can achieve much greater success if you focus on what you can give. Ultimately, I have realized that success is not a measure of your salary, title, or degree, but the impact you have others and the collective happiness of the people you touch."

Read his full LinkedIn post here.

The Virgin Group founder's advice to his 22-year-old-self? Don't let your past missteps define you — or anyone else. 

"I am not the person I was 42 years ago. I am not even the person I was two years ago," he writes. "We all change, we all learn, we all grow. To continually punish somebody for the mistakes they made in the past is not just illogical, it is plain wrong."

Be the person who embraces the possibility of change, both in yourself and in others, he advises. "We all deserve a second chance. Next time you have the opportunity to give somebody their second chance, don't think twice."

Read his full LinkedIn post here.

Friedman, a Nasdaq president, stresses that it's okay to change your mind.

After dedicating most of her college years to studying politics and government, she switched gears as a senior and decided to pursue an MBA at Vanderbilt University.

Once you do change your mind, "you are firmly on the threshold of a career that you hope and expect will reward you with meaning, material comfort, and expanding opportunities for years to come," she explains. "In the workplace, that translates into the power of yes — the open door that will lead to more open doors as the years roll by." 

She also advises young professionals to think carefully about their first employer and be sure that the company will provide room for growth and development over time. She suggests you ask yourself: Is this the kind of organization that will repay your loyalty by offering new assignments and projects or by responding when you ask for them proactively? Is it an organization where good work leads to advancement opportunities in the long term?

See her full LinkedIn post here.

"If you are willing to dream and then work hard and execute well, you can achieve more than you ever imagined." 

That's what the Yahoo chairman wishes he'd known at 22.

After his father passed away unexpectedly when Webb was a young child, the family fell on hard times, and Webb's world seemed to shrink. "We lost the air conditioner, hot water, and TV, and we also lost the opportunity to dream about what could be as we were too caught up trying to get by," he writes. 

At 22, he was a recent college grad working as an IBM security guard. "My biggest dream," he recalls, "was to become an IBM manager and own a home." He didn't have a concept of how much higher he could reach. But "a pedigree, while a good stepping stone, was not the only way to get where you need to go," he realized. "The only way to get where you need to go was to actually go for it — to show up, and knock on the door, and then run through it."

Read his full LinkedIn post here.

"Go the extra mile," writes Callum, director of design at Jaguar. "One thing I discovered early on: that extra 10% of effort makes a 100% difference. It really does."

And if your work ethic does not seem to be producing results, believe that it will get better: "When I first started work, I wish there'd been someone to say: 'Don't worry. In four or five years, which seems a long time off but isn't, you'll be in a completely different place. Trust me.' It's important to understand that."

Read his full LinkedIn post here.

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