Careers

7 successful women reveal the worst career advice they've ever received

There are important lessons here, too!

When we look up to women in positions we’d like to hold in the future, we often ask questions like, “What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?” This information is always helpful, but you know what’s also interesting, and not discussed as much? Asking successful people, “What’s the worst career advice you’ve been given?”

Here, some of the leading career women who are part of our amazing Win a Mentor initiative share the worst career advice they’ve received, and what they learned from it.

Andrea Ingham, director of sales, Spotify

“In the past I’ve been encouraged to lie, often to cover up an issue, but honesty is always best. Lies, however well intentioned, always get revealed. Learning from mistakes, and fostering an environment where learning by making mistakes is acceptable, is really important to me.”

Jan Fran, co-host, The Feed

“Acting is not a real job. I listened.”

Shivani Gopal, founder, The Remarkable Woman

“‘Work for the government, it will always be stable.’ But if life remains stable, you are not growing. It’s about taking risks, pushing the boundaries and pursuing your every growing potential! Needless to say, I didn’t take that advice.

“The second is: ‘I tried that too, it’s terribly hard and it’s not going to work.’ It is so important to know yourself in these circumstances, because if a career opportunity didn't work out for someone else, that doesn’t mean it won’t work out for you.”

Fiona Reynolds, director, ABC Regional

“To give up my career as an international model and become a journalist. OK, never happened!

“If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to slow down… Well, you can complete the saying.

“It’s impossible to slow down when you have your eye on an outcome, it’s not in your nature to take things slowly, you’re happy working at a fast pace and take regular breaks to recharge. All I have to be mindful of is the impact on my family and my workmates. Obviously I don’t want to break them.”

Roxy Jacenko, founder and director, Sweaty Betty PR

“I don’t think I’ve ever had bad career advice, I think the most important thing to do is take all advice you receive and consider it – any advice will shape you and make you a better employee. It’s just how you use it.”

Selena Mazuran, founder, FBI Fashion College

“I was advised not to start a business and to stay in a safe corporate job. Glad I didn’t listen!”

Sharon Plant, CEO, Avon

“To leave my job at Avon – this was early in my career, so often it might be easier to leave a job or situation that is challenging rather than embrace it as an opportunity to grow. I decided not to take the advice I was given and very soon after the opportunity came of my first expatriate assignment to Finland.”

For your chance to win one of these inspirational women (or someone else) as your mentor for a year, enter our competition here, and pick up the April issue of Cosmopolitan with Hilary Duff on the cover for more information.