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Embrace Your Passion and the People Who Challenge You

02/23/2015 05:03 pm ET | Updated Apr 25, 2015

"Advice is like cooking -- you should eat your own before you offer it to others."

Many people are so free with advice, but often, they have either no experience or basis for giving advice. No one likes BS, yet it seems to be many advice-givers' favorite ingredient.

Here are a few tried-and-true (and BS-free) mantras for success:

1. "If you are the smartest person in the room, find another room." No matter how good you are at what you do, you always have more to learn. There are endless flavors of "smart." Find people with high IQ, high EQ, or are just really funny or curious.

2. "Learn from people who are a different kind of smart than you are." Especially those who work in different fields or come from drastically different backgrounds. They probably have the most to teach you. I often start meetings and speeches with the expression: "I already know what I think, but I'm more interested in what you think." And then I invite the room or audience to ask questions and start the conversation. Oh, and you actually have to mean it when you say it and open yourself up to listen to what people have to say.

3. "Embracing people who challenge you" rather than suck up. I learned at my first job as a trial attorney that nothing tests the strength of your ideas -- and your conviction in them -- like a heated argument. Conflict is good if you can listen carefully to the people who disagree with you. And don't listen to what they say, listen to what they feel. Then ask yourself, why does this person feel so strongly and why don't I feel the way they do?

4. "Passion is critical."

If you want to be successful, follow your passion. One caveat: your passion can't be about making money. Yes, we all need to earn a living, but find something you genuinely care about deeply ... and focus intently on how you can take great pride in excelling. Simon Sinek likes to say, "People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it."

Do it because you can't not do it.