Very successful people share their secrets

Think big, plan carefully and execute perfectly. That advice helped guide Martin Edelston when he founded the company Boardroom Inc., which publishes Bottom Line/Personal. In fact, Marty, as we all call him, says that’s the best advice he ever received. He asked us to ask other very successful people what’s the best advice they have received. Here are their responses…

“Use your emotional memories.”

Frank Sinatra gave me this advice during the Rat Pack days in Las Vegas in the 1960s. He was talking about singing — a singer should bring to mind a happy memory when singing an upbeat song and a sad memory when singing about sadness — but Frank’s advice works just as well when you’re trying to reach any audience. It’s important to think about — and feel — what you’re saying so that you really get your point across.

When I want to convey that I’m sad, I call to mind something sad from my life, such as a relationship that ended. When I want to convey happiness, I call to mind something joyous, such as the births of my children and grandchildren.

It wasn’t until after his breakup with Ava Gardner that Sinatra really became huge. Whenever he sang a love song after that, everyone could sense his longing. They all thought that he was singing to Ava… and he was.

From: Vic Damone has been one of America’s most popular crooners since the late 1940s. His hits include On the Street Where You Live, You’re Breaking My Heart, Gigi and An Affair to Remember. Damone recently published his memoir, Singing Was the Easy Part (St. Martin’s).

“Until you’ve got something worthwhile to say, don’t say nothing.”

My dad taught me this when I was a little boy, and I have applied it ever since. It’s the reason that I speak very little, but when I do, it seems to make headlines. When I first came up to the Yankees, I got a lot of respect in that locker room because I didn’t shoot off my mouth. Ever since then, I’ve done a lot of listening in my business proceedings and my daily life. I speak only if I feel I’ll add some value to the conversation.

From: Yogi Berra was named to every American League All-Star baseball team from 1948 through 1962 and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. As manager, Berra led the Yankees and the Mets to pennants. He is author of The Yogi Book (Workman).

“Whatever you do, always be a lady (or a gentleman).”

My mother told me this when I was a girl, and now that I’m a parent, I repeat it to my own daughter and sons. Erring on the side of ladylike or gentlemanly behavior… taking the high road in arguments… being cordial and considerate — these things always will work to your advantage.

Years ago, when I was anchor of the Today show, my career was torpedoed by malicious and even libelous reports in the press. I was tempted to respond verbally, but I resisted. I never said anything that I later had to regret — and that’s one reason I’ve been able to rebuild my career to levels that it otherwise might not have reached.

From: Deborah Norville is anchor of the nationally syndicated news program Inside Edition. She is author of The Power of Respect: Benefit from the Most Forgotten Element of Success (Thomas Nelson) and creator of the Deborah Norville Collection of yarns, available at www.PremierYarns.com and elsewhere. www.DNorville.com

“Cultivate partnerships.”

My father, Robert, and my uncle Larry ran Loews Corporation as partners for more than 50 years. In all that time, I don’t believe that they ever had any trouble working together.

My uncle was mostly a “numbers guy,” while my father was mostly a “people guy.” Each understood his own strengths and weaknesses and saw that the company would be more successful if they worked as a team.

My cousins and I have taken over the leadership of Loews since the deaths of my uncle in 2003 and my father in 2005, but we each know better than to try to run the company alone. We lean heavily on one another.

From: Jonathan M. Tisch is CEO of Loews Hotels, Inc., and co-chairman of the board of Loews Corporation, one of the country’s largest diversified holding companies, New York City. He is author of Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World(Crown).

“You’ll never succeed without me.”

My onetime boyfriend and business partner said this more than 30 years ago when he told me that he was leaving me for my secretary. Ever since then, whenever I’ve been tempted to give up, I’ve remembered his words and told myself that there is absolutely no way I’m going to prove him right.

That might not be advice, exactly, but these words have been the most effective insurance policy for me against failure that I can imagine. So when people tell you that you can’t succeed, prove them wrong!

From: Barbara Corcoran is founder of the multibillion-dollar real estate company The Corcoran Group, New York City, and author of If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails (Portfolio). www.BarbaraCorcoran.com

“Go for it.”

That’s the advice that Dr. Richard Garibaldi, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Connecticut, gave me. He said this to me more than once early in my career when I was uncertain whether my proposals would find support within my department. Richard, a sweet, charming, intelligent man, would listen intently when I shared an idea. He would smile, lean in toward me and — unless the idea was injudicious — softly but forcefully advise, “Go for it.” For more than 30 years, I’ve found that “go for it” is excellent advice. The best option in business and in your personal life almost always is to take the shot and extend yourself.

From: William Schaffner, MD, is professor of infectious diseases and chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville. He serves on the board of directors of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and is a consultant in public health policy for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

“Once you start to believe your own BS, you’re lost.”

When we start feeling invulnerable… when we’re sure that everything is going to go our way… when we start believing our own BS, that’s when we really have to watch out.

Just a few years ago, everyone was sure that nothing could go wrong for the economy. This advice reminded me to keep watching for what could go wrong — and soon things went really wrong. It was Dick Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers, who shared this advice with me decades ago. Obviously, his reputation has taken a beating lately, but I always will value the lesson I learned from him.

From: Allen Sinai, PhD, is CEO and chief global economist of Decision Economics, Inc., an economics and financial markets advisory company, New York City. He joined Lehman Brothers, Inc., in 1983 and served in various positions, including managing director and chief global economist, until 1996.

“To reach your highest potential, live a life of sobriety.”

I used to drink a few beers every evening. I was never drunk and I wasn’t an alcoholic, so I didn’t consider it a problem — until my teacher, Nisargadatta Maharaj, gave me this advice. I realized with everything that I wanted to do in my life… and everything I wanted to learn… and everything I wanted to teach, any drinking would stand in my way. I have not touched alcohol for more than 20 years.

From: Wayne W. Dyer, PhD, is a motivational speaker and author of numerous best-selling self-help books, including Excuses Begone! How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits (Hay House). www.DrWayneDyer.com

“It’s not where you go or who you go with — it’s who you might meet when you get there.”

Don’t turn down a trip to the symphony or the rodeo because it’s not your thing, and don’t turn down an invitation because the person who invites you isn’t your closest friend. You never know who you’re going to meet when you go out and do something. It could be a future business associate or the love of your life. My mother told me this when I was in high school. She was right — I met my future husband, David, while on a date with someone else.

From: Heloise is a columnist and contributing editor for Good Housekeeping. She is author of the syndicated “Hints from Heloise” newspaper column and numerous books on lifestyle management, including Handy Household Hints from Heloise (Rodale). www.Heloise.com

Source: Vic Damone has been one of America’s most popular crooners since the late 1940s. His hits include On the Street Where You Live, You’re Breaking My Heart, Gigi and An Affair to Remember. Damone recently published his memoir, Singing Was the Easy Part (St. Martin’s).

Yogi Berra was named to every American League All-Star baseball team from 1948 through 1962 and was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. As manager, Berra led the Yankees and the Mets to pennants. He is author of The Yogi Book (Workman).

Deborah Norville is anchor of the nationally syndicated news program Inside Edition. She is author of The Power of Respect: Benefit from the Most Forgotten Element of Success (Thomas Nelson) and creator of the Deborah Norville Collection of yarns, available at www.PremierYarns.com and elsewhere. www.DNorville.com

Jonathan M. Tisch is CEO of Loews Hotels, Inc., and co-chairman of the board of Loews Corporation, one of the country’s largest diversified holding companies, New York City. He is author of Citizen You: Doing Your Part to Change the World (Crown).

Barbara Corcoran is founder of the multibillion-dollar real estate company The Corcoran Group, New York City, and author of If You Don’t Have Big Breasts, Put Ribbons on Your Pigtails (Portfolio). www.BarbaraCorcoran.com

William Schaffner, MD, is professor of infectious diseases and chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville. He serves on the board of directors of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and is a consultant in public health policy for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Allen Sinai, PhD, is CEO and chief global economist of Decision Economics, Inc., an economics and financial markets advisory company, New York City. He joined Lehman Brothers, Inc., in 1983 and served in various positions, including managing director and chief global economist, until 1996.

Wayne W. Dyer, PhD, is a motivational speaker and author of numerous best-selling self-help books, including Excuses Begone! How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits (Hay House). www.DrWayneDyer.com

Heloise is a columnist and contributing editor for Good Housekeeping. She is author of the syndicated “Hints from Heloise” newspaper column and numerous books on lifestyle management, including Handy Household Hints from Heloise (Rodale). www.Heloise.com