James Patterson, Arianna Huffington & More Recall Ditching Some Career Advice — Yes, Ditching

Sure, we’ve all heard our share of career advice and applied it to succeed on the job and land a new one. But according to a piece on Forbes, some successful (and we do mean successful) media folks were pretty happy to ditch some career advice they were given. According to the piece, here’s a look at what they had to say:

James Patterson, bestselling author, was told to stay away from writing fiction! He recalled, “My first runner-up occurred while an undergraduate, and came from a creative writing professor: ‘You write well enough, but stay away from fiction.’ But my favorite advice was issued by a Hollywood studio head: ‘Alex Cross has to be a white man. Do a fast rewrite.'” [Tyler Perry will play Alex Cross in an upcoming film adaptation of ‘I, Alex Cross.’ Morgan Freeman has also played the character.]

As for Arianna Huffington, co-founder of The Huffington Post, it’s a good thing she didn’t ditch her passion for writing after being told to get a job.

“It came at one of the low points in my life — when I was 26 and my second book had just been rejected by 25 publishers. At this point I was told to forget about writing and get a ‘real’ job. But my desire to write turned out to be stronger than my fear of poverty. I walked into Barclay’s Bank in St. James Square in London and met with a banker named Ian Bell. With no collateral, other than a lot of Greek chutzpah, I asked him for loan. Even though I didn’t have any assets, he gave me one. I will never forget that manager, Ian Bell — to whom I still send a Christmas card every year — and I will never forget the way that loan changed my life. It meant I could keep things together for another 13 rejections — and then, finally, an acceptance. Of the many things my mother taught me, the one that’s proved most useful in my life is the understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success.”

How about Joni Evans, CEO of wowOwow and former literary agent and publisher? Evans recalled: “I really never have had bad career advice except from my mom in 1965 and that doesn’t count. When I was just getting out of college, she told me to NEVER take a job that required typing or I’d be cast as a secretary all my life.  So I went around looking for an editorial job (even then) and no one would hire me.  Secretly, I went to some summer typing school and excelled…80 words a minute (probably higher today).  In about two seconds I landed a job in the fiction department of McCall’s Magazine and I’ve been typing my way up the ladder ever since.”

Ali Velshi, chief business correspondent at CNN, was told to not count on Plan A. “Worst career advice I ever got was to have a good Plan B; a strong backup plan in case things didn’t work out as planned. I’ve since learned that you stand the best chance of success by having NO Plan B, but by engaging in a relentless pursuit of Plan A.”

Glenn Beck, host of The Glenn Beck Program and founder of GBTV, indicated not playing the game has served him well.

“The worst advice I ever got was ‘sometimes you have to compromise a little and “play the game.” Any success I’ve had in my life has occurred when I intentionally ignore that advice. In fact the best advice I ever got was the direct opposite — when I was a top 40 DJ, my father told me to start talking about things that interested me and that I believed in.”