The Toughest Advice I Ever Got … Was the Best Advice

tough adviceHave you ever heard the phrase "we're tough because we care"?

That's the philosophy LearnVest C.E.O. Alexa von Tobel abides by when it comes to personal finance, noting that tough advice can often be great advice.

"One of the most valuable pieces of advice that I ever heard was from an investor who told me that 'people simply live too big,' " she says. "It's one of the main reasons why we have so many financial problems in this country today, because it's such a hard thing to reverse. That advice has stuck with me for years—and it influences how I manage my money and my company every day."

Of course, tough advice can have a lasting impact on any aspect of life—be it retirement, your career and even accepting credit where it's due. So we reached out to readers to hear about the hardest to hear—but best—life advice they've ever received ... because we care.

To see the slides in one long list, click into the slide show and select "list view."

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  • Brandy Oliver

    “Now get your butt back to work and stop making excuses. Take 100% responsibility for your actions and decisions”

    This guy.. Can he come work with me? Actually, can we just have someone like this guy work everywhere?

    • cranky

      yep – I figure like – winners take responsibility for their lives, identify what they want and ask for it, fall down and make mistakes, and get up and keep trying until they get the results they want

      losers try once, fail, give up and spend the rest of the time telling people it can’t be done, blaming others for their failure and looking jealously at winners’ results saying they must be ‘lucky’ …

  • paganheart

    Good suggestions all, but I have to question the woman who said she tells her employees: “I don’t care how they get it done, but I want their work to be high-quality.” To me, not caring about how something is done, so long as it is done well, is dangerously close to “the end justifies the means,” and can set up a situation where employees behave in ways that are unethical and/or immoral, if not outright illegal.

    I once worked for a company that was regarded as highly successful and “respectable,” but beneath the surface there was a tremendous amount of fraud, waste and abuse going on. The bosses made it very clear–through word and deed– that you would be rewarded if you were successful and did “high-quality work,” even if you bent (or broke) laws and rules to do it. So much so that many more honest employees were put in the situation where they could not succeed, unless they behaved in the same unethical, dishonest ways. I was one of those people, and I finally walked out the door (to the shock of many friends and family who couldn’t believe I would walk away from such a “good” company) because I just could not live with myself anymore.

    It is all well and good to want your employees to do “high-quality” work, but unless you make it abundantly clear that cheating, fraud, abuse, waste and other illegal and immoral activities will not be tolerated, you are part of the reason why no one trusts corporations (or governments, schools and churches for that matter) to do the right thing anymore.

  • Curvy CEO

    Even though I love almost everything I read on LearnVest this really knocked it out of the park for me…this advice is golden! Not at all what you’d usually hear. Also, I am very encouraged to see that most of the testimonials are from women 45 and older. As someone who is just hitting my mid-thirties, I sometimes feel like I should have things “figured out” by now…glad to know that there IS life, learning, and growth even after you hit middle age!!

  • Jillian

    Someone who recently read my memoir, HERE I STAND, emailed and asked me how I was able to raise three kids, go to college and work full-time. This woman was feeling
    overwhelmed by all that’s going on in her life. I sent her this tough advice
    that I got from my mentor and editor at the Wall Street Journal when I was in
    college. Sometimes life does seem overwhelming, and when that happens I
    remember what Frank told me. Then I stop feeling sorry for myself and get back
    to work. That’s the only way dreams will turn into reality.