professional life and career advice

Life & Career Advice You Can Use, c/o of Shaq, Ibn Jasper, & Director X

Just when your morning mantra needed a refresh.

When you’re given the opportunity to pick someone’s brain, especially someone you idolize, the best move is to talk advice, hurdles they’ve faced, and, well, any other burning questions you may have about their career path. Soak it all in like a sponge. Over the years, we’ve asked many of our Cov alums to tell us the best piece of advice they’ve ever received. Not only are the answers eye-opening and motivating, they’re also good bits of inspiration to keep in your back pocket. Below, some of our favorites from the best in the biz.

Shaquille O’Neal

Sports Analyst on Inside The NBA; Retired professional basketball player

professional life and career advice
All the greatest leaders are the ones smart enough to hire people smarter than them.”

Johanna Stein Birman

Model; Social Activist; CHANEL Ambassador

professional life and career advice
“I always take the advice people give me very seriously. I grew up with a very serene father, and he was always telling me, ‘No matter what, you should face life with serenity. No matter what happens to you in a stressful situation.’ Serenity is my favorite word because in Portuguese it is ‘sereno,’ which means peaceful, calm, quiet, unruffled, smooth—but it’s also the dew that comes very early in the morning, so it’s my favorite word. I always keep serenity in mind. I listen much more than I talk. I listen four times and I talk once, if it’s necessary.”

professional life and career advice
“The best piece of advice I’ve ever received was from this dude, I used to cut his hair—he was this street guy in Chicago. He was this guy that kind of like, you know in the mafia they will be like, ‘This guy got made’? He is the guy that ‘made’ me, like as a barber. I remember—this is in the ’90s, when I started cutting his hair—and he had basically everything that Puffy and Biggie rapped about—Land Cruisers, Rolexes, all of this type of stuff. He would always come through Chicago dressed up—lizard cowboy boots and tailored everything. He would get his shirt tailored so the left arm was always shorter than the right arm, so the Rolex would always show. In Chicago it is all about showing up. This was like Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, Polo, when that was the hottest shit out. I would always wear all that type of stuff when I was cutting hair in the salon. I remember him saying to me one day, he was like, ‘I see you’re fresh. I know you look in your closet and you will be like, “Look at all of this garbage.”’ I was like, ‘What?’ He was like, ‘Man, I just have this stuff so that people will buy work for me. I have to look successful so that people will buy drugs from me.’ That connected with me, with the whole thing I was thinking about in high school. I was really just dressing like this to move in and out of these doors without really being noticed. He was doing the same thing I was doing.”

professional life and career advice
“Never give up on your dreams. Anything that you believe in is possible, as long you believe in yourself and you work hard.”

Emma Grede

Founder of ITB Worldwide; Co-founder of Good American

professional life and career advice
“It’s going to be from my husband, and he said to me that you should make a decision and move on. You’re going to make good decisions, you’re going to make bad decisions, but the worst thing is to procrastinate. You can’t be frozen by things. You should go with your first instinct. I have it as a sticky on my laptop.”

Director X

Director & Producer

professional life and career advice
“The best piece of advice I ever received: That voice inside that’s telling you, ‘You suck,’ don’t listen to it. My mentor, Hype Williams, told me that. Then he said, ‘You suck.’ So it was weird [laughs]. [It was like,] listen to me when I say you suck, but when you say ‘you suck,’ don’t listen. But, yeah. One of my first big music videos... I fucked it all up. I was in a deep depression and considering quitting, and he gave me that pep talk.”

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