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Phoenix Forward

What's the best business advice you ever heard?

You’ve probably heard all the platitudes about business, work, meetings and, well, life by now: Don’t beat a dead horse. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

They may be common words of advice, but they’re not that helpful. We asked several successful businesspeople from the University of Phoenix community to share the most helpful advice they ever received from mentors, and how they applied the wise counsel to their own careers:

Jonathan Nowling

The best business advice I ever received was from my dad. He said, ‘Your customers pay you, not your boss.’ That’s always served me well. Here’s an example of what I mean: I sold my [lavender products] business earlier this year. The person who bought the business from me decided to shut it down until after the presidential election. All of a sudden, I got frantic calls from my old customers wanting my products. So I started a new business, Sierra Balms, to serve them.”

- Jonathan Nowling, 2006 MBA program graduate and entrepreneur

Laurie Gazzale

I taught [business] at a private Catholic college for seven years. I had tremendous respect for the [nun] who ran the college — she was the most honorable person I ever met. She said, ‘No matter what you do, approach all your business transactions with the highest integrity.’ I have always taken that advice to heart as a financial consultant. As a result, my clients have been with me for decades. They trust me, and they consider me part of their extended family.”

- Laurie Gazzale, MBA faculty member

Patricia D'Urso

My father gave me advice as a young girl that has served me best and longest. This might sound clichéd, but he said, ‘You can only play when your work is done.’ I’ve always followed that advice. I started working in the corporate world at the age of 18. I’m now 71 and still drawing a paycheck. I have no plans to ‘play’ or retire — I will work until I’m no longer physically able. It helps that I love my career, and I’ve also been privileged to work with outstanding faculty and other professionals at University of Phoenix.”

- Patricia D’Urso, MBA/School of Advanced Studies faculty member and HR executive

Maj. Matt Butler

I’ve spoken with many successful entrepreneurs over the years, and their No. 1 piece of advice was, ‘Have persistence and patience.’ Persistence means continuing on even when you have a lull, like when I had a major retailer drop my game, Rollors, because the sell-through rate was too low. I got frustrated at first, but then a year later, that same retailer asked for more copies of the game due to popular demand. Patience can be tough since I’m used to things happening quickly [in the Air Force]. But Rollors helped me develop it because the retail market can take a long time to function. That newfound patience helps me as a military officer.”

- U.S. Air Force Maj. Matt Butler, 2006 MIS graduate and entrepreneur

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