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A CEO explains why new graduates definitely shouldn’t have a plan

A company logo of U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm is seen on the door of a car in Beijing, September 13, 2014. China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has investigated dozens of foreign firms over alleged "anti-competitive behaviour" - from auto parts makers and milk powder producers to drugs firms and tech companies, including Qualcomm Inc, which faces a potential record fine of more than $1 billion. From interviews with more than two dozen attorneys, executives, and experts, who have been drawn into investigations with the NDRC's price supervision and anti-monopoly bureau, a picture emerges of a culture of intimidation. The agency's aggressive tactics coincide with an increasingly sobering business climate for foreign firms in China. Fears over the ruling Communist Party's support for domestic firms has prompted some to declare the end of a golden age for foreign business in the world's second-largest economy. To match Insight CHINA-ANTITRUST/NDRC Picture taken September 13, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS LOGO CRIME LAW)
Reuters/Petar Kujundzic
Riding the safety car isn’t necessarily the right move for recent grads.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

An engineer by training, Steven Mollenkopf climbed to become the CEO of Qualcomm—one of the world’s largest producers of microchips for mobile devices. As such, you might think he’d be a big proponent of carefully sketched-out career planning. You’d be wrong. Here’s his advice for new college graduates, from a Q&A style interview in today’s New York Times:

What advice do you give new college grads?

Don’t have a plan, because you can underestimate what your abilities are, and you might limit yourself in some cases with a plan. I also think luck is very important. Be sure that you allow for luck to occur, and when it happens, run toward the fire, not run away from it. The people who are really good, and the people you want on your team, are the ones who see an opportunity and they get excited about it versus shrinking away.

You’ve also got to just trust in your own ability. You can fix everything, basically, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

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