Today they may be successful beyond their wildest dreams, but at one time, these 15 celebrities were just like you, starting out and perhaps unsure of what direction to take or how to jump-start their careers. Just like anyone else, these U.S. celebrities received good career advice from someone they trusted at that time in their lives, and are now passing that good advice on to others. Much of the following advice is really just common sense, but some of their advice may make you experience your own “Aha!” moment. Pay attention – there will be a fun quiz at the end!

Martha Stewart.

The head of the media and retail empire Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia has one important suggestion to those just starting out in their career: do something you love. “When work is based in passion, it doesn’t feel like work,” Stewart says.

Dana Torres.

The Olympic gold medal swimmer who won her first medal at age 17 and three gold medals at the age of 41 says an early coach gave her some of the best advice she’s ever received: always remember your motivation. “Mark Schubert, the coach who trained me for my first Olympics, ran into me crying in the hallway,” Torres recalls. “I told him, ‘I don’t know how to do this.’ He said, ‘Dara, you need to go back to the reason that you began this journey.’ And once I took the time to remember that reason — which is that I love swimming — I was able to go on.”

Madeleine Albright.

The United States’ first female Secretary of State reminds young people and others just starting out on a career path to believe in yourself and always go after what you want. “Whenever my father saw that I had to take on something difficult or do something that I might not have confidence about, he would say, ‘Strike it,'” Albright recalls. “Coming from Czechoslovakia, he sometimes mixed up English idioms, so that was his version of ‘go for it.'”

Madonna.

The award winning singer, actress and performer recently gave some good advice to newcomer Adam Lambert – stay focused. He recalls that she told him, “Just keep your eye on the prize and put your blinders up. Don’t get sidetracked with all the extra fuss.”

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Dee Dee Myers

The former White House Press Secretary under President Bill Clinton’s administration has some special advice for women in their careers: ask for more -more responsibilities, more resources, and more money. “We have more power,” Myers explains. “We need to recognize it and make sure we use it. Women are still underpaid because they don’t ask. When you negotiate, the person on the other side of the table wants you more than ever.”

Suze Orman

The personal finance guru and author constantly reminds those just starting out in their careers, and even those already firmly established: don’t sell yourself short. In other words, don’t think that you have to work for less just because the economy is poor. “You have to ask for what you deserve, and not feel guilty about it,” Orman suggests. “Do not put yourself on sale.”

Dr. Sanjay Gupta

The CNN correspondent, author and neurosurgeon says, especially in troubled economic times, remember to make yourself a priority. “Make yourself and health a priority by eating seven different colored foods a day, eating less on average–maybe a third less per meal than you’re used to, and exercising just about every day,” Gupta advises. This will help you to excel in your career and in every other area of your life as well.

Jillian Michaels

The life coach and personal trainer on TV’s “The Biggest Loser” counsels people she works with to change your attitude. Ways she suggests doing this include reprioritizing your schedule and finances, making time for yourself, and planning ahead. This will help you succeed in all areas of life, including your career.

Lady Gaga

The singer /musician/performer also has some career advice specifically for women: put your career ahead of romance. “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams,” she says. “If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”

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Tiger Woods

Although the golfer hasn’t been practicing his own advice in his personal life lately, his advice for others is to keep it simple. “When I was young, maybe 6 or 7 years old, I’d play on the Navy golf course with my pop,” Woods recalls. “My dad would say, ‘Okay, where do you want to hit the ball?’ I’d pick a spot and say I want to hit it there. He’d shrug and say, ‘Fine, then figure out how to do it.’ He didn’t position my arm, adjust my feet, or change my thinking. He just said go ahead and hit the darn ball. My dad’s advice to me was to simplify.”

Mort Zuckerman

The chairman of Boston Properties real estate group and editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report reminds those just starting out in a career to give yourself time to succeed. He suggests giving yourself at least three years to try to do something you love and have a real interest in. “I went into a field that I really liked,” Zuckerman says. “I got a job in Boston with Cabot Cabot & Forbes, in real estate development. Since I loved both urban life and journalism — I was a journalism addict when I was 12 years old — all I did was pursue those two careers. And I feel as if I’ve never worked a day in my life.”

Tony Burch

The co-founder and creative director of Tony Burch Design Company says always trust your instincts. “When I started my company, many people said I shouldn’t launch it as a retail concept because it was too big a risk,” Burch recalls. “They told me to launch as a wholesaler to test the waters –because that was the traditional way. But Glen Senk, the CEO of Urban Outfitters and a mentor of mine who now sits on our board, told me to follow my instincts and take the risk.”

Scott Boras

The sports agent and founder/president of the Boras Corporation suggests that you be effective, not popular. Always serve the best interests of your client. “If you are really effective at what you do, 95% of the things said about you will be negative,” Boras counsels. “Keep your head on straight, don’t get emotional, take the heat, and just make sure your clients are smiling.”

Mika Brezinski

The co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” advises that you use failure to motivate yourself. She was unexpectedly fired from CBS news in 2006, and someone told her that one day she’d realize that was the best thing that ever happened to her. “I kept remembering the advice that something ultimately good would come from this. I also realized that for that advice to really come to fore, I couldn’t give up. I finally said to myself, ‘Get over yourself. Just get back in, even if it means a massive step backwards.’ So at 40 years old I got a freelance job that included doing 30-second news cut-ins on MSNBC — a great job for someone just starting out.”

Colin Powell

The former Secretary of State and retired 4-star general reminds you to focus on performance, not power. “Throughout my career, I’ve always tried to do my best today, think about tomorrow, and maybe dream a bit about the future,” Powell says. “But doing your best in the present has to be the rule. You won’t become a general unless you become a good first lieutenant.”

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