Lessons and wisdom from Atlanta’s most powerful

We polled our list of 55 for their reflections on not just how to acquire power, but how to apply it.

Use your power to build a better community rather than for personal gain. —Jeff Graham

Do not attempt to plan your life. Work hard each and every day and great opportunities will come your way. —Sam Olens

Opportunity presents itself—and if you’re positioned with the right attitude and background to step into it, on the other side, you’ll realize you played a leadership role. —Egbert Perry

Never lose focus and never lie. That way your decision-making will be uncluttered, your motives transparent, and your integrity intact. —Mark Becker

Culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that’s completely within the control of the entrepreneur. —David Cummings

Don’t micromanage. High performers resent being micromanaged and will become disengaged. —John Haupert

Really listen, even if it’s not always what you want to hear. —Rebecca Serna

I believe in work-life integration. You have to incorporate the people you care about into your life, as opposed to saying, ‘I’m going to block this time.’ —Kasim Reed

You can’t understand the world from afar, or from a Twitter feed. Seek information. Go experience it. Talk to people. Go deep and learn their stories. —Kevin Riley

Good leadership requires talking less and listening more. —Chris Riley

Learn what the sweet spot of your talent is, exploit that, and then you will love what you do. —Jeff Fuqua

Trust your gut. Your gut is like a muscle. How much time do we spend making our connection to our gut stronger? I’ve learned the best way to do that is to spend quiet time alone and just listen. —Sara Blakely

Get on your knees every morning and pray. —Tim Lee

Embrace your weirdness. If you’re like everyone else, you won’t make it. —Ryan Cameron

Who you work for is more important than what you do. You can be an assistant for someone amazing and it will be life-changing. —Alicia Philipp

There is a difference between power and influence. If you are irresponsible with power, you’ll lose your influence—and ultimately your ability to lead. —Doug Hertz

Power is the intersection of organized people and organized money. —Meria Carstarphen

When young people ask for my advice, I tell them they must be willing to work hard, and as my wife would say, be nice. —Nathan Deal

Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it. It will set you apart from 90 percent of your peers. —Mark Toro

Back to Atlanta’s 55 Most Powerful

This article originally appeared in our October 2015 issue.