Adena Friedman was named Nasdaq CEO in 2017.

  • Adena Friedman spent two decades at Nasdaq, the second-largest stock exchange, before being named CEO in 2017.
  • Friedman gave tips on how to have a career like hers on an episode of Business Insider's podcast "This is Success."
  • Her best advice? Say yes to opportunities early in your career and regularly ask yourself, "What would I want to do next?"


Adena Friedman has spent more than two decades at Nasdaq, taking on every challenge thrown at her, including seemingly insignificant projects.

Friedman started at Nasdaq in 1993 after completing her MBA at Vanderbilt University. She went on to serve as COO, CFO, and now CEO. Friedman gave tips on how to have a career like hers on an episode of Business Insider's podcast "This Is Success."

"Well, the first thing is: take those opportunities when they're given to you, because oftentimes they are offered up and it's a matter of you realising that even if it feels overwhelming ... you can do it," she said.

Early in her Nasdaq career, Friedman, then 28, was tasked with a project that wasn't central to trading and hadn't been touched for 10 years, she said. She took the project head on.

"I mean, even though it's, like, this product that no one really thought much about, it was an opportunity for me to have a lot more autonomy by taking something that people didn't care as much about it," Friedman said. "It actually makes it so you can have a lot more impact on it and you can have a lot more autonomy."

She continued: "So I think that if you say yes to your opportunities early on in your career, and you think about also having some level of goals as you go through your career - they can change, but at least always looking forward and saying, 'What would I want to do next?' - that it really helps drive you, and it helps keep you focused, but it also opens you up to opportunities that you may not have realised were there."

Friedman looks at her own success in two ways: personal and professional. Friedman says she looks to her home life first, considering her children's welfare.

"Then I look at my profession, and I say, 'Well, have I achieved everything that I could have achieved with the skills that I have? Have I brought my best self to the job every single day, and do I treat every day as Day One?'" Friedman said.

"Because that to me is the most important thing that I can do for the success of the company."

Listen to the full episode and subscribe to "This Is Success" on Apple Podcasts or Art19.

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