Media mogul Simon Fuller, who guided the Spice Girls to stardom, told graduates after receiving an honorary degree: "Value every day, make the most of every day."
Simon, who has also managed figures including David Beckham, Andy Murray and Lewis Hamilton, gained a doctor of letters from the University of Brighton.
He has amassed a £382 million fortune from a career which has seen him build up the Pop Idol franchise, according to the latest Sunday Times Rich List.
Hastings-born Simon, whose grandfather was a headmaster in the East Sussex seaside town, received his doctorate at the summer graduation awards at the Brighton Dome.
He told graduates: "If you follow your intuition then - trust me - it will work. You'll be better at everything. I have been lucky enough to do what I love to do.
"Value every day, make the most of every day. There's something about youth that you don't quite value time as much, so really make the most of every day.
"Every day is precious, don't waste it."
Carol Burns, the university's registrar and secretary, said: "Simon's is not a rags-to-riches story but it is the story of a young man from a then-sleepy coastal town who was not afraid to take on the most powerful forces in his world."