Best Advice Ever Got Essay

My roommate told me to stop using drugs

1st place $50

Illustration by Courtney Loi, 15, Sierra Vista HS (Baldwin Park)

Author’s name withheld

Three years ago I went through the roughest stage of my life. I was out of control, nobody could tell me anything, and I was even disrespecting my mom and stealing from her. One day I went to the Del Amo mall and stole two iPhones. That stupid stunt put me in jail, and while I was in there my mom told my probation officer all the things she knew I was doing.

That’s when all my problems came. I went in and out of juvenile halls, camps and placements for two years. In the process of all that I started getting really depressed and built up a huge animosity toward my mom for how everything went, like when I went to jail and broke my arm and she just went home.

When I went to placement I got this roommate, he was a cool guy. We would stay up all night just talking about our problems and maybe smoke bowls. But I was always seeing him get quiet and sniff crystal meth. I always wondered why he did that type of drug since he told me he has a little girl at home and needs a job.

But one night I asked him, “Hey, why do you do it if you know how that drug gets you?” and he said it makes him forget about all his problems and worries about being locked up in placement. I tried it because I was going through too much. 

And he was right, I never thought about nothing that was going on in my life. So I kept doing it, not knowing what I was getting myself into. Some of my friends would tell me I was getting really skinny but I paid no attention to them at all. 

I kept using for a couple more months but I started noticing what my friends were trying to tell me. I went from always smiling and wanting to talk or chill out, to never wanting to be close to people or talk or touch anyone. It got so bad and I got so stressed out I wouldn’t even come out of my room or talk to anyone.

I got to go home one weekend and I did coke, ecstasy and crystal, stole a car and joy rode it for three days and I let my own mother see me strung out on drugs. I told her things that no son should ever tell their mom.

When I got back to my placement all I could do was think. My roommate saw, sat me down and told me to let these drugs go. They’re not worth losing everything you have, including family. He even told me he had been on the street for three years and has to cope with being an addict on crystal meth, with a baby and no education at all. 

That made me see I was really in the wrong. So I stopped. I worked some of the problems out with my mom and went home from placement. I’m on my way to graduating next year and I have been clean and am almost off probation. 

I’m on the right path thanks to my roommate from placement. I wish I could tell him thanks a lot for what he said to me that night. It changed my life forever and I don’t know where I would be today if he hadn’t warned me about the future I was choosing to have. You saved my life. 


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My father saıd I had to be an adult

2nd place $30

Author’s name withheld

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Throughout my life I’ve gotten advice from so many people for different situations. After time, more serious issues started coming along, issues that could ruin my life. The biggest problem that I couldn’t handle was getting my girlfriend pregnant.

I have hope of becoming a father one day with a lovely wife, but when I thought about being a father at 13, it made me sick to my stomach. It all happened one month after having unprotected sex with my girlfriend. Everything was fine that day until she called me at night. We talked like any other day and then she broke down crying. I thought I had done something wrong during the day. Then things got quiet. I asked, “What’s wrong?” She told me she was pregnant. I had no idea what to say so I hung up for the night. I didn’t sleep until six in the morning.

For the next three weeks I didn’t talk to anyone. My dad noticed my change and he confronted me one day after school. He asked me what was wrong and I stayed quiet because I was embarrassed to tell him. I knew I could tell my dad anything but this was just too much for me. I started to break down crying on his shoulder telling him I had ruined my life. My father stayed calm and looked me in my eyes. I told him my girl was pregnant and I could see the surprise in his eyes. He went to his room.

I stayed in my room looking out the window thinking about what I was going to do. My dad came in and sat next to me. I could tell he had been crying by the tone of his voice. My dad told me that he loved me no matter what but that this was my problem and I had to take full responsibility for it. My dad telling me this was shocking because for once he treated me like an adult. My dad told me that he would still respect me and love me if I keep the child or not, but that I would have to become more of a man. Those few words made me see that I wasn’t a kid anymore. I had grown up and didn’t even know it.

I decided to stay with my girlfriend and keep the baby. I knew it was my responsibility. I knew no matter how much it would affect me, it was my choice. Sadly the baby died and my girl and I broke up. To this day I still think about the choices I made and now I try to make smarter decisions. I now see because of my dad’s few words that no matter what, I have to think like an adult and make my own life, not blame my actions on others and fail to take responsibility. A few words my dad told me changed me completely. I respect myself more now and I’m enjoying my life more and more because of the good outcome of my decisions.


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A stranger’s words stuck with me

3rd place $20

By Arianna Valdez, Paramount HS

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Our teenage years are the toughest. We start dating, dealing with heartbreak and spending more time with our friends. Many of us say we plan on going to a community college, others a university. I plan on going to medical school to become a pediatric surgeon. Most of my friends and family have given me great advice about my future. But the best advice I’ve gotten was from a stranger.

Growing up, I loved playing doctor with my mom. I always had toy medical kits all over the house. When I was about 5 years old, I was asked, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” My answer—a surgeon. Throughout my life, I’ve been in and out of the hospital. I’ve had everything from asthma to cancer. So I grew to love needles and became fascinated with medical procedures.

Today, I’m a healthy 16-year-old looking at colleges. My family encourages me because they think about how much money I’d make. My doctors are blown away at the thought of me pursuing the hard work and schooling it will take, but nevertheless, encourage me. Anyone who hears my story tells me I have beautiful ambitions, never a negative word, until I met a certain stranger.

Recently, my mom asked me to go to the store with her. While waiting at the checkout, the man behind me asked my age and what I wanted to do after I graduate high school, so I told him I wanted to become a surgeon. He looked at me as if I were stupid. He said, “Well yeah, doctors make money, but I don’t think that’s what you want to do. You’re going to have 10-plus years of school, when you have these lawyers making thousands an hour for only a few years in school.” He went on talking about how difficult life is, especially with today’s economy. He said it was best if I just went to law school—I’d be rich in no time.

That man, although attempting to persuade me otherwise, gave me something to think about. I’ve always hated politics, government and anything to do with law, and going through school for anything takes extreme dedication. But how can you dedicate yourself to something you don’t love?

Everyone assumes I want to become a surgeon for the money. In a way, they aren’t wrong. I don’t want to be rich, though. I just want a comfortable lifestyle. With everyone talking about me making bank, I started to forget the real reason I chose that path. That reason is to help people. I want to save a child’s life one day, and know I did everything in my power to help them and their family—everything to make them healthy again.

Ultimately, the best advice was from a stranger. Although I had to work a bit to decode the message, his advice was: it doesn’t matter what you choose to do in life, what matters is that you do it for the right reasons. I realized I shouldn’t go for something because it involves high pay. I should do something that I’m going to enjoy doing every day because to get there, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication.


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A friend told me to do what makes me happy

Honorable mention

Author’s name withheld

In eighth grade my parents were getting divorced but unlike most teenagers, this didn’t bother me at all. It actually seemed like a good thing because my parents fought all the time about the dumbest things. My dad decided to move out and visit us from time to time. That’s how things worked for a while, but then my dad said he wanted one of his daughters to live with him. It was only my little sister and me at the time and we felt bad for Dad because he was all alone. My mom said it was up to us to decide who we wanted to live with because she wasn’t going to force us to do anything. I knew my little sister wanted to stay with my mom because my mom was always overprotective of her. I had always been a “daddy’s girl” but I didn’t want to move schools or neighborhoods. I knew that this was going to be a hard decision for me.

I decided to tell my best friend because it was the only thing on my mind for days. She listened while I babbled on and waited for me to finish. She told me, “I know you don’t like being told what to do, but I think that you should do what makes you happy. Make a decision that you know you won’t regret. If you’re doing it to make others happy you’re going to be upset your whole life and you’ll be thinking, ‘Why didn’t I do this instead?’ Think it through and do this for yourself; only for yourself.”

I let her words sink in and for the first time ever I took that advice. I went home and thought about everything. I loved my father and I spent more time with him than my mom so I knew I would get my way if I lived with him. But I also knew that my dad was a strict parent who wanted perfect grades and a well-mannered daughter. If I were to live with him I knew I had to watch my attitude and my actions in order to go out on weekends. My mom was lenient and understanding. She hardly spent quality time with us because she was always busy and tired, but she never got mad at us either. She let us go out but we had to do most of the chores before we could.

In the end, I decided to live with my mom. It was easier to get along with her, I would have more freedom and I wouldn’t have to move schools. The hardest part would be breaking the news to my dad because he was already planning which room I would get and which school I would attend. When we went out to eat I told him I wanted to live with Mom, but it wasn’t because he was a bad father.

To my surprise he wasn’t mad at me. I could tell he was a little upset but he tried to hide it. I knew that if I hadn’t listened to my friend’s advice I would’ve moved in with my dad to make him happy without caring about my happiness. It was a great decision because now he’s married and I know that I would probably feel uncomfortable living with a stranger and a strict parent. My mom is married too but I don’t feel that tension when I’m with them. My best friend was glad that I did what made me happy. She told me that living with regrets was not good and she was right.


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Next essay contest: A moment that changed your life

Most of what happens in our lives every day is the small stuff—we go to school, spend time with our family and friends, and do what we enjoy. But then there are those moments that change our lives, for better or for worse. We want you to tell us about a time that changed your life. Maybe it was something good, like the day your sibling was born or you joined an activity that made a difference in your life, or a bad time like learning that your parents were getting divorced or failing a class. Write about what happened and how it affected you. Maybe you knew right away that it was life-changing, or maybe you didn’t realize it until later. How did this moment change your life? 

Write an essay to L.A. Youth and tell us about it:

Essays should be a page or more. Include your name, school, age and phone number with your essay. The staff of L.A. Youth will read the entries and pick three winners.Your name will be withheld if you request it. The first-place winner will receive $50. The second-place winner will get $30 and the third-place winner will receive $20. Winning essays will be printed in our September 2012 issue and posted on layouth.com.

Mail your essay to:
L.A. Youth
5967 W. 3rd St. Suite 301
Los Angeles CA 90036
or to essays@layouth.com

DEADLINE: Friday, June 22, 2012

 

It doesn’t matter where the words of wisdom come from, we carry them with us like a talisman. A tiny pebble of certainty in the shifting sands of life. We still fall over, lose our way and get grit in our shoes. But somehow being sure of a truth, no matter what it may be, gives us hope. Happy New Year!

1. Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur

My mother, Eve, always taught me never to look back in regret but to move on to the next thing. A setback is never a bad experience, just another one of life’s lessons.

2. Lionel Shriver, author

Sage advice from my old friend Ruth Dudley Edwards is “Get on with it”, a sound approach to everything. If you have the leisure to think about it, you have time to do it.

3. Esther Rantzen, journalist and founder of ChildLine

I like this 2,000 year old advice by Rabbi Hillel: “If I am not for me, who will be? If I am only for me, what am I? If not now, when?” I think it means: “Sort yourself out, protect yourself and ensure your own survival – if you don’t, you can achieve nothing. However, selfishness is empty, so ensure that you make a positive difference to others, and do it now.”

4. Cliff Richard, singer

When I was getting serious about singing, my father told me that if I didn’t make it there was still a life to be lived. Then, when I recorded Move It, he asked me: “Do you really want this? If you do then give it your all and give it all the time.”

5. Jilly Cooper, author

My darling grandmother told me: “Whenever you meet anybody, look for something nice to say about them, because even if they’ve got a hideous face they might have fantastic ankles or lovely hair, and compliments do cheer people up enormously.” She did cheer people up and I always wanted to emulate her.

6. Gordon Ramsay, chef

Put your head down and work hard. Never wait for things to happen, make them happen for yourself through hard graft and not giving up.

7. Michael Vaughan, former England cricket captain

Darren Lehmann, a team-mate of mine at Yorkshire, told me to make sure I ended my career with no regrets. He meant “don’t die wondering”. I took that attitude into Strictly Come Dancing.

8. Antonia Fraser, historian

A very old Marquess once said to me: “No gentleman is ever rude by mistake.” This seems to me a profound observation about the need for courtesy and consideration to all people at all times. Unless, of course, you have good reason for anger, in which case go for it.

9. Prue Leith, cookery writer and author

On clothing: if it doesn’t go in, it can’t go on. I seem to remember it was given to me by an irritatingly flab-free fella.

10. Brian Moore, former England rugby player and Telegraph columnist

An admonishment from Mr Hoyle, my English teacher: “Moore, there are two sorts of people in life, those that do and those that sit on the sidelines and snigger. Do I have to tell you which one is more worthy?”

11. Nic Fiddian Green, sculptor

Gandhi said: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

12. Jo Malone, entrepreneur

Launching my new business, Jo Loves, I chose four key words as my guiding principles: Inspire, Innovate, Ignite, Integrity.

13. Mary Riddell, Telegraph journalist

“Make sure you marry someone who can cook,” from my father who could boil neither a kettle nor an egg.

14. Stephen Bayley, author, design guru

I have three favourites: 1. The old Foreign Office directive: never tell a lie but never tell the whole truth, and never miss an opportunity to go to the lavatory. 2. From Henry David Thoreau: “Beware of all enterprises requiring new clothes.” 3. From Jay McInerney: “Treat everyone you meet as if you have secret information that they are about to become extremely rich”.

15. Matthew Williamson, designer

My co-founder and CEO, Joseph Velosa, said to me years ago: “If you don’t have passion, then you have nothing. If you don’t believe in what you are doing, why would anyone else?”

16. Max Sinclair, English Heritage Angel Awards winner

For National Service I was desperate to join the RAF, but my father advised me to join the Royal Engineers where I’d learn a skill instead. I have no regrets.

17. Alice Arnold, Radio 4 newsreader

When one door closes, it’s shut!

18. Steve Cram, former Olympic athlete

Apart from: “Never leave the bar first because everyone will talk about you,” the best bit of advice I got was from my coach, aged 14. He said I would never achieve anything if I hadn’t already thought that I could. It worked.

19. Joan Bakewell, journalist

When someone annoys you, just imagine them naked. You’ll feel their equal.

20. Camila Batmanghelidjh, charity leader

You’re not that important; it’s what you do that counts.

21. Alex Crawford, Sky News correspondent

Harry S Truman said: “The best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and advise them to do it.”

22. Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Paralympic athlete

My grandfather used to say: “Aim high, even if you hit a cabbage.” It is about having a goal or a dream and never giving up.

23. Daniel Galvin, hair colourist

My mother told me: “The sky’s the limit; it’s there for the taking. But you’ve got to go and get it.”

24. Deborah Moggach, author

“Everything matters, but nothing matters that much.” I read this somewhere, and love it because it strikes just the right balance.

25. Edwina Currie, former MP

A favourite teacher wrote this, from Hamlet, in my autograph book as I left school in Liverpool: “This above all: to thine own self be true. And it follows, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man”.

26. Peter Florence, director of the Hay Festival

My father’s advice to me was that people in rural Wales have the same cultural expectations and aspirations as people in Manhattan or Sydney or Paris.

27. Bel Mooney, journalist and writer

Once I was miserable over a nasty book review and my great friend Bernard Levin told me: “Darling girl, you have to imagine yourself floating high in the sky above them all.”

28. Sir Roy Strong, art historian

Never be seduced by any position you hold and always be first and foremost yourself. Jobs come and go but you go on. My then flatmate, Michael Borrie, told me that when I was appointed director of the National Portrait Gallery, at the tender age of 31, in 1967.

29. Victoria Moore, Telegraph wine writer

You always have more options than you think you have. Every time I feel stuck or trapped I remember this, take my time, and reformulate my plans.

30. Fern Britton, TV presenter

My mother always said: “It is never your extravagances you regret, it is only your economies.”

31. Richard Madeley, TV presenter

Passed on to me by the playwright John Mortimer, who received it in turn from his father: “All advice is useless.”

32. Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen, campaigner and writer

The best advice I have been given, especially since January when my son’s killers were sentenced, is: “Your strength and courage is admired by many. Keep up the good work.”

33. Xanthe Clay, Telegraph food columnist

I once put out a request for dinner party tips in Weekend. Among the (excellent) replies was one that stood out: “Don’t get tipsy till the cheese course.”

34. Ann Widdecombe, former MP

I always tell the young not to be in so much of a hurry. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

35. Jon Snow, journalist and presenter

My first foreign editor at ITN, John Mahoney, told me: “Never touch anyone 'on camera’, and never be seen on television carrying a baby or an animal.” I broke his rule during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. We were almost alone in having a flat-bottomed boat and I found myself carrying a heart attack victim into it. I told my cameraman to focus on the old man, and not on me, in case Mr Mahoney was watching.

36. Lisa Armstrong, Telegraph fashion editor

My mother taught me how to remain sane when faced with the implacable logic of small children: always give them choice, but controlled choice with inbuilt distraction. Not “would you like to eat your vegetables?” but “would you like to eat your vegetables from a green or a yellow plate?” Worked like a charm.

37. Amanda Holden, actress and presenter

“One’s only ambition in life should be to be happy. Nothing else matters”, from my husband, Chris.

38. Dominic Dromgoole, artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe

My mother once said to me before an interview: “Be confident and not arrogant, and don’t be arrogant and unconfident”, which just about hit the nail on the head with me.

39. Mary Keen, garden designer

My tutor at Oxford told me to: “Sleep for 8 hours, work for 8 hours, play for 8 hours.” I didn’t, and my work-life balance would be better if I had.

40. Michael Caines, head chef at Gidleigh Park hotel

“Take criticism constructively, not personally and see it as an opportunity to improve yourself,” from Bill Heads, my lecturer at Exeter College.

41. Goran Ivanisevic, former Wimbledon champion

Never give up, because if you keep believing and trying, anything can happen.

42. Edith Bowman, Radio 1 DJ

My mother Eleanor said: “What’s meant for you won’t pass you by.” It reminds me not to take decisions by others personally.

43. Robin Page, Telegraph columnist

My geography master told me: “When people tell you that there are two sides to every argument, it is nonsense. There are three: your side, their side and the truth.”

44. Tim Rice, lyricist and author

My mum, circa 1955, told me: “Make new friends but stick to old, one is silver, the other gold”.

45. Julian Fellowes, actor and writer

The best piece of advice I ever received was from my mother: “If you want to be happily married, marry a happy person.” I am glad to say I took her at her word.

46. Jack Straw, former Home and Foreign Secretary

When Barbara Castle was appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Security, after Labour unexpectedly won the 1974 General Election, she asked me, then a barrister who knew nothing about health or social security, to be her special adviser. My head of chambers at the time, Sir Edward Gardner MP, asked me: “In 20 years’ time, would you rather be in the British Cabinet or a High Court judge?” I replied “the Cabinet”, which eventually led to my becoming Barbara’s successor as MP for Blackburn.

47. Hannah Betts, journalist

My psychiatrist father always told me to “face my fear”. It has instilled me with a lifelong sense that pluck is all, which, Britishly, I feel it is.

48. Peter Barron, head of external relations for Google

All the best advice I received was from my father, and I even took some of it. My favourite is: “The man who never made a mistake never made anything.”

49. Mark Hedges, editor of Country Life

Michael Clayton, a former editor of Horse & Hound magazine, once said to me: “Fall off as often as possible, your hosts will love you for it.” It proved both tremendous advice and, with my riding skills, easy to achieve.

50. Ai Weiwei, artist

Not many people give me advice, but the most memorable came from a police officer when I was released from the 81-day detention in June 2011. He said: “If you work hard, you can become a good artist.” It has inspired me to work harder to become a good activist.

51. James Corden, actor

The difference between doing something and not doing something is doing something. So just do it. Oh, and try not to take yourself too seriously, it’s just not cool.

52. Ed Victor, literary agent

Nigel Nicolson, MP in the Fifties, said of public speaking: “Always know exactly what you are going to say. Never know how you are going to say it.” Since then I have never had a problem giving a speech.

53. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for education

Since tonic is at least half, if not two-thirds, of a gin and tonic, make sure you choose the right tonic.

54. Marcus Armytage, former Grand National winner and Telegraph columnist

The three good bits of advice I’ve been given are all don’ts: don’t do drugs, don’t join the Moonies, and, from my father: “Don’t hit your horse until you reach the Elbow at Aintree in the 1990 Grand National.” I followed all three with, I hope, more than satisfactory results.

55. Robert Bathurst, actor

When Bob Spiers was directing a Nineties sitcom I did, Joking Apart, he only ever gave me one piece of direction: “Make it funny.” It’s all you need to know.

56. Bobbi Brown, make-up artist

The author Liz Murray said: “If you go through things where you feel like you’re in a dark place, you are not alone. You can change your life. In fact, you can transform your life.” This statement made me realise that no matter what challenges you face, you can overcome them.

57. Phil Spencer, TV presenter

My father used to say: “If you can’t be good, then don’t get caught.”

58. Nicholas Coleridge, president of Condé Nast and author

Make sure you have four good friends: one more handsome, one uglier, one richer and one poorer than yourself. That way you experience perfect contentment and humility.

59. Charlie Gilkes, nightclub impresario

My headmaster used to say: “If you don’t say something like you believe in it, how can you expect others to believe in it?”

60. Christopher Warren-Green, director of the London Chamber Orchestra

“If you feel as if you’re falling off a cliff, remember we can sprout wings and fly,” from Margaret Hubicki, harmony professor at the Royal Academy of Music.

61. Rachel Khoo, cookery presenter and writer

My mother still tells me to “sleep on it” if I have any dilemmas. A night’s sleep puts things in perspective.

62. Christine Hamilton, public speaker

My father used to say: “There are no stumbling blocks in life – just stepping stones in disguise.”

63. Harriet Cass, Radio 4 newsreader

When you look back on your life, you will regret only what you didn’t do. If you’re unsure, ask yourself “why not?”

64. Irma Kurtz, advice columnist

My father used to tell me: “Keep still, Irma, and listen!” Let others speak without interruption to hear more than you expected and sometimes more than they meant to tell you.”

65. Helen Glover, Olympic rower

When I was 13 my athletics coach, Peter Meredith, wrote “carpe diem” in my birthday card. Ever since, “seize the day” has been something I try to bring into daily life.

66. Matthew Norman, Telegraph columnist

“Have a think about another career,” from a tutor on the solicitors’ conversion course I found myself on after applying for what I had thought was a course for prospective barristers.

67. Andrew Lloyd Webber, composer, theatre director

The legendary theatre producer Hal Prince once said: “You can’t listen to a musical if you can’t look at it.” However good the music may be, the show won’t work if the design doesn’t fit.

68. Sir Terry Pratchett, author

The author John Brunner once told me: “Remember nearly everything you are using to write a book is tax deductible.”

69. Lizzie Armitstead, Olympic cyclist

My coach Phil West told me: “Don’t believe your own hype,” reminding me to keep my feet firmly on the ground.

70. Arianna Huffington, author

My mother gave me something better than advice: a sense of unconditional loving. This meant that as I was going for my dreams, I knew that if I failed she wouldn’t love me any less.

71. Alan Hansen, former Liverpool player and Match of the Day commentator

My manager at Liverpool, Bob Paisley, had a go at our defence after a game once and said I was the only person to have played well. He then dropped me for the next game and I didn’t understand why. He told me that it was all about experience, and your knowledge makes you a better player over time. He was right.

72. Simon Mayo, Radio 2 presenter

“Respect the women in the house”, “The easier day is never coming” and “Quality time is a myth”. These are all from The Sixty Minute Father by Rob Parsons, and are invaluable and true. Accept no disrespect to sisters or mother, assume that you’ll always be this busy and you only get quality time by putting in the hours.

73. Sarah Gristwood, historian and royal commentator

On a film location once I wound up confiding to Anthony Hopkins my dreams for the future. He shook his head and told me not just to dream, but to “do it”.

74. Colin Jackson, former sprint and hurdles athlete

Daley Thompson said: “You will never be great on your own, you need to be able to work with people.”

75. Skye Gyngell, chef

From a bumper sticker given to me by a surf shop in Bondi: “Do what you love and love what you do.”

76. Paul Smith, fashion designer

Always give yourself time to think, particularly before you answer an important question.

77. Gretchen Rubin, self-help author

Years ago, after I got a promotion, I asked my boss for any words of wisdom in my new job. She told me: “Be polite and be fair.” That short phrase covers a lot of situations.

78. Richard Dunwoody, former Champion jockey

One of my trainers once told me: “When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”

79. Charles Moore, Telegraph columnist

Alan Watkins, the late, great political journalist, once told me that: “Half-an-hour with Who’s Who is never wasted.” He is right, because a fact about one person mysteriously joins up with a fact about another. Who’s Who tells you what’s what.

80. Santa Sebag Montefiore, author

When we were skiing in Klosters my father would say “It’s sunny at the top”, before heading up the mountain in thick fog. He meant “be positive”, and always be grateful for what you have.

81. Chris Larkin, actor

“Always strive to be a better man.” Kiplingesque words given to me by my stepfather, Bev.

82. Sandi Toksvig, comedian and presenter

My father gave me three excellent pieces of advice: 1. Never trust a man in a ready-made bow tie. A man who cannot concentrate long enough to fasten a bow tie is never going to be a well of nuanced or intriguing conversation. 2. One Vodka Martini is not enough, two is plenty and three is too many. 3. Live your life with passion, or there is no point. You might as well drink three Vodka Martinis with a man sporting clip-on neckwear.

83. Geoff Boycott, cricketer

I took Uncle Algy’s advice: “When two people get involved in a run-out, one of them is going to be very disappointed. Make sure it’s not you.”

84. Chemmy Alcott, Britain’s No 1 female downhill skier

A friend of mine, Eric Dunmore, said: “This injury is an opportunity” when I broke my leg very badly in late 2010. To have someone look on the flip side so positively when you are in a tough place really changed my perception of being injured.

85. Ben Elliot, co-founder of Quintessentially Group

Both my parents always said: “Work hard and be nice to people.”

86. Matt Pritchett, Telegraph cartoonist

Advice from my grandmother: “Never grow old.”

87. John Mitchinson, head of research for QI

“Always walk towards the sound of gunfire.” The late Barbara Castle told me this when I introduced her at a literary dinner along with Jeffrey Archer. I’m pleased to say that as an orator, she wiped the floor with Archer and this exhortation, which means if you think there’s something wrong, there almost always is, is one I turn to pretty much every day.

88. Sarah Beeny, property television presenter

I know it is nauseating but someone I used to work with taught me that positive things happen to positive people.

89. Nina Campbell, interior designer

If you feel like writing an explosive email or letter, write it, but then save it as a draft or keep it in a drawer and revisit it the following day. I find that usually I don’t send it.

90. Lady Annabel Goldsmith, writer and philanthropist

My grandmother, Edith Londonderry, told me to always try to remain impartial in any family squabble and never to interfere or take sides in a marriage.

91. Amelia Rope, chocolatier

Patrick Reeves, who co-founded sofa.com, taught me to: “Keep it simple.”

92. Brian Blessed, actor and explorer

“The greatest danger in life is to not take the adventure,” from Harry Dobson, one of my teachers.

93. George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury

On becoming Archbishop in 1991 a student of mine said: “George, power changes people. Be yourself always. Your integrity is crucial to all you stand for. Value and honour all people and laugh, often, at yourself and the ridiculous antics of the Church.”

94. Annabel Croft, former professional tennis player, TV presenter

A TV producer once told me that the simplest questions were the best ones, and that asking open questions makes people work harder at their answer.

95. James Cracknell, Olympic rower

Abraham Lincoln said: “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe”. No wonder he’s the only US President with a statue in Parliament Square. It took me years to understand the value of this but I genuinely try to abide by it.

96. Susan Hill, writer

If you don’t know what to do, do nothing.

97. Thea Green, founder of Nails Inc

Know what your competition is doing and never stop listening to the customer. They are usually right. And remember that the best is yet to come.

98. Viscount Linley, furniture maker

My father advised me to always strive to do better, learn from my mistakes and aim for perfection. Within my business I encourage this and am always asking: “is this the best of the best?”

99. Wendy Holden, author

One should always be slightly improbable.

100.Paddy Ashdown, Liberal Democrat politician

My father told me: “Never stop learning.”

101. Justin Webb, Radio 4 Today presenter

A cardiologist friend once told me: “Lifestyle changes don’t add up to much, mate, just take the pills and hope for the best.”

Many of those questioned also told us the advice they would most like to pass on. Stephen Bayley, for example, would warn his children never to cook in suede shoes. For many more answers see the article:'Advice that famous people would most like to pass on'.

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