What Is The Best And Worst Career Advice You Have Ever Received?


The web is littered with advice from A to Z on pretty much every subject under the sun from house keeping to horse care management.   Careers advice is no different.  For that reason, I decided to approach this article from a different angle. A Reddit angle.  Having recently discovered Reddit, I thought it would make a great place to ask my question.  Reddit is a community of people not afraid to share their opinion at the drop of a hat, regardless of how blunt or sharp it may be.  Now thanks to the Reddit community and more specifically the r/AskReddit subreddit we have this post today.

You will often hear ‘its not what you know, but who you know’.  SpacePuzzle doesn’t quite agree:

“It’s who you know” and “It’s who you know” SpacePuzzle

A well known turn of phrase referring to the fact if you know someone in the company you can have an advantage over those that don’t know someone.  It can lead you  to getting a foot inside the interview door or even being hired!  SpacePuzzle also listed it as the worst advice, which is understandable if either your level of knowledge is well below that required for a job you are applying or if you know no one at the hiring company.

never quit

“Never quit” and “never quit” FalsePulse

Never quit‘, the war cry of many a sports team, celebrity or writer.  Whatever the odds, situation or task you face, never give up.  Certainly the world would be a completely different place today, if everyone had given up when the tough got going.  However this can be a double edged sword and we have to be realistic about what can be achieved.  You are not going to be able to walk and swim around the world non-stop in 80 days without food or water, but you can do it in 11 years with food and water.  The key is obviously being adept at working out what is realistic and what is not.

“Ditch your principles, they will only hinder progress” pilgrimgunner

Another piece of advice offered as the best and worst received.  Both can apply to a variety of circumstances.  Maybe you are the boss and you don’t want to  make your employees redundant, but if you don’t, your company will become bankrupt.  At the same time principles are part of what makes you you. We have them for a reason and must respect them.  In the words of Dwight D Eisenhower “A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”

Best: “Follow your heart and the money will follow.” Still waiting for that money, but I’m a lot happier. :-)

Worst: “Just major in Finance. It’s kind of like math, but easier.” The ensuing 5 years of soul-crushing corporate work was less than pleasant.


Following your heart, with the hope of the money following is often touted, due to the fact that if you are working in something you are passionate about, you will give it 100% (at a minimum).  You enthusiasm for the job should be obvious and this will often bring various benefits.  For example, your colleagues and clients will feed off this energy, which will have positive impacts on you and your career.

‘Just major in Finance..’  Finance is not for everyone.  Like many a career, not all personalities and careers are suitable for each other, it is just a case of trying to figure which suits you in time.

Best: “Be an accountant. You’ll be good at it”. I am.

Worst: “Never say you’re sorry”.


In start contrast to the finance advice above, Flashback found that the specific advice to be an accountant has worked out well for him.  The fact that he does well at his job, obviously has a strong impact on why he considers it among the best career advice he has ever received.

He was also once advised to ‘never say you’re sorry’.  A strange bit of advice if ever I heard it.  Given by the son of a successful business owner, it is difficult to comprehend where this advice could apply well, maybe if you were a loan shark, some kind of enforcer or criminal kingpin.  It is also likely the kind of advice given to you by lawyers, who don’t want you to admit liability, which could cost you dearly in court.

I would like to round off this post with words of wisdom from some real high flyers who gave their best and worst career advice to Marketing Magazine.

Best Advice

‘The best career advice that I ever received came from my boss in my first ‘proper’ job, at Lastminute.com. He helped me understand that my career development was my responsibility – not my line manager’s, not the HR department’s and not the company’s.’

Jon Davie
Managing director

Be proud of your skills, but realistic about what you don’t know in the workplace. It’s stood me in good stead, kept me humble and taught me to respect others. It has also enabled me to focus on honing what I’m good at, listen to others, collaborate more and be a better manager.

Allan Blair
Head of strategy
Tribal Worldwide London

Worst Advice

“Move around a lot”. It can take two to three years of work to really have an impact on a brand’s performance, so it’s good to stay a while when you’re starting out to demonstrate your focus on results and willingness to learn.

Michael Magee
Vice-president Marketing
Mars Chocolate UK


My worst piece of career advice was to think long and hard about big decisions. While this isn’t always the wrong approach, some situations require far quicker judgement. Armed with all the facts, there are some decisions I wish I had made sooner. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

Nina Bibby
Marketing and Consumer Director
Telefonica UK

We end the article with a video of Ariel Investments president Mellody Hobson explaining the best advice she ever received.

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