Tony Edwards

Words of wisdom

- 4 mins

Since deciding to switch careers I’ve kept one ear to the ground for good snippets of advice. Here’s 12 of the most memorable pieces I’ve come across through asking people, on YouTube and reading. There’s a few clichés in here, but that doesn’t mean that the’re not good tips.

Put yourself next to the people that do what you want to do.

John Green

If you’re enthusiastic about what you do, people will naturally want to help you get there. There’s no one better placed to help you get to where you want to be than someone who is already there.

Keep breaking things, then figure out how to fix them.

Chris Blunt

The best way to learn something, especially when learning to code, is to keep solving problems. In essence this is exactly what it is to be a programmer. Someone comes to you with a problem and it’s your mission to fix it. Phil from IT West adds that you probably don’t need to break things, other people are more than happy to do that for you.

Be yourself, you’re awesome.

Meri Williams

Thanks for noticing Meri. You’re awesome too.

Don’t look down, don’t look up. Instead look around.

Christian Heilmann

In a recent TED talk Christian discussed the way social media is making us less social. Smartphones are a way of avoiding social contact when travelling, in a similar way to newspapers for previous generations. Instead of looking down, look around you. Start a conversation with the person on the bus next you. Who knows, you may just make a new friend. Ironically, I’m writing this on a train with a set of headphones in, but it still holds true.

If someone tells you it can’t be done, it usually means they don’t know how to do it.

– Chris Sturley

I’ve been told a couple of times that something can’t be done, mainly by my class mates. I remember one occasion when I was told you can’t make things move around on a web page using just CSS. The next day I came in with a CSS only animation of the solar system.

Do just enough planning to get started.

Simon Brown

As a developer it’s tempting to dive straight into code, but a little bit of planning goes along way. Putting pen to paper allows you to see the structure of the code, the way things link together and gaps you may not of even thought about. However, unless you’re adamant on using a waterfall approach, there is little point in planning every minuscule detail before you start. Instead, be agile.

Don’t be afraid to fail.

– Arnold Schwarzenegger

Fear of failure can paralyse you into not starting and you’ll never achieve anything if you don’t make a start. Chances are that you will learn more from failure….. providing that you reflect on why you failed, and importantly how to avoid it next time.

Just build websites.

Chris Coyier

If you want to learn how to develop websites, the best way to simply do it. It’s the only way to figure out the quirks of HTML and CSS in the different browsers. The shop talk show has been great for learning cutting edge development techniques, if you aren’t already a listener you should check it out.

Whichever browser you dislike is the one you should test in.

Dave Ruppert

This sucks, but is true. I’d guess that developers like Internet Explorer the least. Is this because of pre existing bias from the days of Internet Explorer 6 and the blink tag? IE 11 is actually quite a good browser which is fairly standards compliant. It’s also the one you can almost guarantee is on all desktop and laptop computers.

Don’t ask what people can do for you, ask what you can do for people.

– JFK (kind of)

If you’re always out to get something this will come across and you won’t get what you want (unless you’re a salesman). Instead leave people thinking of what you can do for them.

Be nice. Treat everyone like you would your Gran.


Nice folks will naturally gravitate towards nice people. I don’t know about you, I’m not fond of spending time with jerks. Mum always knows best.

You are the sum of your conversations. Nothing more, nothing less.

Mike Lipkin

This is a summary of a number of Mike’s YouTube videos. He’s a motivational speaker that encourages conversation with those around you. Be vibrant. Be interesting. Be unique. That’s the way to be remembered.

There you have it. 12 pieces of advice to digest. I hope that they help you as much as they’ve helped me over the past year.

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