The Inspiration Issue: Words Of Wisdom From The Creative World

Actors, musicians, comedians and industry insiders give their advice on how to win at life

Barney Artist

Emerging east London rapper with a message

“My advice is for people who feel stuck in a job while chasing a dream. Success doesn’t come in an instant, so don’t be discouraged if it’s not happening as soon as you’d want it to. Don’t allow ‘social media envy’ to corrupt your drive. There’s a special unique path you have to go through to achieve your goals – just make sure you always work hard and never give up.”

2016_barneyartist_zoemcconnell_061016_croppedZoe McConnell

Ricky Gervais

Comedy legend and creator of ‘The Office’


“I think for inspirational quotes about careers you can’t beat [Winston] Churchill’s, “If you find a job you love, you’ll never work again.” Follow your passions and work hard. I really think trying your hardest at something you care about usually ends well. And if you do something you love every day, it’s hard to ever feel that you’ve failed.”

2016_rickygervais_3_deanchalkley_110816-3_croppedDean Chalkley

Gizzi Erksine

Rock’n’roll chef and author

“The best bit of advice I was ever given was that success doesn’t just come from ambition. It comes from absolute investment in what you do. You need to work hard. Study hard. Manifest your dreams and be yourself. I know it’s a cliché, but being yourself is one of the main keys. The world is full of people trying to be like each other. The more unique you are, the more interesting you are to people, but ultimately it’s about two things: talent and giving a bigger f**k about what you do than anyone else.”

Gizzi ErskineGetty


Katherine Ryan

Very funny stand-up comedian

“Never argue with an idiot; people won’t be able to tell which one’s the idiot. You can’t reason with someone who’s unreasonable and you’ll only frustrate yourself if you try. Fixing a broken man is a fool’s errand. You’re wrong if you think you deserve to be understood. Know when to walk away without explanation. Don’t say sorry if you aren’t. There are plenty of stupid people making more money than you because they’re too dumb to know they’re stupid. If you have passion and determination, you can become President of the United States.”

2015katherineryan_bellahoward_nme_cropped_150915-2Bella Howard


Riz Ahmed

‘Star Wars’ actor and Swet Shop Boys MC

“The best advice is what Idris Elba told me – don’t internalise the limits people put on you. It’s their issue, not yours.”

Riz AhmedGetty

Peter Serafinowicz

‘Shaun Of The Dead’ actor

“I read a book about ADD recently and the guy who wrote it, Douglas Puryear – a psychiatrist who was diagnosed late in life with adult ADD – made a rule: if your children ask you to play with them, stop what you’re doing and play with them. They grow up fast.”

Peter SerafinowiczGetty

Craig David

Resurgent UK garage legend

“Follow your intuition. Every time I’ve followed my gut instinct it’s always led me to a better place, even if it’s seemed a little scary at the time. When you have a creative idea or feel like you wanna make that move or change something, you need to act on it as that’s where all the magic is.”

glasto16_craigdavid_aford-9586_croppedNME / Andy Ford


Grime’s newest big deal

“The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is being told by my mum as a young boy, ‘You don’t have to talk for conversation’s sake, ever. You choose what you want to say. And when you practice this way of living, you’ll be able to hear and understand things on much a higher level. And your yes will be a yes and your no a no.’ That statement as a child took a lot of pressure off of my shoulders.”

2015novelist_press_marcogrey_070115_croppedMarco Grey

Lady Leshurr

Fast, furious and downright brilliant Brummie MC

“Always be you. Never sell yourself short. Build the brand, and inspire before you expire!”

2016_ladyleshurr_2_zmc_230816-2_croppedZoe McConnell


Laurie Vincent

Excellent artist and guitarist in Slaves

“I read a great article on [Kanye West collaborating artist] Wes Lang and he quoted a film. ‘Don’t be a product of your environment, make your environment a product

of you.’ I think that’s a solid mantra for life.”

2016_laurencevincent_1_jh_140316Jordan Hughes

Will Arnett

‘Arrested Development’ legend and the voice of Lego Batman

“Dance like everyone’s watching.”

Will ArnettGetty Images


Dumi Oburota

Music mogul and Tinie Tempah’s manager

“The best bit of advice is that what you put in is what you get out. Every hurdle in life is a challenge and when you get over it you don’t regret having that challenge. Everything is a challenge – just trying to think 
of trying to do something is a challenge. Nothing’s ever smooth, there are always hard times and rocky times. Every mistake is a good mistake. The person who inspired me to be driven was my dad. He was a really hard-working man – no matter what he did, he was 
just hard-working. He was a businessman, but then when he went through the recession he was a cab driver. He always put food on the table, so I think he really inspired me.”

Dumi Oburota


Hannah Beasley

Social director, Iris Worldwide

“The best piece of advice 
I was given was, don’t feel like anything is below you. So if 
you get offered an opportunity, just go for it. It might not feel 
like your absolute dream job, but you never know what it’s going to lead to, so always be open.”


Tom Seymour

Creative director, Google Creative Lab

“Be brave and be strong. You have to be willing to let some ideas go. The first job you 
land might not be your dream job, but if you work incredibly hard in that job you’ve landed you might eventually get to 
the job you want. Make the 
most of the job that you’re 
doing now and take away and learn as much as you can.”



Heydon Prowse

Actor, comedian and activist

“What inspires me to be driven? I just think realising the sh*t other people are going through in other places, and realising your opportunities, is a really quite inspiring thing. I’ve done a lot of work with the refugee crisis and just seeing the situation that Syrians find themselves in right now, you just think to yourself, ‘Jesus Christ.’ There’s been a civil war for almost five years now and that’s a huge chunk of their lives. They spend another year trying to get to Europe and then they spend another year trying to get citizenship, and then, ‘Alright, fine, it’s like six years, seven years down the line, now I’m going to start my career.’ It’s like, Jesus, that’s such an impediment for people. And the fact that we live in a stable country is opening your eyes to all of those opportunities around you.”


Phil Kemish

Music industry insider and founder of the Rated Awards

“I think some of the best words of wisdom were from a guy called Russell Simmons, who’s one of my idols. He started the Def Jam record label. He had this book and one of the chapters was ‘Start In Order To Succeed’. I think there are a load of people out there who have a great idea,but they just sit on it. It could be years, it could be months, but the best piece of advice is just to start. Whether it’s registering a website or getting your friends involved in the idea, I think ‘start in order to succeed’ is the best way to make things happen.”


Holly Fulton

fashion designer

“If I could give advice to my younger self I’d say, ‘Don’t be too cautious.’ A lot of the best things that have happened to me have been things I’ve just reacted to and taken those opportunities very quickly. They might seem big decisions, like when I was offered my first catwalk in London. I had six weeks to make the whole collection and I was still living in Scotland, but I didn’t hesitate. I was just like, I have to do this because I won’t get this chance again. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Things may not always go smoothly, but it can lead to the most amazing results.”


Daniel Efergan

Digital creative director, Aardman Animations

“Your brain’s very spongelike. If you suck stuff in from the world around you and the people that inspire you, when you squeeze it back out again there’s nothing new and interesting there. So to think differently you’ve gotta do weird stuff. Have an ice cream, go to a gallery, do ukulele team playing… whatever it takes to get something different in your brain.”

2016_danefergan_garethiwanjonesGareth Iwan Jones

And finally… NME staffers on the lessons life has taught them

Tom Howard

Deputy Editor

This advice was given to me as a writer, but it’s pertinent for everyone – it’s not about the writing, it’s about the rewriting. It’s extremely rare for any writer on any publication to not get edited. Most writers will be asked to make some changes to a piece of writing. All the great writers use this as an opportunity to make their work even better than it was before.


Leonie Cooper

Senior Staff Writer

Never give up. Don’t let rejection get you down. Stay focused. Make connections with people – and keep them. Be nice to everyone – and mean it. Learn how to compromise – sometimes. Always have an emergency bar of chocolate in your bag.


Dan Stubbs

Commissioning Editor

You can find all the life advice you need in pop music: “Shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to” (The Smiths), “Don’t carry the world upon your shoulders” (The Beatles), “Don’t criticise what you can’t understand” (Bob Dylan) and “Don’t eat stuff off the sidewalk” (The Cramps).




Get more from NME #LifeHacks

If you didn’t make it to NME #LifeHacks, you can check out inspiring videos from the day at NME.COM/LIFEHACKS. NME #LifeHacks was a joint venture with Create Jobs, an inspiring organisation that helps young Londoners 
aged 16-25 find work and opportunities in the creative industries. In their own words: “We believe diversity is the creative industries’ greatest strength, so we’ve made it 
our mission to fill London’s creative industries with fresh, young and local talent. We find, inspire, train and place people in entry-level positions across the industry. And we advise and support an amazing group of employers, without whom none of our work would be possible.”

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