The Best Advice a Boss Ever Gave Me

From a Wall Street Journal story headlined “The Best Advice a Boss Ever Gave Me”:

Truly good advice from your boss—the kind that turns a manager into a mentor—is rare enough that when it comes, it stays with you (sometimes as a Post-it note permanently attached to your monitor).

As part of a special deep dive into ways to improve one’s work life, we turned to luminaries in the fields of design, fashion, food, technology and travel and asked them for the best counsel a supervisor ever gave them. The wisdom that stood out amid all the platitudes and buzzwords. Read on for universally applicable lessons on martial punctuality, culinary experimentation and more.

José Andrés

“As a teenager, I worked for the legendary Ferran Adrià at El Bulli—one of the most creative people ever. One day I was frying artichokes and he had an idea to add gelatin to the hot oil. We thought he was crazy! And he was: It exploded everywhere. But from that idea, he created some incredible dishes. He wasn’t afraid to fail, which inspired me to always take risks.”

José Andrés is a chef, founder of World Central Kitchen and author of “The World Central Kitchen Cookbook: Feeding Humanity, Feeding Hope,” published this week by Clarkson Potter

Bear Grylls

“When I first joined the military, a sergeant major told me: ‘If you’re less than five minutes early, you’re late.’ I’ve never forgotten those words and have always tried to make it a mantra when filming or working. I really notice it too in others, on expeditions for example. It speaks to diligence and dedication.”

Bear Grylls is the host of ‘Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge,’ on National Geographic

Joa Studholme

“When I was developing the color-consultancy service for Farrow & Ball in 1994, Tom Helme, who owned Farrow & Ball, asked what I was trying to do. And he said, ‘Right. What you need to do is pluck the color that the customer wants out of their heads and onto the wall.’ It means you have to put the customer first, and that’s sort of become the backbone of how I work. It’s not about me.”

Joa Studholme is a color curator at Farrow & Ball and co-author of ‘How to Redecorate,’ (Mitchell Beazley, October 2023)

Victor Glemaud

“The best advice came from Patrick Robinson, the creative director of his namesake brand and my first-ever boss. ‘When you know yourself, everyone will see you,’ he told me around 2000. And throughout the years we have remained close, and he is now my best friend. I don’t recall if he said this when I was his assistant or later on. Nevertheless, it remains and it reminds me to look for my light within, always.”

Victor Glemaud is the founder and creative director of fashion brand Glemaud

Adam Savage

“Back when I was a young model maker, my boss and I were bidding on a prop build for an indecisive client. After six rounds of communication, we still didn’t know enough to make our bid. My boss told me to tell the client we got another gig and couldn’t take the job. ‘When the client is difficult before you’ve even agreed to work with them, they’re going to be a nightmare,’ he said. I’ve found that holds true”

Adam Savage is a special effects designer and editor in chief of

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