Scotland’s biggest stars line up to contribute to student’s inspirational new advice book

Edinburgh University student, Euan Lownie, who spent years writing to famous Scots to ask for a few words of wisdom. Picture:'' Neil Hanna
Edinburgh University student, Euan Lownie, who spent years writing to famous Scots to ask for a few words of wisdom. Picture:'' Neil Hanna
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They are the Scottish sports stars, artists, scientists and politicians who have reached the very pinnacle of their professions.

Now words of wisdom from the likes of Alan Cumming, Chris Hoy, Nicola Benedetti, Irvine Welsh, Ann Budge and Jackie Stewart have been brought together for a new advice book on careers.

It has been compiled by an Edinburgh University student, Euan Lownie, who started asking famous Scots for career advice when he was still at school in Aberdeenshire and seeking inspiration for what to do with the rest of his life.

Also featured in the book, which has taken several years to compile, are chefs Tom Kitchin and Nick Nairn, rugby star Stuart Hogg, and the singers Fran Healy and Lauren Mayberry.

Welsh tells aspiring writers that they need to have the ability to cope with isolation and develop a thick skin, saying: “Most writing is about being rejected, often by people who aren’t anywhere near as talented as you.”

Travis frontman Healy tells would-be songwriters: “Don’t write from your head, write from your gut,” while award-winning screenwriter Paul Laverty says he has always made it a priority to “look forward to Mondays.” Social Bite founder Josh Littlejohn, who has brought Bill Clinton, George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio to Edinburgh for events, said: “Don’t be afraid to ask: if it’s a no, then it doesn’t change where you are, but if it’s a yes, it can only get you closer to where you want to be.”

Lownie, who is in the final year of a Scottish studies course, said: “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do going into my last year at school.

“Careers advice is generally quite uninspiring. I thought that since there are so many people doing amazing things in Scotland it would be useful if there was a book of advice from successful Scots from different fields.

“I made a big list of people I really admired and wrote about 30 emails on the first day. Stuart Hogg and Irvine Welsh got back to me almost right away and I took it from there.”

The book – Never, Ever Take Anybody’s Advice on Anything – which was snapped up by Edinburgh publisher 404 Ink, is named after advice Lownie was sent by the artist and writer John Byrne, who also told him: “You must make your own mistakes, not replicate somebody else’s.”

Laura Jones, of 404 Ink, said: “When Euan approached us about his project, we were astounded by his ambition and drive.

“He took an idea that was meant to help himself and turned it into an altruistic endeavour. We certainly gained some new perspective on career trajectories while working with Euan on the finished book, which proves it’s not just for those starting out, it’s for anyone needing a little reminder of why they do what they do and how they could make it better.”