I'm curious as to what little nuggets o' wisdom you've received that have really hit home with you and helped you in your life/career.

Two that come to mind for me are...

1) P.M.A. - Positive Mental Attitude. It's something my father said to me as long as I can remember. When ever there was something I didn't like or something I didn't want to do, he'd always spit out "P.M.A." and go on with "the only reason you don't like it, is because you tell yourself you don't like it". While I realize it's not that simple regarding likes/dislikes it wasn't until I was out of College that it sunk in and how important it is to ones self and well being to carry on a positive attitude with what ever you're doing or what ever life throws at you. This was a huge help early on in my career, when I moved across the country, got laid off and was unemployed for the good part of a year. Not to say I didn't have bad days, but the "P.M.A." definitely helped me get through those days.

2) Never feel like you owe any one or any company you work for anything other than the work you put in every day. - This was said to me as I was telling my former boss (at a post house) I was going to leave and head out west to try and break into work in Los Angeles. Wanting to make the leap while I was relatively young (26), not married and no kids. He said this to me as I wanted to make sure I wasn't leaving him high and dry. I asked him how long he'd like me to stay. 2 weeks? 6 months? What ever he needed. It's then that he said that, followed by "If you need to take off tomorrow to start a job on Wednesday, do it. Life's too short. You need to take care of yourself" I never took that as him telling me to never have any loyalty or to carry oneself in a selfish manner. But at the end of the day, you're ultimately in charge of your well being and happiness.

I've been extremely fortunate to have worked at some amazing companies and with/for some amazing people and on projects that I love. I truly feel that these two bits of advice have helped direct me there. Maybe they can help someone else.

Anyone else?

9 Answers 9


Amateurs seek praise. Professionals look for critique.


stop looking at the world through that tiny screen on your phone. Real life is super HD, so go outside and play!


every task requires or can benefit from creativity, so practice being creative.


get enough sleep, eat right, exercise.

  • i like the praise/critique quote
    – user7731
    Jul 28, 2014 at 14:37

I was walking with a former composition instructor of mine and I asked him about career choices and being concerned about choosing the right path. He simply said:

"You have to make a living and you have to make a life."

He helped me put at ease the fact that you need to have both a good balance in life and an open mind to those career choices. There's no shame in having to make ends meet with a job that pays the bills and it's important to make sure you balance life with other fulfilling activities.


Don't overcut. It projects insecurity, slows down the mix and pisses everyone off.

Do not cut three sounds where one sound will work.

Don't waste time manipulating the wrong sound trying to make it work. Find the right sound.


The one thing which has stuck with me and resonated was that a well-regarded Sound Supervisor told me that (I'm paraphrasing) "it doesn't matter if it's the smallest short film or a biggest feature, treat everything you do like it's going to win the Academy Award".

At first glance it may seem shallow. However this was told to me in the vain and context that you should always put your best work out there, and strive for perfection no matter the show (treat it with the same care and seriousness as if it's vying for such an honor) - there is always somebody watching, your body of work is always being judged even if you aren't aware of it, and you never what could end up in that big referral or big career catalyst - so leave nothing to chance by always putting your best mark on what you do.

  • I'm amazed at the number of people who don't take pride in what they do. I'm not talking about our business. I had to get tires replaced on my car a few years back, I went to a tire dealership, they didn't have them in and it was going to take a couple days to get them. The service guy who was taking care of me drove out to pick up the tires and had them the same day. I was so impressed with this guy, early 20's, going to school and obviously not planning on working there the rest of his life yet took pride in his work and it left a mark on me.
    – user6508
    Aug 30, 2013 at 16:18
  • 2
    I called the dealerships regional office to tell them how impressed I was. I left a voice mail praising this guy and I get a worried call from the regional manager asking what was wrong. Had to explain that nothing was, that they have someone that actually cares about what they do. A couple days later I got another call from the stores manager wondering what the problem was and why I called the regional office. That also left me kind of sad in that it's not often enough that people are praised for good work. Just usually reamed when things go wrong.
    – user6508
    Aug 30, 2013 at 16:21
  • Great anecdote Gary! Aug 31, 2013 at 7:45

Great question! "Everything in good time, Arnoud" was one of the best one liners i've ever received/heard in first person. It was by our head of department at art school. Context: I was graduated and worrying about being able to fulfill my ambitions and taking the right choices. Like george hufnagi (great surname!), it put me at ease and it made me realize that you should have a goal or a grand vision but it shouldn't stress you, it should motivate you!

  • 1
    Good advice @Arnoud. Reminds me of a an interview I saw with Louis CK about people who criticize his success "There’s people that say: “It’s not fair. You have all that stuff.” I wasn’t born with it. It was a horrible process to get to this. It took me my whole life. If you’re new at this — and by “new at it,” I mean 15 years in, or even 20 — you’re just starting to get traction. Young musicians believe they should be able to throw a band together and be famous, and anything that’s in their way is unfair and evil. What are you, in your 20s, you picked up a guitar? Give it a minute."
    – user6508
    Aug 30, 2013 at 16:14

Very early on in my career I was tasked with editing a teaser for a movie. It was really a simple piece and I was a little stumped as to what to do. My boss just told me to have fun with it and see what happens. After I cleaned up the dialogue that was sent to me I started on the SFX. I stayed up all night and cut a pretty full soundtrack for the teaser that had many sfx options for the producer who was coming in the next day. After the first pass on the mix the producer came in and had a listen, loved what he heard, but wanted it a little simpler. By the end of the mix most of what I had cut was removed and I was feeling a little dejected. My boss came up to me and said I did a great job and even though they didn't use much of what I did, the producer was impressed by the thoroughness of the work.

So to make a long story short, have fun, do your best, and don't take it personally.


Here's a perspective from someone still at that early stage. I'm not yet at a place were I can say that the advise I got will get me were I want but I feel that it was probably the last nail in the coffin.

I'm in the second year of three at a sound engineering school and at this stage it has sort of becomes time to decide if this is something you are willing to dedicate your life to. Considering it's a pretty tuff business out there which doesn't seem to get easier according to most, hours long and money not big. And on top of it all not knowing if you're ever even going to get started at all. I bet every one here know what I mean.

Anyway, I talk about all this with my dad before I left for school and he said "Is there an alternative? If not, go for it."

And there isn't.

Right now, while writhing this, for example, the time is 11:00 pm friday night and I'm sitting all by my self at an off-limit area waiting to record some crowds at a club instead of being apart of them.

So no, there isn't any alternative.


Back in the early days when 16bit 44.1kHz was the standard I emailed a well know Sound Supervisor asking for his advice on whetehr it was worth recording ADR 24bit... He was kind enough to reply & offer his opinions, but he prefaced it with the saying:


This is advice I use often, as sometimes people assume because I have experience I must have tried every microphone etc out there... Nope, I only know what I use & have used.... and my advice is to always rent/borrow/access anything you might consider buying or 'needing' and do a test, using your own ears.



Good art should describe the real world.

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