Continuing our series of letters written by influential people in the rural and farming sector offering advice to their 16-year-old self, we have Scott Donaldson, the joint managing director of Harrison and Hetherington and president of the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland, giving his thoughts.

A letter to Scott Donaldson, aged 16.

When you’re starting out in your career you must always have a smile on your face and be willing to do whatever is asked of you, no matter how mundane you may think the task is.

Be honest with others and with yourself always, in this industry your reputation is everything, once lost it is impossible to retrieve.

Be pleasant, polite and respectful don’t be cocky or over familiar. Be presentable, tidy, well turned out. Look the part. Always look up when you’re walking about, acknowledge people whether you think you know them or not.

Respect your customers and your colleagues ... all of them. Confidence is an asset, over confidence is a flaw.

Respond quickly to people, be approachable, be alert. Be interested, ask questions, I find it is the fastest way to learn. Have a broad outlook on life and work, be willing to learn new ways, force yourself out of your comfort zone, be prepared to handle awkward situations.

If you want to get on you must be prepared to go the extra mile, your customers will always give you the benefit of the doubt if they believe you are trying your best for them.

As you your career progresses remember to make time for everybody, but most importantly remember those at home.

The livestock auctioneering business will reward you if you conduct yourself with dignity and take pride in what you do. There will be good times, but the test of the man is how you come through the bad times, because there will be bad times.

This business is like no other, it is a way of life, you will make lifelong friends from all walks of agriculture, you will share experiences and enjoy the craic for many years.

Throughout your working life you will require a thick skin, be prepared to take criticism, and be prepared to admit when you are wrong.

Encourage others to succeed, the measure of your success is how well you have advised, developed and nurtured the generation that follow you to ensure the business flourishes once it is time for you to hang up your gavel.