With a world of information at our fingertips and a huge increase in connection via online platforms such as private groups and online communities, it can suddenly seem like everyone considers themselves an expert, or experienced enough to give you advice on what you should be doing in your business.
If you ask 3 different Dr's, mechanics, financial planners, marketing experts, occupational therapists or any other service based profession for an opinion on something, even when they're a fastidious evidence-based practitioner, you're likely to get three somewhat different answers.
If you ask strangers or even connections online or at business events for an opinion, well, you'll get a lot of different people telling you a LOT of different things.
So how do you keep your conversations valuable, and avoid overwhelming people with bad, unhelpful, or half-baked advice? Here is my tip:
Ask people to only give advice based on their own lived experience
It's easy for someone to read a blog, watch a training video or even complete a full course and then feel qualified to tell others the best way to do things. However, they haven't actually TRIED it and evaluated how it works in practice, over time.
Consider someone who has never built their own business, giving business advice. Even if they're a fully qualified business advisor, but work for someone else, they may have brilliant knowledge. But...
They haven't experienced the highs and lows, the challenges and pitfalls, the feeling like you're doing EXACTLY what you've been told and it's still not working, or how challenging it is to maintain the level of consistency, resilience and ingenuity required, the bravery it takes to share your own voice on your own platform and not hide behind the computer or someone else's platform, what it's like to work extremely hard and still have it fail, to build what feels like amazing content and not have any engagement, low attendance, or a poor open rate, to lie awake at night worrying about how much money is going out, and how little is coming in, to feel rejection and to get up and rustle up the motivation to do it again, and again, sometimes for years.
Many people know the theory, and what we 'should' or 'could' be doing, but putting it into consistent practice while also 'lifing' and 'parenting' and overcoming resistance and internal barriers while maintaining your drive, and vision, is the challenge.
At meet-ups, networking events and in the online space, it can be hard to say "Please, tell me your lived experience behind this sage advice that seems to fit so neatly into this one sentence" and not piss people off. But you can ask people casual questions that will reveal the actual depth of their lived experience, or pick up on key telltales within the story. For example, any sentence that begins with "I was reading/watching/listening to..." "Gary V says you should..." or "you should be doing x, y, z (oversimplified advice)" should be taken with a grain of salt.
Conversations that start with "what I've done that worked well is...and the biggest factors to consider whether or not this could be right for you are..." might contain nuggets of gold.
Someone who asks open, insightful questions that explore your own experience so far, well, that's a conversation to lean into.
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