Advice is cheap.
Advice gets thrown around all the time, whether it’s asked for or not.
So how do you know what advice to listen to, and what to ignore?
Asking for advice
I ask for advice from my family, friends, and colleagues often.
Whether it’s about a tough life decision I need to make, or what product feature we should add next, or how to get my kid to sleep through the night, I naturally seek the opinions of others who may have been through these situations.
Sometimes, advice is given to me unsolicited, too.
Many times I have no idea what advice is good and what is not.
Everyone wants to help, and I’m appreciative of having a strong support network. So if I ask you for advice, please know that I absolutely value your opinion and will always take it into consideration.
But I often have trouble deciphering good advice from bad and often am just as if not more confused about what I should do than if I hadn’t asked for advice in the first place.
I’m happy to provide advice to whomever asks me.
I’m an advisor for a startup called FanCheer Interactive and I speak with the CEO approximately once a month about how his business is doing. Sometimes he simply provides updates. Other times he asks for advice, and I provide it to him. That’s my role.
I also provide advice to some of my fellow startup founders about marketing, product, strategy, or whatever topic, whenever they ask. I’m happy to help at any time.
And some of my friends and family speak with me about their careers (as if I have any idea what I’m doing with mine) and whether they should pursue certain opportunities.
All of these people typically tell me my advice is helpful. But most of the time I have no idea what they are really thinking, if they used the information I provided, and what the outcome was.
How are you supposed to know what’s good or bad advice?
Hindsight is always 20/20, so after you’ve made your decision, you can certainly determine whether the advice provided to you was good or bad.
But as you’re going through the decision process, how can you identify what advice is signal and what is noise?
I don’t know the answer to this question (obviously).
I think it just comes down to gut feel, and understanding if the person providing the advice has truly been through your specific situation before and can thus put himself or herself in your shoes.
Even then, there may be biases, as there always will be.
How do you decipher good advice from bad? I’d love to hear in the comments how you separate the signal from the noise.
Image courtesy of Alexander on Flickr