Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Danger of Taking Advice

Hi all, Ellie here and this blog is going to be a little different from anything I've done in the past. I want to talk to you today about giving and receiving advice with a small focus on business development.
I find myself travelling at the moment and without an internet connection. I'm not sure when or if this will be uploaded but I've got a few hours to kill and thought I'd write a post to pass the time.

Late Panda has been around for awhile now. We've received plenty of advice and we've given advice ourselves. I personally listen to a lot of podcasts that dispense advice regularly. The most useful advice I've ever received is actually taken from the song Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen. The lyrics sung by Baz Luhrmann go something like this;

"Be careful with the advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia, dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling for more than its worth."

If you've not heard the full song I'd recommend it, I believe it was originally a commencement speech that was later adapted into this oddly beautiful spoken-word song. The above quote is self-explanatory yet thought-provoking. Basically, the advice is given based on experiences, as if it were some kind of a cautionary tale of how not to do a thing but packaged up and told as a form of wisdom.

Now, this isn’t the case for all advice, sometimes you'll come across people who give advice based purely on the fact that they like the sound of their own voice and want to sound smart. At first, It can be difficult to distinguish when you're talking to these people but I think detection is a skill you can pick up pretty quickly. If you start asking questions based on their own experiences on the topic they'll usually respond with anger, annoyance or remark that the solution is obvious enough that they don't need the hindsight of experience.

[insert some funny image here]

Even if the person giving you advice is an expert in the field you should still use a healthy dose of scepticism. They might not know all the information needed to make an informed decision. Experts are usually aware of this and will tell you that their advice is just that, advice, and should not be taken as fact.

Recently I was listening to the Woodlands Secrets podcast. Rami Ismail was talking about bad advice which admittedly sparked this post. During the podcast, he told the story of when he was giving a talk to a group of university students in Johannesburg, South Africa. A student asked Rami if he should drop out of school and Rami replied with something like "If you want to, and regardless of what I say, going to, then sure. Otherwise no". After the talk, the teacher was angry and informed Rami that Johannesburg is one of the most economically segregated cities in the world with a lot of extreme poverty. When Rami dropped out of education he had a social support network, welfare and safety nets to catch him but in Johannesburg, if somebody drops out of education they will die, without education there's no happy ending. Rami went back to the class and apologised for "being a privileged ass without realising it".

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned business development. There are a lot of books out there to help you start your own business and keep it going. There are thousands of people you can connect with who will tell you how to keep your business going. There are podcasts, YouTube videos, business mentors, blogs, you name it. Most will have useful advice that you should probably follow but remember that the decision to take action, to heed their warnings and teachings comes down to you and your business. Where do you want your business to go and how do you want it to grow? That’s up to you.

And yes I’m aware of this posts irony. Thanks for reading, you can follow us all over the internet if you like.

Ellie xx

“If I could offer you only one tip for the future sunscreen would be it” - Mary Schmich