People love to share their advice, but how do you know which to follow? Here Inc. columnists share how to sort good from bad.
Feedback and advice can be helpful when you are trying to break new ground. But not all advice is useful or appropriate. You want to be open to learn and adapt, but not all advisors are equal, or appropriate.
In my own case, advice is already pouring in on my new radio show. Much is coming from professionals with decades of experience. Some is coming from interested friends and some from listeners through social media. My job is to sort through and apply the guidance that will actually achieve my objectives. If it were only clear which are pearls of wisdom and which will create disasters. It's nearly as challenging as sorting through the reviews in a 3 star restaurant entry on Yelp.
My approach (like with Yelp) is to weigh and consider all of the advice and question it carefully. What are the experience and motives behind the advisor? Do they truly understand my objectives and the context around the project? I gravitate toward the advice that runs counter to my thinking. Even though I may not use it, just the exploration of that conflict in my head makes me justify the ultimate decision I make. Regardless, I give respect to all willing to share their opinions. And I do retain the information to consider later if I head down what turns out to be the wrong path.
Here are additional insights from my Inc. colleagues.
1. Get Advice from Several People
Don't confuse advice for fact. It is one person's opinion based on their unique perspective and prior experiences. When you look for advice always talk to multiple people. Make sure to include those who will likely have opposing views and strive to understand what motivates the advice an individual is providing. Is their advice based on a similar experience or because they might have something to gain? I measure the advice I receive against my unique perspective to formalize my own move forward decision. You must always remember that only you have the proper perspective on what should be done next and will live with the impact of the decision that is made. Eric Holtzclaw--Lean Forward
When I became president of ASJA, I emailed two board members encouraging them to share their opinions. Why? Though I respected them deeply, they were the two I most often disagreed with. I had a second-in-command who generally agreed with me, and knew I needed other perspectives. Months later, I learned my second-in-command was secretly lobbying against my agenda. One of those board members advised me to bring the conflict into the open. I did, although open confrontation isn't usually my style. It turned out to be the quickest way to get back on track. Moral: Treasure those you respect but disagree with--they are your most valuable advisors. Minda Zetlin--Start Me Up
I can honestly say that anytime I've followed poor advice, deep down inside I knew I was doing the wrong thing. Extreme emotions such as excitement and fear are like blinders that contribute to poor choices. At a subconscious level, we all know what's best for our business and us, but we can't always access that information on our own. So we turn to the experts: mentors, coaches, the next-door neighbor. Don't jump the gun on their input. Instead evaluate it using data, logic and most importantly, your intuition. Tune into your heart or gut or wherever you "feel" things and you won't go wrong. Marla Tabaka--The Successful Soloist
In my experience, everyone wants to tell you how to run your business--from your employees to your customers to your friends and family. While all of this advice may be well-meaning--and some of it might be good--chances are a lot of this unsolicited advice may do little or nothing to help you achieve your goals, and some if followed may actually throw you and your business off track. The key to getting the best advice possible is to ask for it when you need it, and to specifically limit the "ask" to someone who is an expert on the topic or who has been through what you and your company are going through and can offer lessons learned. Organizations like Entrepreneur's Organization (EO) and Young President's Organization (YPO) are extremely valuable sources of peer advice by way of their member forums. Peter Economy--The Management Guy