I’ve often used a ski instructor analogy to support my philosophy that someone you ask for advice should have a successful history of doing what you want to do. The instructor should be a few yards ahead of you on the slopes, demonstrating the moves as you follow, not in the chalet sipping branding telling you what to do when you get off the lift.
This may sound elitist, but I’ve been accused of worse: Many people whom you seek out (or who come to you—I become bored whenever I hear the term “internet marketing consultant”) are not good enough to give you proper advice. I was dealing with a mortgage manager on a refinancing deal who kept talking about “comparables.” There are no homes in the general area “comparable” to mine. I had to find an officer, who could relate to my circumstances, to find agreement that we weren’t talking about a “house” but rather a “lifestyle.” The first guy couldn’t relate to that, had no perspective, didn’t want to attempt to embrace it.
Why do “investment experts” have to solicit you for business? If they’re that smart, shouldn’t they be retired, wealthy, and merely managing their own investments? Why would you listen to anyone with a betting system, or a real estate system? They’re only successful in selling unsuccessful advice, not in applying it, or they wouldn’t need you. Most “self-help” books make money only for the author. (“If someone else wrote it and you’re reading it, it’s not ‘self-help’.” — George Carlin)
You have a limited amount of time, energy, and resources. Confine their investment to people with a demonstrated, manifest success who are willing to help you because their business is successful (they can ski beautifully) and they also are in the business of helping others (they can coach beautifully). Content without coaching ability is didactic and professorial. Coaching without content (success) is simply fraudulent.
Randy Gage points out in his new book Risky is the New Safe (he’s one of my guests at the next Thought Leadership Conference I’m hosting) that “you shouldn’t take advice from someone who’s broke.” I’m adding that you shouldn’t seek or take advice from someone who hasn’t done it, and/or can’t coach.
© Alan Weiss 2012