Stupid Amateurism

I receive Google Alerts each day, which inform me of where my name, “million dollar consulting,” “value based fees,” and other aspects of my intellectual property appear. Overwhelmingly, these are favorable notices, and I always try to say “thank you.” (On occasion, I find someone stealing my work. A favorite tactic of the plagiarists is to “excerpt” tens of pages and place them in their newsletters, which they sell, as a “review” of my work. I ask them to stop, then my lawyer asks them to stop. All have.)

The other day, I found a pretty amateur consulting blog with an exchange between two readers One had said, “Don’t read ‘Million Dollar Consulting,’ it’s not very good.” And the other said, “Thanks, you just saved me the money.”

There are dozens of things wrong with this transaction, but here are the salient points:

• MDC has sold 450,000 copies or something like that since 1992, globally. That doesn’t happen to bad books.
• Even if it isn’t a great book in someone’s opinion, it’s one of the fundamental books on solo consulting, and you need to read it if you’re going to be knowledgeable in a profession that refers to it. It’s like a strategist refusing to read Peter Drucker.
• Consider the source. The guy who didn’t like it is hanging out on an amateur site, with no credentials and no one has ever heard of him. Why would he be your muse?
• The book, in used copies, costs just few bucks, and maybe $20 new (or less on Amazon). Why wouldn’t you make the small investment to find out for yourself?

There is something worse than stupid professionalism (“I forgot to set the next date for the review of the proposal!”), and that’s stupid amateurism.

In any profession, listen only to those who are successful at what you want to be successful doing. Make sure you are familiar with the major issues and intellectual property. And don’t blindly take advice or make assumptions. (I had heard that Malcolm Gladwell’s new book wasn’t that good. It’s terrific. I wanted to see for myself.)

You may be new, you may be struggling, but you can still be a professional. If you are, you won’t be struggling for long.

© Alan Weiss 2010. All rights reserved.

7 thoughts on “Stupid Amateurism

  1. Jeffrey, my point exactly and those voices have a channel to carry influence. It’s not even that the voices are “wrong” but rather that the listeners often don’t validate the message relative to their own needs.

  2. I think one of the challenges we’re all having to come to terms with is to install better noise filters.

    I can’t think of a restaurant or hotel that gets universally good write-ups on consumer review sites. There are simply so many people able to post reviews now that a few of them are either just going to be unluck in their experience, or have bad taste, or whatever.

    Most of us just aren’t used to seeing bad reviews for good things and it can lead to our decision-making getting paralysed. But we’re going to have to inoculate ourselves against it and learn to go with the “weight of evidence” as the scientists say.


  3. You have to judge whom you will listen to and whom you will ignore. Use those sources which you tend to agree with. Ignore all amateurs and random comments. Look for real patterns.

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