Everyone's an Expert


Advice can be valuable. Getting an expert's two cents is always a good idea. Step into the spotlight, though, and suddenly you have a lot of loose change.

Advice can be valuable. Getting an expert's two cents is always a good idea. Step into the spotlight, though, and suddenly you have a lot of loose change.

When you do something interesting, you get a lot of attention. That's a pretty simple fact and if you let your mind wander for a moment, you'll think of plenty of examples on your own. No need to get me involved there. However, the type of attention differs dramatically, and when you're inexperienced at doing your "interesting thing", that type of attention is expressed as advice. Expert advice, because everyone has a related experience. Well, here's some more:

I have been running the bioinformatics company CrimsonBase for the past two years or so and, as I pointed out last month, I'm more of a scientist than a businessman. Of course this means that nearly everything I do is relatively new to me. Fortunately, science is sexy. Especially biotech. Even more so when everything you say is generously peppered with the letters "DNA". We're hot stuff, recently closing deals around the world and storming the American stage. That means that anyone with any business in business scrambles to offer generous doses of advice. Awesome, right?

Unfortunately, as all things do, it comes with a down-side. Your parents, aunts, uncles, investors, potential investors, neighbors, friends, long-lost acquaintances, ex-colleagues,  toothbrush salesmen, and local pizza-delivery guy all have a special bit of life-changing, expert advice for you. That's not even taking into account the endless stream of news, blogs, books, seminars and workshops. This means that you, as the recipient of tip after tip, are left with a very large mountain of advice, much of which is contradicting, some of which doesn't make sense, most of which is simply impossible to follow and all of which deviates from your current path.

However, advice is golden and the more the better, especially when your own experience is lacking. Not only is the content worth paying attention to, but when you're getting it, it means that you truly are interesting. People not only want to hear about the company, the product, the development or whatever interesting thing it is you do; they want to contribute and feel like they've made a difference. It's a shower of positive attention that has the potential to adjust your course for the better and grow your network at the same time.

It takes some pretty smooth talking and solid resolve to respectfully listen to every piece of advice, discuss it and smile while tossing it to the wind. It also takes a lot of open-mindedness, keen attention and quick thinking to recognize a gold nugget when you get one. That makes it your job to listen as much as you can and to recognize the importance of every remark. Let everyone pile on the advice and leave you to pan for the gold because, although everyone's an expert in their own way, it's never in your specific situation and the advice itself is rarely an epiphany. Take it for the positive vibe, the helpful attitude, the friendly nudge and the engaging conversation. It sounds like common sense, but I regularly need to remind myself that, in my business, I'm the only expert.


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