The 11 Worst Pieces of Advice You'll Ever Hear (and What to Do Instead)
Like bad directions, bad advice can steer you off track. Top entrepreneurs and members of The Oracles weigh in on the worst advice they consistently hear and what to do instead.
1. Success is a journey, not a destination.
How many times have you heard the phrase: “Success is a journey, not a destination”? Please! Success isn’t just a “journey,” it’s a state over which you have control and responsibility. No NFL club tells their fan base that it’s the journey that counts. Everyone knows it’s all about the ring: the Super Bowl. A fireman driving a fire truck isn’t focused on the journey; he’s focused on getting to the fire and putting it out.
Your life is no different. It’s the destination that matters most. People who say otherwise are likely running a seminar or trying to sell a book. —Grant Cardone, top sales expert who has built a $500-million real estate empire, and NYT-bestselling author; follow Grant on Facebook or YouTube
2. Ramp up your team.
A piece of quick-fix advice I hear all the time is: “ramp up your team.” In fact, every entrepreneur should keep their team as lean as possible until finding a strong product or market fit. A bigger team doesn’t make a better profit.
As I mention in my book, How to be The Startup Hero, once three great customers are paying for your service and are willing to expand their purchase, only then can you “ramp” up the business. —Tim Draper, legendary VC, founder of Draper Associates and DFJ
3. Just be positive.
In the industry of human behavior and optimizing personal potential, people love to say, “Just be positive.” This sets people up for a mental health nightmare! No one is ever just positive or negative; the most successful people are balanced.
If a person is overly optimistic, they usually don’t consider the risks associated with their actions or learn through painful trial and error. Many self-proclaimed “positive thinkers” beat themselves up internally for their negative thoughts while setting unrealistic expectations about constantly feeling happy or peaceful. It’s better to stay balanced: there’s a time and place for all emotions. —Michael Johnson, “The Mojo Master,” speaker and mindset coach for professional athletes and elite entrepreneurs; follow Michael on Facebook
4. Follow the hype.
New technology breeds hype and misinformation. I’ve recently invested significant time and resources into cryptocurrency. I studied it like I prepared for the bar exam. While analyzing cryptocurrency trends, I've learned that you must always do your research. Don’t just invest in something because your friend sends a text saying, “Buy this now.” Acting blindly on hysteria is a recipe for disaster.
Instead, ask questions. Read up on it. Good entrepreneurs adapt and act quickly. But the best act with reliable information to grow their business and net worth. —Michael Alden, bestselling author and CEO of CloiXonné
5. Don’t be a ‘control freak.’
Every high achiever has probably been criticized as a “control freak” at some point. However, given the numerous daily distractions entrepreneurs encounter, if you want to do “deep work” with broad-ranging impact, you have to control your time to make each day a masterpiece.
My “masterpiece day” is composed of six categories: eat, move, sleep, deep work, service, and personal development. Each category has one action that I can accomplish that day, be it 30-minutes of exercise (move) or making a 5am Club inspiration call (service). To reach your potential, exert control over your life. —Sharran Srivatsaa, angel investor and president of brokerage (western region) at Douglas Elliman; grew Teles Properties 10X in five years
6. Do what you love, and the money will follow.
For years, I believed: "Do what you love, and the money will follow.” I would lose money on projects and say to myself: “Don’t worry the money will follow.” I had to unlearn this lesson the hard way.
In any venture, make sure you understand the financials. Don't feel guilty about making a profit. Profit is the lifeline of any business. Instead of just “doing what you love,” I say, “be fair, honest, and make a profit.”
Other crappy advice I’ve heard is to “stay under the radar.” Not sure how I got that embedded in my head; it makes no sense at all. If people don't know you, they won't buy from you. —Steve Griggs, founder and CEO of Steve Griggs Design; NYC’s premier landscape designer transforming backyards and rooftop gardens into private getaways
7. Always be grinding.
Many entrepreneurs glorify “the grind.” Don't get me wrong: I am a huge proponent of working hard and getting things done, but I think it’s just as important, if not more so, to have balance.
Often, entrepreneurs get so caught up in grinding that they can't see that what they’re working on isn't propelling them forward. Work smart. Focus on your well-being. Set aside personal time. Reflect. These practices will have massive, positive effects on your success. —Jared Goetz, serial entrepreneur and e-commerce expert; co-founder of four multimillion dollar companies in five years
8. Business decisions should be based on logic, not emotions.
The advice of making logical business decisions sounds rational, but it’s flawed. Neuroscience has proven that it's impossible to make emotionless decisions. We’ve all walked into a business pitch armed with facts, figures, and independent research, thinking our proposal is bulletproof, only to receive a definitive “No.”
That’s because the seed of motivation lies in the heart. If you only apply logic to business deals, you’ll be doomed to fail because decision-making is primarily emotional. Passion, endurance, and zeal are powered by emotions. Logic, wisdom, and reason are tools the mind leverages to make emotion-based decisions successful. —John Hanna, author of "Way of the Wealthy" and CEO of Fairchild Group
9. Be a bulldog.
The worst advice I've received as a lawyer is: “Be a bulldog.” Everyone wants a fierce and relentless lawyer. However, an unrelenting and ferocious criminal defense attorney without a holistic strategy will only be effective in a small percentage of cases.
Bruce Lee once said, "Be like water.” I've resolved many cases in my clients' favor by adapting the case strategy and being open to unconventional approaches. If your only strategy is to be a bulldog in business, you'll miss opportunities to grow and serve your clients effectively. —Nafisé Nina Hodjat, founder and managing attorney of The SLS Firm
10. Fake it till you make it.
“Fake it till you make it” is a paper-thin business strategy for rookies and a fool’s game to real professionals. You’ll never trick those you want to win over, and you may just damage your budding reputation in the process.
As for “making it,” knowledge is power. The more you know, the more you grow. Learn everything you can from the best leaders in your industry. Interview them; take them to lunch; study them. The best shortcut to success is learning from the best. Combine this knowledge with authenticity, and you’ll have a unique value proposition that serves you throughout your career. —Shaun Rawls, lifelong entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Rawls Consulting
11. Do it like it’s always been done.
“Experts” love to preach about how something’s always been done. Their time-tried methods invariably worked at “insert-mega-corporate-company-name-here,” which is why it’ll work for you. But just because a strategy worked for a big corporate brand doesn’t mean it’ll work in a startup culture or can be copied to get the same results.
If you’re in a fast-changing industry like the media business, I suggest recruiting a mix of experienced experts, as well as raw, break-the-mold types who like to innovate. When problem-solving, don’t get stuck on how something’s been done before. Discover what works best for you. —Joe Kakaty, co-founder and president of Poker Central
Want to share your insights like those above in a future column? If you’re an experienced entrepreneur, please get in touch here.
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