Have you ever been the recipient of well-intentioned but misguided business advice? I know I sure have! I recently sat down with some of my colleagues to find out what was the worst business advice they ever received and was shocked by some of their answers.
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Here is a short list of some of the worst business advice that these business leaders have received – along with a strong suggestion that you ignore this advice if you want to succeed.
You’ve got to at least take into consideration the value of your passion on the market itself. What I love to do… what I’m good at and what the market actually values in some meaningful way may not be the same thing. This one comes from me and I watch it hurt so many would-be entrepreneurs as they struggle financially because they chose a “passion” with no consideration of how that passion could best be tied into creating value for the marketplace.
‘This naïve advice sells millions of copies. It is based on the typical story, ‘Mary wanted to be a movie star. She envisioned it – and now she is!’ This happens when you only interview ‘winners’ in your research. Half of the waitresses in Hollywood envisioned themselves being movie stars.” — Marshal Goldsmith, NYT bestselling author of, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.
“When I moved into the field of manufacturing as CEO of a medical device company, I was told that I should try to please the customers and smile even if I thought they were wrong. The devices we were inventing had the goal of saving lives and improving patient lives. I ignored that advice as I was raised to know my value and worth…the reason companies hired us was to break the rules for better patient outcomes, not to tell them what they wanted to hear.” — Stephanie Harkness, former Chairperson of National Association of Manufacturers and Co-Author of, Build a Business Not a Job.
“I’ll never forget a dinner meeting I had with a seemingly successful and very high profile CEO and asked him to what he owed the success he’d enjoyed so far in his career. He looked at me with a conspiratorial wink about to let me in on his big secret, lowered his voice and whispered, ‘The best advice I can give you,’ he said, ‘Is that having a set of guiding principles is for sissies,’ adding, ‘I’ll do anything to get the job done.’ Predictably, he soon crashed and burned and so did the company he led, never to be heard from again.” — Jason Jennings, NY Times bestselling author of, The Reinventors.
“Thank goodness that I proceeded with caution, did homework to mitigate risk and found that they are not always low bidders. While a challenging client, government contracts were good for us. I did over $590 million in highly profitable government business over the years before I sold my company.” — Patty DeDominic, Entrepreneur and former President of the National Association of Women Business Owners.
“I can’t believe how much I heard this early on in my career and how much science we have now to prove it wrong. Of course we all need to balance how much of ourselves we share in any context, and certainly we need to manage and use our emotions productively, but to bifurcate ourselves as humans or pretend like we are a different person at work is just bad advice. Not only does it not work, good luck if you are trying, but acting like you are two different people alienates you from those around you and is completely exhausting to boot.” — Jen Grace Baron, Co-Author of, Dare to Inspire.
“Whew…that’s bad advice! If Henry Ford had asked what the people wanted, they’d have said, “faster horses!” In fact, our greatest successes will always be achieved by those who find solutions to real life challenges and, having done so, provide people with what they really need.” — Andy Andrews, NYT bestselling author of, The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer.
The bottom-line is to be careful of the advice you take to heart.
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