Drink this, wear that, do this exercise—are you ready for the onslaught of advice coming your way this January, just in time for you to start working on your 2017 New Years resolutions?
The five-minute daily workout that will help you drop 30 pounds in 30 days! (Yes, so easy!)
Get out of debt quick with these three strategies! (Yay, I can stop worrying about money!)
The miracle cure for bad skin! (As long as it works!)
Build a 6-figure business in 6 months! (I’ll be rich!)
I’ve been sucked into bad advice before. A lot of it, unfortunately. Have you?
I do not live on false promises. I cannot afford to live on bad advice. — Robert Kiyosaki
Do you ever notice that a lot of people you know don’t follow their own advice?
I don’t think this has ever been more true than now. Everyone’s a bloody expert about something because they read up on it or took an online course. They share random things they see on social media to support their advice without vetting the source…you know what I’m talking about.
I’m not dissing online learning or reading, but I want you to be extra critical and careful with the advice you receive, especially this time of the year when businesses capitalize on your aspirations.
People make money giving advice. Just look at the booming coaching industry. Or, fad diet books!
People also like giving advice, because it makes them feel smart and helpful. If your parents recommend taking a university program because you need to do something with your life, they want the best for you. But, question why the university is adding in promotions with the program.
Do your research. Ask questions. Probe.
If someone is offering you financial advice, ask what they do with their money. If they offer strategies to get debt-free, find out if they’re debt-free (or they’re making a last-ditch effort to make a go of their online business). If they’re telling you how to get healthier or relieve stress and they’re complete basket cases, what they’re telling you to do probably doesn’t work.
I’ve seen arguments (particularly in the coaching realm) that people can only help others in areas they struggle with themselves. If they’ve managed to overcome their struggle, continue, but if they’re still struggling, ask, “How can you help someone if you don’t know the solution?” They’re really just selling you a hypothesis or someone else’s blueprint.
We Millennials are the most distrustful generation — only 19% of us believe people can be trusted — and I don’t want to add fuel to that fire. We also have trouble knowing when news is real or fake. More than 80% of middle-schoolers thought sponsored content was real news, in a study from Stanford. While current middle-schoolers don’t fall within the Millennial generation, I wager there are many of us who also can’t tell real info. from bad advice.
I have a cynical nature, and I ask a TON of questions about everything before I make important decisions…most of the time, so I think I can help you sort the good from the bad advice in some situations. Here’s how I do it:
- Google your question or problem. Are other people struggling with the same thing? Try to figure out exactly what it is you’re struggling with before you go seeking help for problems that are too general.
- Beware fake news sites! Anyone who does not cite their research via links or footnotes cannot be trusted. They’re trying to make it seem like they did the study themselves, but they could be getting their information from anywhere. Some corporations also like to slant research results to benefit their businesses.
- Find someone other people recommend and benefited from. One note of caution here is that many companies have worked very hard to get guest blogs, reviews, etc. up online to improve social proof.
- Google the shit out of them. Lurk on their LinkedIn profile or other public profiles to see how they engage, what kinds of advice they offer online, etc. Most big companies will have a social media manager, but I judge the company by that person’s ability to provide transparent information.
- Check their credentials. How long have they been doing what they’re doing. What results have they had? What studies, articles, etc. have they published?
- Is the person offering you advice being really pushy, using urgency or scarcity to compel you to buy quickly? If someone won’t give you time to think about something (and do your research!), move on. Don’t allow people to bully you into making rash decisions.
- Ask a personal question. A lot of people make money on “passive income”, or a program that runs forever without them needing to be there personally. And that’s fine if it’s a good program. I always test the program owner by sending a personal email or social media message. I’ll ask them something about the program, mostly just to see if they respond, which to me shows they’re engaged. Even if their customer support person is the one answering my question, when I know that someone is regularly maintaining the program and accepting feedback, they’re working to continually improve it.
- If you’re going to be dealing with this person 1-on-1, have an in-person meeting or two prior to signing anything. This is where you get to test your bullshit-meter. Ask hard questions and don’t be afraid to be a little pushy! If the person can’t answer you straightforwardly or if they try to dazzle you with big words and quick talking, don’t let that affect you. Be calm and listen carefully. If your intuition tells you this person can’t be trusted, you’re probably right.
- Finally, if someone is telling you that you’ll earn this much money, achieve this amount of freedom, or lose this much weight, that sounds like a guarantee, and very few people can offer advice with real guarantees like this. One thing that a few people have tried with me has been, “well you’ll spend this much money, but it will help you so much you’ll be earning that much more by the end of the program.” There are so many variables to success that no one can really offer these guarantees. If there is a guarantee, get it in writing. Along the same lines, beware of people who say their clients earn millions based on their work together. Sometimes a select few customers, who’ve done phenomenally well, increase the average, but the odds aren’t that great.
I’m not surprised Millennials are so distrustful. We’re constantly being bombarded with advertising that tries to oversell benefits. We’ve seen corporations crash and burn due to poor policies and lack of transparency. We’ve been through a financial crisis caused by financially irresponsible people borrowing money for things they couldn’t afford. We’re crammed into cities, but we’re socially isolated. And every damn person is trying to sell you something. Well, not everyone, but a lot of people. People are out to improve their own lives, and may not be considering yours. That’s the world we live in (and yes, let’s change that!). That’s also a generalization, so sorry if that seems really negative and bleak. There are good people out there too!
One way you can fight back against all the bad advice is to stop accepting it. Eventually, you’ll be able to detect bad advice easier, and before you even hear the sales pitch you’ll already be turning the other way, towards better things.
How do you detect bad advice and can you add some things to my list? Let us know in the comments!