Where To Go For Advice
This is inspired by an article at Art of Manliness. There are overlaps between my long held thoughts and what the article says. This list will share some of those and add on a couple of other ideas.
1. Is there any reason to think the advice giver knows what they're talking about?
Drawing this conclusion correctly requires some skill for observation and filtering. A simple but harsh example would be how seriously are you going to take diet advice from your doctor if they are extremely overweigh?
2. Do they practice what they preach?
This was raised in the article and is slightly different from number 1 on the list. Just about any financial advisor can very competently tell you the basics about how to save money to the various types of accounts and about avoiding becoming over indebted. Are they following through for themselves? A financial advisor does not need to be wealthy in my opinion but their should have their financial house in order.
3. Are they obviously qualified?
Have you ever met someone that creates the impression that they know everything about a subject (in a positive way)? I've met a couple of people like this over the years, they not only know the subject but are able to convey that they know a lot on a confidence-building manner? That's probably someone to listen to.
4. Can you filter out the information that you don't need?
I've said a few times that I have learned a fair bit from Nassim Taleb since I first stumbled into his writing 16 or 17 years ago. He is clearly a brilliant person but there is plenty of things he believes and talks about that are non-sensical. I've blogged about this point by saying to take bits of process from various sources to create your own process. It would be weird to agree with someone else on everything.
5. Can you recognize when someone knows more about a subject than you?
I know a fair bit about lifting weights. One of the guys in the fire department is a retired marine in his mid-30's and who did the pack test (our annual physical requirement) 5-6 minutes faster than anyone has ever done it in the history of our department. A couple of weeks ago we worked out together. He saw how I did goblet squats, made a suggestion about having my feet wider. I tried it the next time and he was very right. His suggested way of doing it was more difficult and felt far more comprehensive.
6. Good advice not really targeted to you
This is one from the article. The example used was a dad with three kids taking advice from a guy in his 20's with no kids on what to do for a morning routine. The advice could be very good but maybe not a good fit.
7. Do you actually need help?
Hopefully, by a certain age you've grown into a stasis where you've already figured out a good bit of what you need to figure out. At that point, I'd say you're more about fine tuning things versus needing to figure big things out. I read a lot on this subject but not to necessarily figure out things for myself but more to build my knowledge base to help others. As a fire chief I am at times a counselor, therapist, career coach, rabbi and so on. In that light I have a keen interest in trying to broaden my knowledge base.
8. How long has the advice giver been giving this advice?
This was from the article and gave an example right in my wheelhouse. He talked about taking advice about going keto from someone who has only been do it for a few months. Not everyone will stick with it and doing that, or other things for too short of time doesn't make someone a great source of advice, at least not yet. Eventually, maybe yes, but not after too short of period.
9. What is their motivation for offering advice?
Some online "gurus" have a ton of product they are trying to sell. I am not against someone making money as a guru, not even a little bit but there is a fuzzy line between what is appropriate and what isn't.