“As for the advice? Lots to choose from. Think big, or maybe small.”

John Abell, on Startup School 08

Advice is for learning, not copying. Don’t follow our advice.

Advice can be ignored. One of my favorite advisors once told the founders of YouTube that, “People don’t want to watch video on their computers.”

Advice is useful if it helps you perceive and evaluate the outcomes of today’s actions. That’s what it means to be wise. But advisors can’t be wise for you, especially since they don’t know your values, goals, and environment.

Understanding advice isn’t as useful as understanding why you’re supposed to be following it.

Advice tells you how to play the game. But there’s more than one way to play the game in chess, football, business, and life.

Advice distills the experiences of the past. But what worked yesterday will not work tomorrow. Today is not for copying the past. Today is for testing hypotheses whose outcome is unknown.

Advice asks for mimicry: “This works for me so you should do the same thing I do.” But the essence of strategy is to perform different activities than your rivals do. Strategy requires differentiation—not mimicry.

Once you’ve gathered advice, take the course that you think is best—you’re the only one who will be faced with the consequences.

“You can’t be normal and expect abnormal returns.”

Jeffrey Pfeffer, The Human Equation

Topics Advisors · Execution

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