You might have heard of the phrase “All advice is autobiographical”. There’s a lot of background information which is hidden. I want you to seek the context behind the advice. Here are some examples to demonstrate my point:
- Let’s say you’re working in a big company and looking to switch to a startup. You ask your friends who are in a startup right now. They advise you to go for it.
But wait! Probe deeper.
Have they worked in a company before?
If they haven’t, they probably don’t have much context on your current state. Someone who hasn’t been on the other side can’t give you the full picture. So the next time someone who has only worked in big companies or only been in startups advises you something, don’t take it at face value as they don’t have calibration.
Actively seek out folks who have been in both places; they can empathize with you a lot better.
If I were at your place, I would seek out someone who was in a company and switched to startup and vice versa to see if there’s any mismatch in their advice.
- Suppose you’re looking for a design tool and someone suggests you Figma.
You know the drill now. Time to go deeper!
Have they used another tool, say Sketch or XD?
If they haven’t, they probably don’t have much context of the differences first-hand to compare. Avoid absolutes. Seek relative information.
Now let’s say someone who has used both Figma and Sketch advises you to go for Figma.
I know it’s tempting to jump on this but bear with me. There’s another layer to it. Figma is free to use while Sketch costs $100 per year. There’s a good chance that you talked to someone who’s not used to paying for tools yet.
I purchased a Sketch license last year. A couple of months later, someone introduced me to Figma. Even though I had access to Sketch for the majority of the year, I have used Figma ever since. This advice carries more weight since I have more skin in the game (i.e. using Figma even while having a Sketch license gives a data point that Figma is at least as good as Sketch).
- A good way to get recommendations for SaaS products is asking people if they have renewed their subscription. This filters out people who paid for it but didn’t really derive value out of it.
I hope you’re now in a better position to dig out the context while taking advice. My holy grail is to figure out “Is your advice A/B tested?”. The idea is to find people who would do something differently if given a chance of redoing. By default, people are somewhat biased that what they followed was the best path so pay more heed to people who tell you otherwise.
Until We Meet Again…