Introduction

Let me start by taking you back a few years. There I was, a bright-eyed entrepreneur on the brink of launching one of my first startups. Picture a young Geoffrey, knee-deep in hustle, brimming with unbridled enthusiasm, yet naive to the harsh realities of the business world.

My startup was set to revolutionize the software market. At least, that’s what I believed. I had advice coming from all corners—well-meaning investors, fellow entrepreneurs, industry veterans, even my mother! I was literally swimming in a sea of advice, but did that prevent my ship from sinking? Hell no.

The startup crumbled—my first taste of entrepreneurial defeat. And as I licked my wounds, I pondered, “How could I have botched it up so royally, despite all the advice I received?” The bitter truth smacked me right in the face—I had fallen victim to the advice gap.

You might wonder, “What’s this advice gap you speak of, Geoffrey?” Let me break it down for you. In today’s information era, advice is like sand on a beach—it’s everywhere. But just like finding a perfect seashell amidst the countless grains of sand, picking out valid, helpful advice from the colossal heap of information is a tricky business. That’s the advice gap—the rift between the advice you get and the advice you need.

Three key culprits contribute to this gap. Firstly, not all advice you stumble upon is top-notch. Some are outright trash, while others appear so generic that you’d be forgiven for wondering if they hold any value. Secondly, even good advice can feel like an ill-fitting coat. You know it’s quality stuff, but it doesn’t seem tailor-made for you or your unique circumstances. And lastly, in our quest for reassurance that our path is right, we often mistake validation for advice.

This advice gap is like quicksand, pulling down many ambitious professionals and entrepreneurs. It’s not a lack of advice, but an abundance of it, often ill-fitted and misapplied, that creates confusion. My failed startup was a classic example of how this gap could set you up for a tumble.

But the good news? This gap can be bridged. And I’m here to guide you on that journey.

The Problem with Pervasive Advice

Remember the rush of Black Friday sales? That frenzy, the overwhelming choices, and the feeling of utter chaos—it’s like that in the realm of advice too. Imagine walking into a giant Costco of advice—rows upon rows of wisdom, tips, and suggestions. It’s impressive, it’s exhaustive, and it’s damn well confusing. That’s the first snag—the problem with pervasive advice.

See, we live in the golden age of information. There’s a surplus of it at every turn. And advice, my friends, is no exception. From self-help books to podcast gurus, LinkedIn articles to Ted Talks—everyone’s doling out nuggets of wisdom. But, herein lies the kicker—the more advice there is, the muddier the waters get. It’s like trying to find Wally in one of those “Where’s Wally?” books. Good luck with that!

The second hurdle? The crap-shoot nature of quality control. You see, just like you wouldn’t eat every morsel you find at a buffet, you can’t—and shouldn’t—swallow all the advice you come across. The hitch? It’s challenging to distinguish the prime steak from the overcooked burgers.

It’s like that quote from Mark Twain, “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” Replace ‘health books’ with ‘advice,’ and voila, you get the picture. Not all advice is good advice. Some are misinformed, some are outdated, and some are just plain baloney. Spotting these can be like finding a needle in a haystack, making it tempting to toss the whole haystack aside.

Now, if you’re thinking, “Alright, Geoffrey, I get it. The abundance is overwhelming, and the quality is a gamble. But why not ignore the lousy advice and focus on the good ones?” Well, dear reader, if only it were that simple.

When we’re bombarded with advice, it’s not just about filtering the good from the bad. It’s also about battling the paralysis of choice and avoiding decision fatigue. And let’s be honest, that’s a whole different kind of beast to tackle.

The human brain, bless its cotton socks, isn’t built to process a barrage of choices. The more options it has, the less decisive it becomes. So, when you’re staring at an ocean of advice, it’s easier to freeze like a deer in headlights than to dive in and start sorting.

To add insult to injury, there’s another pestering question—”Why should I listen to them?” The trust factor, folks. When you don’t know the advice-giver personally, it’s hard to trust their credentials or the validity of their advice. They might have a fancy title or a string of qualifications, but do they know you or your unique circumstances? Nah-ah. So, it’s no surprise that their advice is often taken with a grain of salt, or worse, ignored.

In a nutshell, the pervasive nature of advice is a double-edged sword. It opens the door to a world of wisdom but also ushers in confusion, skepticism, and decision paralysis. So, how do we navigate this jungle? Stick around, as we delve into the nitty-gritty in the following sections.

The Misapplication of Good Advice

Let’s talk about cookies. Yes, cookies—the round, delicious morsels that cause your mouth to water and your fitness resolutions to crumble. Now, if I handed you a one-size-fits-all cookie cutter and told you to make your perfect cookie, you might look at me like I’d lost my marbles. The same goes for advice.

The misapplication of good advice is the second piece of our advice gap puzzle. Picture this—you’ve successfully navigated through the minefield of bad advice and now have a shining piece of wisdom in your hand. It’s solid, it’s sensible, and it’s proven. You should be ready to conquer the world now, right? Not so fast, amigo.

Remember the cookie cutter I gave you? You quickly realize that you’re more of a star-shaped cookie lover, while I’ve handed you a round cutter. Sure, it makes great round cookies, but it’s not what you’re looking for. That’s precisely what happens with good advice—it often feels impersonal, generic, and most importantly, not quite right for our specific circumstances.

This feeling is fueled by what I like to call the ‘special case’ myth. It’s this notion that we are the exception to the rule, that our situation is unique, unlike anything the advice-giver has ever come across. This belief, while comforting, often leads us to dismiss advice that doesn’t cater to our ‘special’ circumstances.

Now, I’m not saying that you aren’t special—you are, just like everyone else. But when it comes to advice, clinging onto the ‘special case’ myth can blind us to the relevance of broad, tried-and-true wisdom.

Add to this mix our inherent desire to disrupt and make a ruckus. Many ambitious folks—entrepreneurs, especially—are fueled by this desire to break the mold, defy the norm, and create a splash. They believe in marching to the beat of their own drum, and rightly so.

But this spirit of disruption often comes at odds with good advice, which tends to be conservative and promotes caution. It’s like your mom telling you not to touch the stove—it’s well-meaning advice, but oh-so-tempting to defy, just for the sake of rebellion.

Lastly, let’s face it—advice can be a vague bugger. It rarely comes with a “how-to” manual tailor-made for your situation. This vagueness can further dissuade us from applying the advice, amplifying the sense that it’s irrelevant or impractical.

In a nutshell, even when we latch onto good advice, the road to its application is fraught with pitfalls. Our desire for unique solutions, our inclination to disrupt, and the inherently vague nature of advice—all contribute to its misapplication, leaving us stranded mid-journey in our quest to bridge the advice gap.

Seeking Reassurance instead of Advice

Picture this. You’re at a fancy restaurant, a mouth-watering menu in your hand, and an overly enthusiastic waiter by your side, just waiting to spill out his recommendations. But all you really want is to order your usual comfort food, without any judgement or second-guessing. Now swap out the restaurant setting for your life, and you’ve got a classic case of reassurance seeking.

So, here’s the thing about reassurance—it’s like your favorite comfort food. It’s familiar, it’s comforting, and it reinforces your beliefs and actions, telling you that you’re on the right path, even when you might not be. And while there’s nothing wrong with a bit of comforting self-affirmation, mistaking it for genuine advice is like mistaking a veggie burger for a juicy steak.

Reassurance seeking is the third and most elusive piece of the advice gap puzzle. It’s this yearning for validation, this need to hear that your instincts are spot on, that you’re the one who’s going to shake up the status quo and make a difference. It’s the voice in your head that says, “Screw the naysayers, I know what I’m doing.”

Now, I’m all for self-belief and confidence, but let’s get one thing straight—reassurance isn’t advice. Reassurance is a pat on the back, a temporary confidence booster. It’s like a shot of espresso—it might give you a quick jolt of confidence, but it’s not a sustainable source of energy.

But here’s the kicker—reassurance is insatiable. It’s a beast that needs constant feeding. You can’t just have one portion of reassurance and call it a day. No siree, you need it over and over again, creating a vicious cycle that diverts you from seeking and applying genuine advice.

The real problem arises when you start mistaking this reassurance for advice. You hear what you want to hear, rather than what you need to hear. You surround yourself with yes-men who boost your ego, instead of critics who can offer constructive advice. This, my friends, is a one-way ticket to disaster town.

So, how do you break free from this reassurance seeking cycle and start embracing genuine advice? That’s exactly what we’re about to delve into in the upcoming sections. Stick around, because we’re about to bridge that damn advice gap once and for all.

Bridging the Advice Gap

Now that we’ve identified the three horsemen of the advice apocalypse: the confusion created by pervasive advice, the misapplication of good advice, and our often insatiable desire for reassurance over real talk, it’s time to step up our game. Let’s bridge this advice gap, people!

First things first, recognizing and selecting good advice is akin to selecting ripe avocados at the supermarket—it’s an art. There are no hard and fast rules, but with some experience and a discerning eye (or in this case, mind), you’ll get better at it. Here’s a pro tip: Look for advice that has stood the test of time and has been backed by the experiences of multiple successful individuals. You see, wisdom has a way of standing tall amid a sea of fleeting trends.

But let’s not forget the ‘special case’ myth. Yes, your situation is unique, and the advice you get might not be tailor-made for you. But that doesn’t mean it’s not applicable. It’s about taking the essence of the advice and adapting it to your specific circumstances. Think of it as a jigsaw puzzle where you have to figure out how each piece fits into your unique situation.

This leads us to the conservative nature of advice. Yes, it can be frustrating when all the advice you get tells you to play it safe, but here’s the twist—you don’t have to take it at face value. You can push boundaries while still respecting the fundamental wisdom in the advice. It’s about finding the balance between disruption and tradition, between innovation and caution. It’s like jazz music—once you know the rules, you can improvise and make it your own.

Then we come to reassurance. Now, I’m not going to tell you to stop seeking reassurance entirely. We all need a pat on the back from time to time. But it’s crucial to differentiate between when you’re seeking reassurance and when you’re seeking advice. Remember, reassurance is your comfort food—it’s good once in a while, but it’s not going to provide the balanced diet you need to grow.

Finally, it all comes down to your approach towards advice. Seek, process, and apply—this should be your new mantra when it comes to advice. Seek advice from a variety of sources, process it critically, and apply it intelligently. Don’t let the overwhelming abundance of advice intimidate you. Instead, turn it into your strength, a rich resource you can tap into whenever you’re in a bind.

Bridging the advice gap isn’t a quick fix—it’s a journey of self-improvement and critical thinking. But hey, no one ever said it was easy, right?

The Power of Mentorship in Bridging the Advice Gap

Just when you thought we were done tackling the advice gap, I bring up mentorship. That’s right, my fellow entrepreneurs, a mentor can be the golden bridge over the tumultuous river of advice, guiding you from confusion to clarity.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you should follow every word your mentor says like a gospel. No, that would be swapping one problem for another. Instead, think of a mentor as a seasoned sailor, someone who knows the ropes, understands the weather patterns, and can help you navigate through your journey.

Let’s take a little detour down the memory lane of successful individuals. Bill Gates had Ed Roberts, founder of MITS. Steve Jobs had Robert Noyce, co-founder of Intel. Even Luke Skywalker had Yoda, for crying out loud! The bottom line? Mentorship matters.

So, how does a mentor help bridge the advice gap? For starters, they can provide personalized advice. Unlike the generic advice you might find in a blog post or self-help book, a mentor can tailor their advice to your specific circumstances, helping you navigate your unique challenges and opportunities. It’s like having a custom-made suit, tailored to fit you and only you.

Mentors also provide a balanced blend of reassurance and advice. They know when you need a confidence boost and when you need a reality check. They understand the balance between nurturing your audacity and reining you in when you’re about to leap without looking.

However, finding the right mentor is a quest in itself. You need someone who understands your industry, respects your vision, and is willing to invest their time and energy into your growth. It’s not about finding the most successful person you can think of—it’s about finding someone who genuinely wants to help you succeed.

Above all, mentorship isn’t a one-way street. It’s not just about taking—it’s also about giving, learning, and growing together. As the old saying goes, when one teaches, two learn.

In conclusion, a mentor can be an invaluable asset in your journey to bridge the advice gap. They can provide the guidance you need while respecting your individuality, helping you navigate this often-confusing world with greater clarity and confidence. Remember, no one is an island, especially in the business world.

Conclusion: Making Advice Work for You

Alright, folks, we’ve had quite the journey. We’ve waded through the murky waters of pervasive advice, dissected the myth of the ‘special case’, called out our love for reassurance, and even found a potential ally in mentorship. Let’s wrap this up in a neat bow, shall we?

First off, let’s remember the advice gap. It’s that annoying, yawning chasm between the abundance of advice out there and the difficulties we face in recognizing, selecting, and applying it. It’s a pickle, but not an insurmountable one.

As we’ve discovered, advice isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s a flexible, malleable tool that you can tailor to fit your unique situation. You’re not some off-the-rack individual—you’re couture, baby! So, your approach to advice should reflect that.

Your journey into entrepreneurship isn’t a solo expedition. It’s a communal hike. That’s where mentors come in. They’re your seasoned trail guides, helping you navigate the treacherous terrains and enjoy the scenic vistas of the entrepreneurial landscape.

And remember, it’s not just about seeking advice, but about processing and applying it too. Don’t just hoard advice like some sort of wisdom dragon. Be proactive, be critical, and make that advice work for you.

Lastly, let’s not forget the reassurance trap. A pat on the back is nice, but it won’t get you far if you’re heading in the wrong direction. Be open to critical advice, to hard truths, to reality checks. They might sting a little, but they’ll propel you forward in the long run.

In a world overflowing with advice, bridging the advice gap can seem like a daunting task. But with the right approach and the right mindset, you can transform that overload of advice from a stumbling block into a stepping stone. Remember, the advice is out there, waiting for you. All you’ve got to do is reach out and make it your own.

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.