Good Advice, Bad Advice And Stupidity

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Good Advice, Bad Advice and Stupidity

Episode Summary

Do you wonder if the person with whom you are speaking is actually an expert?

Is the “coach” you hired someone you can trust?

Has consultant giving advice to your CEO being thoroughly vetted?

In this episode of the Valtimax Podcast we outline criteria for selecting an expert.

There is so much dishonesty and fraud in the advice business that making a clear choice can be difficult.

This audio program is your guide to picking a great expert.

Here is a transcript of this episode of the Valtimax Podcast:

Good Advice, Bad Advice And Stupidity

Hi, my name is Dave Lorenzo and this is the recording I’m doing as the 40th episode of the Valtimax podcast, and although each of our episodes are unique, this episode is going to be particularly different than the ones that preceded and the reason for that is that this episode is really going to give you some insight into the advice business. My job as a consultant is to help improve the condition of my client. I’m here to help you make a great living and live a great life, and I provide lots of guidance along those lines, both free and for a fee to people in multiple countries, people all over the United States, and people in various industries.

The bulk of my practice is with professionals: lawyers, doctors, CPAs, folks who provide services for a fee. Now, I’ve spent the better part of 5 years working almost exclusively with attorneys, so many of the people who listen to this are going to be attorneys and some of them will be in private practice, some of them will be perhaps in government work, others will work for large firms and some will be solo practitioners or in small or boutique firms, and that’s absolutely fine. Everything that I’ve offered to you thus far works in any of those settings, but today we’re not going to talk about specific strategies or drill down into specific tactics.

Today, I’m going to help you decide who you should listen to when it comes to advice. You see, there are thousands of people out there that will readily give you guidance and support in areas they have no experience, no functional experience whatsoever, and this guidance, this support is most likely worthless. The key for you is deciding who you should listen to, who you should trust, and who you should not. As I said at the outset, I offer lots of free guidance and support to people. There are videos at Valtimax.com and on YouTube that you can look for. Just Google my name and the videos will come up. There are audio programs like this one, both on Valtimax.com and in other places, and then there are articles. Hundreds and hundreds of articles that I’ve published at Valtimax.com and RainmakerLawyer.com. In various publications over the years, there are the books that I’ve written.

Most of the stuff that you can look at from me provides great advice absolutely free of charge and the advice that I give comes from my 23 years of experience, and most often it comes from things I’ve actually done or things I’ve helped my clients to do. I can think of maybe 2 or 3 instances where I’ve had to give clients advice during the past 5 to 10 years on things with which I had no experience, and the reason for that is because I simply choose not to offer advice or guidance and support in areas that I know nothing about.

Now, there have been times when a client has engaged me to do deep research on an issue or topic with which I’ve had no experience and I did the research and then provided guidance and support based on the research. That’s just good consulting, but most often the advice that I give to professionals comes from things that I’ve either done in my consulting practice or helped my clients to do over the years. It wasn’t this way when I started out. It was much more deductive rather than inductive, but nowadays the advice that I provide primarily comes from experience. That’s how I know what I can offer works for most people.

Today, I’m going to share with you some thoughts on the advice business that is come not only from my own personal experience in engaging clients of mine, but my own personal experience myself in working with people who provided advice and guidance to me. See this is a big clue for those of you who are out there seeking the advice of an expert right now. If your expert is not also engaged in the process of continuous improvement, if your expert is not out there availing himself or herself of the advice and the guidance and support of other experts, this person is doing you an injustice.

I must, as a consultant, stay on the cutting edge of my field, and the way that I do that is by working with people who can coach me, by working with people who help me bring my skills along and make sure I stay on the cutting edge. I engage experts in the field of consulting, people who help me with methodology. I engage experts in the field of marketing, particularly in internet-based marketing. I need to feel … I feel like I need to stay on the cutting edge of technology, and as it advances, I may not advocate using technology all the time or for every client or in every instance, but I have to understand the new technology that’s out there, and the way that I do that is through my own continuous education process.

Today, what we’re going to talk about is good advice, bad advice, and just flat-out stupidity. I’m going to help you understand how you can select someone who provide you with good advice, and I’m going to help you understand exactly what bad advice looks like, and then I’m going to help you keep from making mistakes that I would consider just sheer stupidity. First and foremost, let’s get into how you select someone who offers good advice.

The first tip I can give you in this regard is to try their free stuff. If their free stuff is high quality, and again I told you that I provide free videos. You know I provide free audio content. I provide free step-by-step guide on both RainmakerLawyer.com and Valtimax.com for business owners, lawyers and professionals. Try the free stuff offered by any consultant before you hire him or her. If the free stuff works, if the free guidance they put out there works, then invest a little bit of money. If you like my free advice, if you like what you read on the blogs, if you like what you hear here, if you like what you see in the videos, buy one of my books, buy Career Intensity, buy Client Attraction Secrets for Lawyers or buy one of my programs on the website.

My programs, the investment in one of my programs is as little as 100 bucks and it goes up to a $1000, but that’s much less than the investment of 30 or 40 or $50,000 in working with me in a coaching or consulting relationship. First, try the free stuff. If the free stuff works for you, make a little investment. If the stuff in the little investment works for you, then make a bigger commitment and work with someone full-time that you think will make the big difference for you. The first tip I can give you on how to select someone who offers advice is try their free stuff first.

The second tip I can give you is call former clients. If you go to any of my websites, you will see testimonials up there from people who are actual clients and I put their full names up there and the city that they live and work in, and I do this with their complete permission. Why do I do that? One is for credibility, but two you can look those people up, and you can call them and ask them how the work they did with me went. Now, that is a powerful secret that most people do not use when it comes to working with anyone.

You should always get references from anyone you’re going to work with and when you do, you should get references from the people who they believe they’ve had the greatest impact upon. Then, you should ask … this is the third tip by the way. You should ask me or any other consultant with whom you’re planning on working for the name and phone number of someone who fired them. I view working with someone just for a short period of time as somebody who not renewed or somebody who fired me, so I would be happy to give the names and the information of people who’ve decided not to continue working with me after working with me for a short period of time, and they can give you the reasons why they decided not to work with me.

Here’s what you’ll hear from people who worked with a good consultant. What you’ll hear is that they enjoyed the experience and it was worthwhile, but they didn’t see the reason to continue the relationship for their own reasons. The reasons won’t have involved the consultant or the consultant’s work quality or the experience they had with the consultant, and this is a very important point. When you get references from someone and you get references from someone who’s no longer working with the consultant or even if you’re using this to hire a lawyer, if you get references from someone who’s no longer working with that lawyer, make sure that the reasons the person chose to discontinue the relationship are because of them and not because of the work quality or the experience they had with the lawyer. That’s a critical component.

By the way, anybody who doesn’t give you the name and phone number of someone who fired them is probably not a very good or reliable or reputable consultant or professional. Because we’ve all had people with whom we worked, who our personalities weren’t compatible or the project just ended and they had no need for our services. Most people should be happy to give you the names and phone numbers of those folks.

The fourth tip is to get an answer to the biggest mistake question. Ask the person, consultant or other professional, what the biggest business mistake they’ve ever made is, and they should be able to give you an answer that you can live with. Now, I will tell you that the advice, the guidance that I give my clients, a lot of that comes from making mistakes. I’ve taken the risks, so my clients don’t have to. I’ve invested in bad advertising. I’ve spent money on things that went absolutely nowhere, and I’m happy to give that advice to my clients so that they don’t waste their money, so that they don’t spend their money in ways that will not be helpful to them in their business. I’m happy to answer the biggest mistake question if people call and ask me.

When someone will not answer that question, one of two things is true. Either they haven’t taken any risks, and in that case, they’re not going to be a good fit for you because you’re taking a big risk by starting your own business, by starting your own professional practice, or they’re flat-out just not telling you the truth. Okay, the next point is make sure that the person is mission-driven, all right. If somebody who is giving you advice with a sense of purpose and a sense of mission that you agree with, is going to be far better for you in the long term than someone who isn’t.

The example that I’ll give you from my own practice is that we help people make a great living and live a great life, and I do that because I live it myself. I focus my whole practice on … I build my whole practice around spending great quality time with my family, with my friends, and on the things that are important to me. I may not make a 100 million dollars ever, but I will go through life happy and enjoying what I have because that’s the way I’m building my business, and that’s the way I help my clients build their businesses. If you’re interested in working with a consultant or with a coach or with anyone in the advice industry, make sure that your goals, your mission is congruent with that of the consultant.

Don’t work with me if you are a ruthless when it all costs, make a 100 million dollars every year, and let your personal life be damned person, because that’s not me. That’s not who I am, and although I can help you make a lot of money, I’m not built to be ruthless and cutthroat in that process. Just not me. All right, ask your potential consultant or your potential client about … I’m sorry your potential consultant or your potential advice giver about clients that they’ve turned away.

I regularly turn away clients all the time, and I turn away clients because I just don’t believe I’m a good fit for them. I turn them away because quite frankly they’re not the type of person I believe will take action on the advice that I give, or I turn them away simply because I’ve given them some step-by-step instructions on what to do before we worked together and they just don’t follow it. Ask the consultant that you’re thinking about working with who they’ve turned away and why.

Finally, ask the people with whom you’re about to work why people who work with them may not succeed. Now, I wish I could tell you that 100% of my clients always succeed, 100% of my clients succeed, but that’s just not the case. In fact, probably 1 to 2% of my clients get a phenomenal return on their investment, 50 or 100 times return on their investment. You heard me correctly. 1 to 2% get a 50 or 100 times return on their investment. 10% of my clients get a 10 times return on their investment, which is also fantastic, probably 20 or better by the way.

20% of my clients may get a 2 or 3 times return on their investment. About 30% of my clients overall get a significant return on their investment. Then, the other remaining percentage of my clients either break even on their investment or they receive some type of value that’s intangible that you can’t measure, or they simply don’t receive any value at all and they continue on with their lives the way they were when they came to me.

Now, if you ask me, and you should ask me or any other advice giving professional why people do not receive a return on investment from their services, there has to be an answer to that question. If you asked me that question, I would tell you that the 70% of people who either receive an intangible return on investment or don’t receive any return on investment at all, do not take action on the guidance that I provide them, and this is critically important. I’m going to be upfront and honest with you. I’m telling you in this free program right now that 70% of the people I work with don’t take action.

I’m telling you right now that if you’re in that 70% and you invest whatever amount of money in me that you invest, whether it’s $20 for a book or $50,000 for one-on-one coaching, if you don’t take action, if you don’t take action, you’re not going to get a favorable return on your investment. That’s not going to be good for you, and it’s not going to be good for me. You need to make sure that you’re ready to take action before you come to work with me, but even more importantly, you need to ask any advice giving professional with whom you intend to work, why people don’t succeed and what percentage of people don’t succeed.

I just gave you the percentages in my practice. It’s far higher than I would like, but it’s the reality. It’s just the way it is. I can’t take action for other people and that’s why people who work with me may not succeed in the future. You need to ask that question and you need to make sure you get an answer and it should be an honest answer. All right, now let’s talk about bad advice. How to spot some bad advice? Well, first and foremost when you seek advice, you may be seeking advice from the wrong person, so how you can spot whether or not you got the wrong person? Well, let me give you some examples.

Getting banking advice from a doctor, okay. You may be a doctor, you may seek advice from other doctors but if you’re seeking advice on banking from a doctor, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You should seek medical advice from a doctor and banking advice from a banker. All right, seeking medical advice from a CPA. That’s another example of the wrong person. Seeking accounting advice from a gardener, or seeking any advice on being a success from a homeless guy. I mean think about that for a moment.

I see, every day I see lawyers out there offering advice and guidance and support on marketing, on business strategy, and these are lawyers who claim to have been successful lawyers and they’ve ditched the practice of law because now they’re in the marketing business or they ditched the practice of law because now all of a sudden they’re business strategist. Let me tell you folks. You need to be very, very skeptical, very, very suspicious of people who have ditched their previous job and now give advice to people who are in that previous classification. Be very skeptical of that.

All right, other people who are going to give you bad advice are the people who are providing advice based in academic theory. I would never take business advice from a professor of business and here’s why. There’s a reason they’re professor of business. Those who can do and those who can’t teach. I not only give guidance and support, I run my own business. I provide people with advice. I also have licensees who teach my methodologies and systems to other people. I publish all kinds of things, products, and I provide services to people and I run that business day in and day out.

Academics are people who are in a college environment and they are teaching theory. That’s not practical. Anybody who teaches theory who hasn’t applied the theory is not someone you want to seek advice from. Anyone who is financially sensitive. This is number 3 in the bad advice column. All right, so if you come to somebody and you say to them, “Hey listen, I want you to speak in my convention. What is your speaking fee?” and they say, “Oh, the speaking fee is $2000” and the persons says, “Oh, that’s great. We had a $10,000 budget, so we’ll spend the rest that money somewhere else.” They come back to you, they try and nickel-and-dime you well. “It’s 3500 for this and 500 for that, and if you wanted me to give one-on-one advice, it’s this much money.”

Anybody who is financially sensitive, you need to run away from. I quote a fair fee for my services and then I don’t nickel-and-dime people. I quote a fair fee and you pay for my travel if I travel somewhere and that’s it. There’s no nickel-and-diming. I don’t charge by the hour. Personally, I believe the people who charge by the hour don’t have their priorities aligned with the priorities of their client. I disagree with it in every instance, particularly for attorneys. If you’re an attorney and you want to talk about it, feel free to reach out to me, but charging by the hour is not the way to go. Financially sensitive people should be avoided at all costs. Quote a fee that you feel comfortable and confident in, deliver value for that fee, and move on.

All right, someone who will take your last $500 is somebody who’s going to give you bad advice. I have people come to me all the time. They say they’re struggling. They say they’re having a really hard time making ends meet, and they want to work with me and they’re hoping that they can work with me to turn it around and they’re going to borrow money from their uncle Leo and they’re going to borrow as much money as they have to in order to work with me in a one-on-one setting. That’s not a good client for me, and I tell those people that. Those people should use the free resources that I have available. They should take those free resources and implement them and get some results, get some positive cash flow going, and then look to hire me or another expert.

Anyone who will take your last $500 with the hope of helping you, taking your last block with the hope of helping you, is not going to be helpful at all. The services that I provide and the services that most professionals provide take time to implement. A coach or a consultant who will take your last dollar is not somebody who you should ever work with. This is someone who is just in the business for money. They don’t care about long term relationships. A good consultant, a good professional, a good coach will always be in it for the long term relationship. Anybody who takes your last 500 bucks is not that person; run away from them.

Finally, as I’ve said many, many times, somebody who has no experience in the area within which they’re giving advice. I provide guidance on business strategy and marketing. I have phenomenal experience in those areas. I’ve given business strategy to Fortune 100 companies. I’ve given business strategy to over 300 attorneys. I give business strategy to professionals, every advice to professionals every single day, day in and day out. I help professionals with marketing, day in and day out. I built 3 businesses from scratch that have done over 50 million dollars in annual sales, and I do this all the time regularly.

If you want marketing or business strategy advice, I may be the guy for you, but I definitely have experience in those areas. If you come to someone for a specific type of advice and they don’t have any experience in that area, and again I go back to the attorneys who have failed as attorneys who are now giving advice on law firm marketing, are you kidding me? This is a bad idea. Taking advice from those folks is a bad idea.

All right, our final segment, the final point in this week’s Valtimax podcast and in this audio program for you, is stupidity, and I see this all the time. These are the stupid things that you can avoid doing when you’re working with an advice giving professional: consultant, a coach or a professional. Number 1, investing in something and then taking no action. Do not invest your hard earned money in a professional, in a coach, in a consultant and then take zero action. All of my one-on-one coaching is customized. If you’re going to invest 30,000, 40,000, $50,000 in customized one-on-one coaching and then take no action, that’s money you’re just throwing away. You shouldn’t do it, but I see it all the time.

People invest in coaching and then they throw their money away by not taking action, so you shouldn’t do that. That’s just stupid. Investing and infighting with the expert. If you’re going to invest your money in a coach or in a consultant and you don’t think the advice is right for you, then say okay that’s not something that’s my cup of tea. Let’s move on. People say that to me all the time. I work with people on, for example, public speaking. If you’re not a great public speaker and you don’t enjoy public speaking, I’ll tell you public speaking is a great way to attract new potential clients, but if you’re not interested in doing that, you just tell me and we move on to something different, but don’t fight with me over the fact that public speaking has never worked for you because it works for hundreds of people, and that’s my point here.

It’s just stupid for you to invest your money in an expert and then fight with that expert on whether something works or not. If you want to disregard it, it’s your prerogative to completely disregard that piece of advice and move onto the next piece of advice but don’t fight over it. Don’t fight as to whether it works or not. It does work. It’s just not going to work for you, so we’ll move on. All right, the third thing is not being realistic about your return on investment.

If you’re going to work with an expert and the expert gives you some actions to take and you take the actions and you have the dollars to invest in the programs that the expert wants you to invest in. The expert says do direct mail campaign and you do direct mail campaign, and the expert says you’re going to get a 100% return on your invest, you’re probably going to get 1 to 2% response rate, but the 1 to 2% will probably provide you with a 50% or 100% return on your investment. That’s realistic.

If you’re not realistic about the return on your investment and you go into this expecting to get a 1000% return on investment or a 100% return on your investment right off the bat in the first month, if you don’t have realistic expectations about that, you’re just being foolish. Having realistic expectations when you’re working with an advice giving professional is critically important, and even a 20 or 30% return on your investment is good in the short term and then a 100% return on your investment is phenomenal over the long term.

All right, forgetting about the human nature of advice giving professionals, okay. I am a human being. I have feelings. I have flaws. I make mistakes. As long as I apologize for them and move on, that’s an acceptable way to build a relationship. If I forget to take your call when you call in at your scheduled time, or if you’re a consultant, misses a delivery deadline by an hour or 2 and he apologizes for that and he has a good reason for that, remember that he’s human and forgive him. You’re not looking to trip somebody up all the time. This is a relationship, there’s give-and-take involved, so remember that the person with whom you’re working is human.

The fifth point I’ll make here is neediness. Neediness is absolutely stupid. When you show up for your meeting with an advice giving professional and you have a need for him or her to validate your behavior, that’s foolish and that’s going to get in the way of you performing at your peak. If you have to have your actions validated at every turn by the person with whom you’re working, that’s going to get in your way. That’s going to hinder your ability to perform at your peak levels, so eliminate neediness. Get your satisfaction from doing the work and doing the work well and get your satisfaction from the results, but don’t look to have your behavior validated by the other party.

Finally, the fifth, the sixth, I’m sorry, and final point about stupidity is never, ever, ever put any credence or trust into unsolicited feedback. If someone comes up to you and they’re going to provide you with guidance or support and you haven’t asked them for it and this is not their field of expertise, just completely disregard it. Let it roll right off your back, particularly if it’s negative. The reviews you will see online about my books, the reviews you will see online about my podcasts mean absolutely nothing to me. I don’t care if you found 500 spelling mistakes in my books. I don’t care if the audio on this program is not up to the Bose clear quality standards of your speakers. None of that matters to me.

What matters to me is that you take the advice and you implement the advice and you do so in good faith to the best of your ability and you get fantastic results. I am not concerned about anything else, and you shouldn’t be either. Here’s the bottom line on all this. Good advice, bad advice, and stupidity. When you enter into a relationship with a professional, particularly a consultant or a coach, there is a tendency for you to project your hope, your desire for success onto the other person. What you need to do, is you need to take a moment and make sure that you’re being realistic about your expectations and make sure you thoroughly vet the other person using the criteria I’ve outlined here.

We’ve just spent close to 30 minutes talking about people who give good advice, people who give bad advice, and stupidity when receiving advice. What I’d like you to do is any time you’re seeking the advice of a professional, a consultant, a coach, a lawyer, anyone who is going to give you advice, listen to this audio program and use the criteria I’ve outlined here to make the best decision you possibly can and then throw yourself into the work with that person 100%.

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