What do you do with unsolicited advice?
This is my method for deciding to listen or...not.
🥳 Hey, Kasey here! Welcome to this week’s 🏔High Growth Founders🏔 newsletter.
If you are a builder, creator, or project starter who embraces life’s challenges to extract the growth lessons within them, you are a High Growth Founder.
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In this Week’s Issue:
Social Writing Bootcamp: Check out my new cohort-based course with Erica Schneider
Growth Insight: What do you do with unsolicited advice?
Build a Better Business: Build a sustainable, profitable, and less-stressful freelance, solopreneur, or small business with Impactful Founder + CEO Zach Weismann
High Growth Founders Episode: My 5 Step Method to build a Personal Brand
Social Writing Bootcamp:
Have the strategy, system, and skills to build authority & earn cash.
We launch on November 14th.
Anyone who signs up will have access to each quarterly cohort for the next year.
And let me know if cost is an issue. We have some options.
Growth Insight: What to do with unsolicited advice?
Whenever you do something new, people will watch, judge, and, frequently, comment.
If you’re a new entrepreneur or starting to build a personal brand online, this will happen. And it can be confusing, frustrating, and, frankly, annoying AF.
How do you deal with unsolicited advice?
It can be challenging to know when to listen and when to smile, nod, and silently tell them to go f*** themselves.
Here is my process for deciding how to handle it.
First, you MUST know yourself.
If you have a clear vision of where you want to go, it becomes significantly harder for well-meaning, but poorly informed advisors to knock you off course.
But, keep in mind, when you’re starting out, you might not know where you’re going. Your vision might still be hazy as you take one step at a time to navigate the haze that lies ahead.
In that case, you must instead evaluate the advice itself.
Next, evaluate the source of the advice.
All advice is not created equally. Some come from well-informed, generous, and good-intentioned sources. Other feedback is more representative of the particular limitations, motives, and biases of the giver.
To determine which fits a particular situation, assess these criteria:
Do you want to emulate them?
When someone gives you advice, think to yourself — do I want my life to look like theirs? They are advising you from their own distinct perspective, which presumably means that if you heed their words you are likely to end up following a path similar to theirs. Is that what you want?
It took me far too long to learn this lesson.
Years ago, I had a mentor whom I indeed respected and admired. And he supported me during a very dark time in my career and business. But he would often complain that people never wanted to pay for services and I knew he lived mostly paycheck to paycheck.
It took me months to realize it, but the longer we stayed close, the more I struggled financially. His negativity had seeped into my psyche. Distancing myself from him was needed for my sanity, success, and financial stability.
Do they have experience in the subject?
Often times you’ll get advice from people who know very little about which they’re counseling you. This is very common in both personal branding and entrepreneurship.
Someone new to Twitter will coach you on the hooks you should use or someone who’s been an in-house accountant their whole career will tell you how to improve your marketing.
They might have a point. Their idea might be clever, insightful, or even innovative. But it also might be total shit.
It’s up to you to decide.
Can they relate to your unique challenges?
I get extremely frustrated on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn where there is an abundance of personal branding advice coming from a very specific segment of people.
The vast majority of courses, template packs, and advice comes from wealthy, highly educated, straight, cis-gendered, somewhat bro-y white men with narrowly defined niches (digital writing, digital product solopreneurs, etc.).
And I’ve learned that if you look like them or are trying to achieve something extremely similar to them, the advice may work.
But if you are remotely different — a woman, a person of color, or have a more complex business model — it simply doesn’t work.
Do they understand YOU and what you’re trying to achieve?
Now, someone might be a person you want to emulate, and they might have some domain expertise in whatever feedback they’re giving you. But that doesn’t mean they understand your goals or even the audience you’re trying to serve.
Sometimes they built their business, generated their revenue, or created success through a particular method and your dream is to reach similar heights but in a different way.
Their advice, while sound, still may not be right for you.
Now, assess their angle.
Keep in mind that often when we are doing something new, it is our oldest friends and family who will be the harshest critics.
Sometimes you’re threatening their comfortable relationship with you.
Sometimes you are forcing them to face their own unmet goals, talents, or dreams.
And other times, they simply don’t get it. They do different things and can’t understand why you’d take a risk like this.
Often times people give us advice because our actions impact them in some way. It might be because you’re forcing them to face their own stagnancy or fears. But it might also be that your growth affects them materially.
Ask yourself: Does this person have a vested interest in your success…or failure?
Have they supported your goals and dreams before?
Their advice may serve to justify their own choices in life.
Or it may serve their own goals.
You have to decide whose interests their advice serves. Yours or theirs?
Now, get self-reflective.
When we get advice we tend to have one of a few common reactions:
We get defensive
We feel shame and want to ‘fix’ it
We ignore it until we have a reason not to
We decide it’s helpful and follow it
Know why you choose to ignore advice
If you’re quickly dismissing the advice you’re being given, ask yourself why. Perhaps you’ve looked at the many criteria described above and feel confident that it’s not good advice. But perhaps it’s something else.
Sometimes we ignore good advice because it’s hurtful and forces us to look at parts of our life or behavior we’d rather believe are a-ok. Many of us come from families or backgrounds where criticism ran rampant.
Getting feedback of any sort can feel stressful, triggering our old feelings of insecurity and lack of self-worth.
Make sure you’re setting it aside for the right reasons.
Know why you choose to follow advice
The flip side can be true. Many of us who grew up in highly critical households managed those environments by learning to quickly people-please and bend to the wants, needs, and wills of others.
Unlearning this behavior can be extremely challenging.
Are you following this advice because it’s right for you or because you feel compelled to please or impress the giver?
How much evidence is there to support the advice?
Sometimes you get the same advice or feedback from multiple sources. At first, it’s easy to ignore, but over time you realize there’s validity to the message.
In college and in the years following, I struggled to make friends. Not always, but in certain environments, especially larger groups, I found people to be rather standoffish.
It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I had a few people tell me they assumed I was “bitchy and aloof” and were surprised to find me friendly, kind, and approachable.
I realized that while I came across as very confident in classrooms or at work, in social settings, I would get quiet, shy, and awkward. The juxtaposition of these two presentations made me seem not shy in social settings, but intentionally cold.
People were standoffish because, in their view, I was standoffish.
Getting this feedback was life-changing for me. I’m still awkward at social events, but I do a much better job of explaining why and combatting it when I can.
Sometimes you get feedback that you know isn’t representative of who you are. But after a while you realize, it’s still how people see you and you’re the only one who can change their perception.
Lastly, Get a Second Opinion
One of the many reasons, I am a vocal advocate that we all need close professional friends on similar journeys — entrepreneurs, people building personal brands — is for this very reason.
Sometimes you need to ask someone you like, trust, and respect, who knows you well: what do you think?
Hopefully, you’ll have someone who can give you wise counsel and help you navigate whether you listen…or not.
It is rarely easy to know how to respond to unsolicited advice, but when you take a thoughtful, measured approach, it does get easier.
Build A Better Business with Impactful Founder & CEO, Zach Weismann
This is a 4-week intensive online course where we dive into how you can build a sustainable, profitable, and less-stressful freelance, solopreneur, or small business.
Zach walks you through tried and true practices of identifying your core impact, leveraging your specific knowledge, and learning from the latest business development tools and practices that have helped him close more than $10M in new business in his career to date.
Zach is the Founder of Impactful with 15+ years of working with global brands in over 40 countries.
Space is limited and registration closes on 11/8th!
HGF Episode: My 5-Step Framework to Craft a Personal Brand
We go deep into everything I described in my recent Twitter thread about how you do NOT need to pick a niche for your brand.
Instead, follow these 5 steps to craft a personal brand THEME.
I’ve trained 100s of entrepreneurs this method that helps you be authentically you and stand out from the noise on social media.
Thanks, as always, for reading this newsletter. It means the world to me that you join me (almost) every week.
In Love and Growth,