Advice on Advice

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Ever given?
What advice do you wish you had ignored?
What guidance do you wish you could retract?

“Advice is like snow; the softer it falls the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it seeks into the mind.”>
~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I recently met Raul Valdes-Perez, an advice “expert,” author of the new book, Advice is For Winners. He looks at advice from every angle, with tangible tools of when, where, why and how to look for (and give advice). I asked him for some additional insights for our LGL community.

Advice: The Interview

Q: Of the 28 reasons you list for why people don’t seek advice, which 2 or 3 do you think are the most common?

“The most common by far is that people just don’t think of it, because they’re not in the habit. Other reasons are that they don’t know whom to ask, or they don’t recognize that actual knowledge is helpful. My overall message is that when facing a problem or issue, ask yourself if you have the knowledge and experience to deal with it, and if not, who does and can help.”>

Q: You share lots of great quotes on advice, which best represents you view (or which is your favorite?) 

“For its wit, brevity, and substance, my favorite is: “Those who have no children bring them up well.”

Q: What’s the best advice you ever received? 

“For me, advice must take account of your circumstances, goals, and constraints; otherwise it’s not advice, but principles, methods, or examples. My most memorable advice concerned how best to go about raising investment capital while I was Vivisimo’s CEO, some seven years after its founding. I met with three local CEOs, explained our situation, and followed one of their recommendations, with the confidence that I wasn’t overlooking something.”

Q: What inspired you to write this book?

“When I co-founded Vivisimo with two other computer scientists, none of us knew anything about business. As the senior member of the three, as CEO of a company without outside investors, and as the only one authorized to work (initially!), I had to make lots of decisions. Besides reading a lot about all aspects of business, I regularly got targeted advice after explaining our situation to others. It then occurred to me that lots of people make wrong decisions, avoidably, for lack of getting advice, both in life and work.”

Q: Of course, my standard question.”What makes you “skip to work?”

“I love to make something out of nothing, and to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Getting advice seemed like a simple topic, but it’s been possible to uncover many dimensions whose mastery will make anyone a better decision maker.”
Posted in Communication and tagged , , , .

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, Founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association's 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of 3 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak.


  1. This post offers some good perspective. I often seek advice but have trouble deciding what to act upon. Raul’s quote: “advice must take account of your circumstances, goals, and constraints” gives me a good litmus test. Too often, I feel, advice ends up more about the person who is giving it than the one who is seeking it.

  2. Eric, Thanks so much for adding that. It is hard to decide which to act upon. I receive much advice that I choose to ignore. I agree with you that sometimes the advice is “more about the person giving it.” That can be an issue. On the other hand, I have received some fantastic advice that has helped me tremendously. Raul shared another example with me about how he needed advice when about asbestos when he was considering buying an old house. That was a clear example to me of a time it was great to seek out advice from a expert-friend, rather than forging ahead with a bit of info from the internet. People are often honored to be asked.

  3. What a thought-provoking question.

    I believe the best advice I ever received was from an experienced colleague – at the time the father of three adult children – upon the birth of my first child. “Enjoy him while he is young,” he exhorted me. “He will grow so fast.” Given the heartfelt sincerity with which he said this, I knew this was advice I should listen to, and I always tried to follow it.

    Seeing how wise these words have proven to be, it is also the one bit of advice I never hesitate to “pay forward.”

  4. Best advice I was ever given… When it comes to wisdom; what is true isn’t new, what is new isn’t true. New knowledge comes out every day….but true “live-your-life” wisdom…it’s been around forever. People way more clever than I come up with amazing ways to wordsmith old Wisdom…but again….it still has roots in the tested soil of time. For me, this is why I love the book of the Bible, Proverbs. It’s becoming more and more a testing ground for me of advice.

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