Who, What, When, Where, How: On Finding the Best Advice

No matter how much you’ve accomplished, everyone needs a little wise counsel

Debra Langford, vice president inclusion and diversity at NBC Universal, offers up some advice during the Power Networking Workshop, hosted by Microsoft.

Your success, in any area of life, is strongly determined by the people you surround yourself with. Not only do you require the support and encouragement of others to make meaningful progress, but you will often find yourself leaning on them for advice, as well. And as much as you may love and appreciate others, you simply can’t take financial advice from everyone!

Don’t take advice from someone who is not where you want to be or has never been where you are going.

You can’t take advice on how to start a business from someone who’s been on a 9 to 5 job for 30 years.

You can’t take advice on how to negotiate the purchase of a car from someone who depends on public transportation daily.

You can’t take advice on how to buy a home from a serial renter.

Can each of these people support and encourage you? Yes! Advise you? No.

No matter how old you are or what you’ve accomplished, everyone needs wise counsel; either someone who has had the success you desire or who has been there, done that and will be transparent enough to tell you what mistakes to avoid. Surround yourself with a team of the best consultants, coaches and confidants you can find. Create your own Mastermind Group, a special group of people with different talents and backgrounds that will help you brainstorm on ideas and provide suggestions on how you can reach your goals. These people are your support system, sounding board and even devil’s advocates when necessary. They help you stay clear of the costly mistakes you would more than likely make if left up to your own “bright ideas” and inexperienced advisors.

Here are a few tips to use as you search for your wise counsel.

1. Start with people you know. Think of people you already know across different backgrounds and industries. Make sure the basics like – a lawyer, an accountant, a computer whiz, an artist or designer, etc.- are included, but also think outside the box and make the list unique to your industry. If your goal is to be a chef, surround yourself with a nutritionist or a restaurateur so that you can bounce new dishes off of them, or even a publisher who can give you behind the scenes insight on what it takes to produce your own cookbook.

(Side Note: As you begin to do this you will begin to attract all types of brilliant people into your life. Never dismiss anyone because you’re not positive at first about whether they will be a good fit. Schedule a one-one with them to see how you can best support one another and go from there.)

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