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Will's books

Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town
3 of 5 stars
The story of Bassett furniture and John Bassett III in particular is a great one that should be told. Beth Macy does a reasonable job telling it, but spends much too much time discussing her challenges and experiences writing the book as...
The Silent Man
5 of 5 stars
Another great John Wells book. I previously compared Alex Berenson and his hero, John Wells, with Vince Flynn and his troubled CIA agent/assassin, Mitch Rapp. Towards the end of Flynn's short life and in his final Rapp books, Flynn got a...
Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones
2 of 5 stars
When I was looking up reviews of drones on the web, I found several mentions of this "book" (a pamphlet,really). It's OK,but all the information can be easily found elsewhere online. The repeated warning about crashing your drone and sta...
The Martian
5 of 5 stars
Wow. Just . . . wow. This was one of the most entertaining books I have read in a long time. The story is fabulous and the execution wonderful. Basically a diary of an astronaut left behind in an escape from a failed Mars mission (though...
The Ghost War
5 of 5 stars
I've read a few other of Berenson's John Wells books before and found them entertaining,although not up to the standard set by Vince Flynn and his hero, Mitch Rapp. Sadly, Flynn passed away and having finished all the Mitch Rapp books, I...

Does the Loudest Person You Hear Give the Best Advice?

I’m fortunate that I get to work with many startups, both independently and with TechStars where I’m a mentor.  There is no better way to learn than through teaching (learning is the most fun you can have, at least for a sustained period) and there are few better students than entrepreneurs.  Good entrepreneurs always want to know why they should do something and not just what they should do.  They test, challenge and refuse to take anything for granted; they’re highly motivated, smart and understand success is not about them as an individual, but about the team they can build; and they strive not only to make their first venture a success but also to become strong, solid leaders and managers that can build many great companies.

So, with all these qualities, it shocks me how often entrepreneurs choose a mentor because they’re the loudest guy in the room.  You know that person, the one who likes to talk incessantly about all of his or her accomplishments and is quick to give advice on any and all subjects.  The person who speaks before listening and has never had any failures.  Yeah, that guy.  Somehow, in the sponge-like desire that good entrepreneurs have to vacuum up every morsel of knowledge, they often attach themselves to the first person who sounds like they know anything.  Unfortunately, that’s usually the one who brags the loudest.

So, here’s a simple three-step plan on how to avoid adopting Mr./Ms. Know-it-all as your savior:

  • First, recognize that you’re your only savior, everyone else is there merely to supply data, offer up some wisdom and, maybe, hold your hand.
  • Second, put yourself in a situation where you can get access to many mentors.  You can do a load of legwork or sign up for a program like TechStars where mentorship (and a boat load of mentors to choose from) is the core of the program.
  • Finally, ask questions.  Don’t grill a potential mentor, after all, you’re looking for free help.  Instead, have a conversation and learn about what the person has actually done – how they’ve succeeded and how they’ve failed.  Make sure they have real accomplishments and real failures (you learn more from failures than successes) and can communicate what they learned in a way that works for you.  If hubris is what you hear, try somewhere else.

I’m no psychiatrist, but the loud braggart in the room is probably making up for something else (get your mind out of the gutter, I was referring to some business deficiency) or has had too much to drink.  Either way, they do you no good.  Be selective, find an adviser with both good advice based on things they’ve actually done plus the ability to communicate they way that works best for you.  You’ll be much happier and likely, more successful yourself.

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