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Why We’re So Susceptible To Bad Advice

It was a Wednesday in 1997 and I was required to go to Bat Mitzvah practice. For the uninitiated, Bat Mitzvah practice is an archaic tradition that requires preadolescents to memorize songs in ancient Hebrew for several days a week for an entire year. It’s supposed to teach you about your religion, but like most things in life, there’s a giant chasm between intention and execution.

On this particular day, I had some questions about the Garden of Eden. I felt like there were some holes in the story and as a budding literary talent, I had some notes.

Instead of saying, “I’m not sure, let’s find out,” my Bat Mitzvah tutor evaded answering me.

It was the first of many encounters I had with religious authorities as a kid, but the last where I accepted imprudence.

I took my questions with me to college where I found some resolution on these issues, but mostly I found wonderful sparring partners. People who relished in the uncertainty that comes with knowledge. People who understood: The more you know, the more you discover you don’t know.

That’s what makes it fun!

(And humbling.)

Nothing is more terrifying (and dangerous) than a person who believes they know all the things. But this type of person is absurdly common because we humans are obsessed with certainty. Obsessed. We will invent it if we do not have it, to the point where we will believe delusions and fantasy in order to avoid the tension that comes with not knowing.

It’s uncomfortable to sit inside a question.

For some of us, that discomfort leads us to “hole poke” and ask follow-up questions. The tension fuels us. It becomes a fun intellectual challenge. A puzzle that needs to be solved.

For others, we rush to resolve the tension. An open-loop inside our minds is so profoundly painful we will fill it with the most convenient answer so we don’t have to think anymore.

I will be the first to concede that thinking hurts. As someone who gets derailed by her thoughts on an hourly basis, I can see the appeal of avoiding them. But it’s leading us into dangerous territory.

Anytime we avoid tension we’re avoiding growth.

One of the places we most readily avoid growth is in our careers (and families, but that’s a topic for another day). We submit to the status quo without asking: Why is this the norm? Is there a better way? If not, can I invent one?

Worse, our information diets are normalizing information that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, undermining our hole-poking efforts and getting us hooked on simple, digestible solutions.

Or as the content marketers like to call it, “templates.”

“4 Ways to Make $500 Million In Just One Weekend!” “How to Hire a VA For Less Than 25 Cents a Day.” “How To Make Millions While You Sleep!”

My dad used to say, “If it looks like a duck, talks like a duck, and smells like a duck, it’s probably a duck.”

Something smells like a duck.

I’ve you’ve ever felt pulled into the siren call of “It’s So Easy! Anyone Can Do It!” content, then have I got a #HAMYAW episode for you.

This week, my co-host Hillary and I dive into the lazy advice people are giving each other when it comes to scaling your business. Advice that fails to consider any relevant context and is leading good people to be led astray by confident-sounding charlatans.

“Just be yourself! The audience will come”

“Overwhelmed? Get a subcontractor!”

“You should do digital products.”


Smells like a GD duck.

Go make up your own mind.

Watch Hillary and Margo Yell at Websites: How To Scale Your Business Without Even Trying! 

– Margo

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Watch: How To Scale Your Business Without Even Trying 😉


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