You Just Can’t Know
James Altucher recently published an excellent blog post on “The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Investing All of Your Money”. Here he repeats the following point over and over again:
The most important three words in investing is: “I don’t know”. If someone doesn’t say that to you then they are lying.
This sentence holds true not only for investing but also pretty much all the advice you get as an entrepreneur. Any advice which is based on past experiences (the fabled “serial entrepreneur” mentor) is so deeply contextual (time, people, circumstances) that it’s essentially worthless. I keep telling people that there are no maps, and that whatever is presented to you as a map is always their map, not yours.
Which is not to say that advice is not valuable and that you should not listen to what other people have to say. Just know that every piece of advice should come with the following disclaimer:
“I don’t know. Here is what I did when I was in a somewhat similar (but also very different) situation. Let’s discuss how this could help you in your situation.”
Remember: Although history tends to repeat itself (in broad patterns) — no two situations are ever the same.