How I give advice to people


During a recent AMA I did on, my friend Laura Fitton asked me this question:

I’ve been extremely lucky to have many generous mentors take time to help me figure stuff out, and you always stand out as one of the best I’ve met. I also know you have mentored probably dozens, if not hundreds, of people who have asked for help. With that in mind:

What advice do you have for those who seek advice? How can folks become better at asking for advice and being mentored?

I’ve had a draft of this written up but never posted it, so I shared the draft in the AMA. Here’s a cleaned up version of it that I hope helps you:

Most people start asking for advice by asking me what I did.

When you started KISSmetrics how did you start your blog?
When you hired your first sales person where did you find them?
When you raised your first round of funding how did you do it?

People tend to naturally start with questions like this because it’s how they think. For them, it’s the easiest way to start the conversation.

These are my least favorite type of questions. For me, it’s not valuable to talk about what I did over and over again. It’s also not valuable for the person seeking advice.

When I get asked these types of questions, I ask more questions back. I also try to reframe what they are saying.

Are you trying to figure out how you should do marketing for your business?
Are you starting a sales team and trying to hire the first person?
Are you thinking about raising money for your company?

I want to provide as much value as possible to the people I meet with which is why I don’t enjoy talking about myself or my own experiences.

What’s most valuable for them is to give specific advice based on people’s own situation. It’s also how I can be most helpful, not by telling them about my experiences but by getting context about their situation and then helping them think about it.

I get the greatest joy when helping other people think about what they should do.

The next time you meet with someone to get advice don’t ask them about their past experiences. Share your situation with them so you can learn how they would think about what you should do next. Simply give them the context and have them help you think. It will lead to a better conversation that’s more helpful to you.