A forthcoming book by personal finance writer Zac Bissonnette compiles some of the best advice you’ll encounter, made all the more insightful and ironic, if not downright terrifying, when you learn who proffered it.
Entitled Good Advice from Bad People: Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong, the volume includes the following gems:
“When you know what you are talking about, others will follow you, because it’s safe to follow you.”
That’s Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld, from 2006, a couple of years before Lehmans nosedived, foreshadowing the global financial crisis.
“I think the most important thing is restore a sense of idealism and end the cynicism.”
That’s future Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, currently serving a 14-year jail term for corruption,. in 2002
From 1987, here’s Donald Trump:
“You can’t be too cocky, anyone who thinks they are going to win them all is going to wind up a huge loser.”
And there’s this:
“The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuse, that’s the day you start to the top.”
That’s OJ Simpson in 1975.
News of the book arrives via Lucy Kellaway, columnist for the Financial Times.
She describes having been asked by a reader for the “ wisest piece of advice that I’d ever been given”. But despite two decades ”up to my neck in advice from business leaders in books, blogs, articles and interviews … none of it has stuck”.
Kellaway consulted the CV-sharing site LinkedIn, and their “collection of top advice from its ‘influencers’ – the big names who write blogs on the site for the general glory of it”.
Such as: “Create a win-win situation; Lead with your head, heart and hands; Learn to tell stories; Be in the game.”
These might be “drearily feeble”, but they’re at least harmless.
Others less so.
“One person advises: ‘It’s OK not to know’. On the contrary, it’s not OK at all,” she writes.
How about, “Knowing yourself is the key to success”?
“Again, no it is not. As Oscar Wilde once pointed out, only the shallow can ever know themselves.”
If pushed, however, Kellaway is willing to offer one tip. “My advice goes like this: If you ever find a zone that is truly comfortable, don’t dream of getting out of it. Stay put.”
See also: Advice for the internet-dependent