Be Careful Who You Listen To

April 16, 2024 Eric Hinkle

"There are three kinds of lies. Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” — Mark Twain

Shortly before graduating from college, my daughter was excited to tell me the good news. "I'm going to start a business." Instead of getting a real job. 😳 After I picked myself up off the floor, I asked a few questions, like "What's your business going to do?" "How are you going to pay your rent?" There was no purpose. No plan. So, I had to ask, "Why now?" Her response, "I have nothing to lose."

While that may true, it's not a reason to start a business. Turns out, she had just walked out of a presentation by a charismatic young graduate who started a business fresh out of school. He hadn't "made it" yet, but he was already giving (bad) advice.

Make sure they know more than you.

Effective leaders surround themselves with (and listen to) a team of trusted advisors with more experience in their respective areas of expertise. Accounting. Legal. You will make better decisions if you are the dumbest person in the room. Even if they know their stuff however, context matters. What's right for someone else may not be right for you, right now. For example, I can help you scale up to and through 7 figures. But you might want a different coach when you get to 8 figures.

Trust but verify. Delegate. Don't abdicate. You're still responsible at the end of the day. I trust my financial advisor, but I still compare his performance to the strategy I would choose if I were to manage my own money. He beats me every time, which confirms my decision.

Fake news.

We know the Internet is a swamp land filled with misleading clickbait and social media algorithms designed to divide us. Their main goal is to make more money. You're simply the product they sell to their advertisers. But did you know the same is also true for our so-called "cable news" channels? Your local broadcast TV or radio channel cannot legally distort the news, but this FCC rule does NOT apply to cable channels.

Fox News lawyers argued in court that Mr. Carlson’s statements “cannot reasonably be interpreted as facts. He is instead engaging in 'exaggeration' and 'non-literal commentary.'” MSNBC and others are just as guilty. I used to watch one cable news channel. Until I realized I was only hearing half the story.

We will believe a lie if it’s repeated often enough.

Known as the "illusory truth effect". It’s easier for our brain to process (and believe) information we’ve heard before. And you can’t outsmart your biology, no matter how smart you are. That’s why some politicians are still popular even when they are known to be liars. And how we ended up with fake news on both sides of the aisle. If you’re a political junkie, consider watching a channel you normally wouldn’t. Better yet, checkout AllSides or RealClearPolitics for a neutral and more balanced approach.

"What do you want the data to say?"

That was the question I was asked when I assigned a project to a new hire while I was leading a data analytics team. I was naive. I thought everyone approached data analysis with an open mind to learn what we don't already know. I was wrong. Since then, I've learned that most published research findings are false for various reasons, including biased industry funding. Cigarette, anyone? Confirmation bias narrows your focus on information that supports what you already (or want to) believe, while ignoring facts that go against those beliefs.

Corporate biases are driven by the almighty profit motive, but our personal biases are not based on facts either. Our biases are often learned from our environment: parents, schools, churches, media, etc. Pay attention to your biases. The most objective people are those who know they are subjective. If biases are learned, they can also be unlearned. We can teach ourselves to notice our biases without trying to push them away. And then make a deliberate decision about how they serve us. Or not. With a growth mindset, we can learn to Think Again.



Share This: