So I’m meeting with this guy and I start to tell him about a current project. And I’m not 30 seconds into the story before he says those dreaded words:
I haven’t even finished telling him what I am doing, what I’m thinking of doing or whether I plan to do anything at all. And already he’s telling me what I SHOULD be doing. Which means, of course, that my share of this conversation is over and the floor is now his.
And I’m wondering why he’s doing this. I haven’t asked for advice, so it’s not as if he is responding to a request. Maybe he’s bored with the conversation and he wants to end it, so he decides to plop some crap in my ears and move on. Perhaps he thinks I’m so dumb I won’t think of anything on my own and he must save me from myself. Or maybe he just likes the sound of his own voice.
Whatever the case, I’m now nodding as I listen to a series of generalities about things I already considered and initiatives that have little payoff. “Thanks,” I say. “I’ll think about that.” Except, of course, that I won’t think about it at all, because I already have enough work to do and I SHOULD stop wasting my time.
It did remind me, however, that guys who tell you what “you should do” will almost never, ever, ever suggest something that THEY can do FOR YOU. I’m still waiting for the first guy to say, “You should get your book promoted on Oprah. No, wait. Let me take care of that for you.”
I suspect I’ll be waiting a long, long time.