How his grandfather’s simple advice ruined his business

There was once a story, about a man in the 1920’s who had suffered through a war, through poverty selling flowers and peanuts on the streets until he discovered his talent designing print advertisements. He made some money, married his childhood sweetheart and retired.

A greater part of a century later, his grandson who had the idea of starting a t-shirt business asked him what he could do to promote his business.

“Why don’t you do print advertisements? It’s worked for me and should for you as well.”

So the young man took his grandfather’s advice. He invested his entire advertising budget into print advertisements.

The first week the advertisements ran, the store was packed with people who had seen the ad. The second week was even better. Orders were made and processed. The third week, traffic began slowing down. The people who had come were rare and few in between.

Within months, the young man was forced to close his shop; he had run out of money. The profit from the sales he had made in the first two weeks was just a fraction of the money he had spent towards making the print advertisements.

A lot of us take often advice for granted; We follow it word for word, thinking it’s key to guaranteed success.

What we don’t realize is that the advice given is often a reflection of that person’s struggles and the experience gained throughout that process. It’s not necessarily advice that’s applicable to us. Our situation, our circumstances are often drastically different than the one giving that advice and as such, there are bound to be differences in the amount of success found following that advice.

The advice given to the young man from his grandfather was solid advice; it was just advice that had been better suited fifty, sixty years ago when the internet didn’t exist yet and printing presses had been all the rage.

Advice, at the end of the day, is just advice. It’s just words passed down from one generation to another, from one person’s past to another, from one person’s experience to another. It’s not guaranteed success. It’s not a sure-fire guide to succeeding in life. We all have our own lives, but it’s up to take all advice with a gain of salt and decide for ourselves whether or not that advice is beneficial to our situation.

Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it — Harper Lee

Unsolicited advice.

A lot of people come to me for advice. For a lot of different topics, but mostly things related to entrepreneurship and design.

Over the years, I’ve grown overconfident. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but I started giving advice even when nobody was asking for it. On topics I clearly know nothing about.

An example would be me at the gym. Anytime a friend works out without proper form, I make it a habit to stop whatever rep I’m on so I can correct his form. Without him asking.

It’s silly because who am I to tell him what the proper form is? Everything I’ve learned is self-taught or from youtube. I’m not even sure if my own form is correct.

Maybe the lesson here is not to give advice if people don’t ask for it. There’s nothing wrong with giving advice; it’s just that if it’s uncalled for, maybe it doesn’t make sense to. We can see it as that we’re either not sufficiently qualified to give advice, or that person isn’t genuinely interested in seeking any. In either case, is it worth your time to give advice?

In a way, this post itself is ironic – I’m still giving advice.

The people sensible enough to give good advice are usually sensible enough to give none. – Eden Phillpotts