On Advising & others

This was an email to a friend

Should you give advice?

My take on advising is one of mix emotions and mix experiences. I have come to understand and decide about it on a per case basis. That said, there are many things to consider when deciding to start advising:

1-Why? Here are two why’s: why do you want to do it? (Advise) and why would you actually do it ? The first one is about having a reason why you do it. Do you do it because it make you feel well with yourself? Why do you feel well with yourself? Is an ego thing? Is it good to encourage your ego? Is it to feel appreciated? Is it because you want to make a living out of it? Is it a skill you want to develop? Is it because you didn’t have it yourself when you need it? It is very important to have the correct “why’s”

The second why: why would you actually do it? For money? For connections? For ego? To replace something? What is the story you tell yourself and which is the real reason and the correct purpose ? If you have the first why, then the second is easier to understand and to be honest with yourself

To give you an example. Why would I give free advice in [insert group]? (Taking a side the “you are a good guy that wants to help”) Because it creates a deal flow of people and startups that are actually in different networks than the one I move in. Most are not SV. So it makes me learn and keep updated with different points of view as also give me access to a fair amount of people from where a few are really good.

2-What? What kind of advice are you giving? Just talking? Are you doing something apart of just giving your time? Are you doing research? Are you making introductions? What is the level of “advising” you want to do? (Very important)

3-How much and when? How much not as in money but in how much time do you want to spend advising (for money or for free) that you will feel great about it without thinking you are wasting time or that you want to get paid or that is too little so it doesn't give you anything back. The best thing would be to block a specific time on each week and choose who do you want to advise (with a clear purpose) and then measure and get feedback to improve. That would be the ideal

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So I personally think how much time would I spend with this person, what can I give them and track it to see my advise is good or not, what can I get in return (it can be just the satisfaction) and for how long will I do it until I feel “this is enough”

Another example: a startup I was advising [called it X] where I spend 6 months helping. In some weeks I spend as much as 8 hrs and other I would be away for weeks. The frequency depends in both needs. My take was to learn about [sector], get some good connections, be part of a team with expertise very different from mine and see if my ideas had effect. I was going to be offer stock after doing it for free for some time, but then I realize they hit a wall where my advise was not being take in consideration. If someone listens but doesn't apply, and this happens in a long period of time, then walk away. Unless you are getting really good counter points from the other side, understand you hit a “mind-wall” where you won't be able to know if you are doing them good or bad.

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Advice if you believe you can actually help and give value. Don’t do it for the sake of it. If you don’t know about something, just say that. That said, there is a serendipity in helping others. Invest your time in others and help them and it will come back. I'm a stronger believer in karma and that being a nice person pays back.