in Work

Don’t Listen to the Experts

You know the advice you hear from so-called experts that shuts you down? The stuff that stops you from moving forward with a hobby or an idea?

You can’t record a podcast unless you have a $300 mic!

Stop paying attention to the advice from people who’ve convinced others to give them money for something you want to have fun trying.

You didn’t take the time to polish that blog post up until it shined? Why do you even bother getting out of bed?

Don’t quit! Don’t ever quit! Why are you quitting after only 5 years of trying the same thing without success? Quitter!

There’s plenty to learn from folks who are further up the road than you. Like where a good place to get clean water is. Where to get shelter from an upcoming storm.

But the insufferable tweets of people who have made a career out of something you love but that you don’t have a career in… and maybe never will? Just tune those out. They don’t help you.

They certainly don’t help me.

I think they help. I catch myself believing that if I follow their nuggets of wisdom, I’ll have the same success as they do. But it’s just not true.

Yes – you’ll have to put in hard work. Yes – you’ll have to pick yourself up when you fall and try again. Yes to having to get yourself ready for if success comes along the same path as you. Yes to all the clichés.

But what 140 character motivational tweets leave out is all the right place, right time circumstances of life things that happened to that person. The choices they made, the companies they happened to work for, the coffee shop they chose to go to where they happened to meet their partner.

I remember hearing Marco Arment, a developer and podcaster who’s internet famous in some tech circles, talk about his career path. 1 After college he ended up getting a job with a small startup called Tumblr in New York. If I remember correctly, initially he was the only employee other than the owner. While there, Arment developed Instapaper and eventually quit Tumblr to go full time on it. He’s since gone on to have many other successful apps and a top rated podcast. And along the way, Tumblr was sold to Yahoo for a couple bucks so anyone, like Arment, with shares in the company, benefited a bit.

Lots of people read his blog and listen to his podcasts — and rightfully so. He’s a pretty smart guy. But what would have happened if he got rejected by Tumblr? 2 Maybe he ends up being employee #32 at some IT Tech Support Co?

The point isn’t where Marco Arment would be in some alternate timeline. Nor is it that you shouldn’t listen to him if you like, respect, or love his work.

It’s to encourage you (and me) to stop trying to follow someone else’s path when the path has changed in the time since they walked it. Times have changed. Way more people have a podcast. Nobody reads blogs anymore. Snapchat is the new Instagram is the new Tumblr is the new Geocities. 3

The voices you think are encouraging you and giving you advice? They might just be the voices that are holding you down.

Some Practical Advice

  • If it’s someone on Twitter – try muting them for awhile and see if you miss them.
  • If you’re obsessing over their YouTube videos, unsubscribe.
  • Unsubscribe from their blog… delete their newsletters… unlike them on Facebook.

You get the idea.

If you genuinely miss their voice in your life, you’ll find them again.

But maybe by cutting that noise out of your life for awhile, you’ll find you have a few extra moments in your day to think about that hobby you’re starting. You might not feel so depressed that you don’t have the same mic they do. Or the same camera. Or the same theme on your blog.

And, more importantly, you might find your own voice that’s been stifled by the noise.


  1. I can’t find the exact podcast episode where he talked about it. Might have been Build and Analyze?

  2. I have no doubt that Arment would have found some success somewhere along the way. He has a lot of raw talent, drive, and skill that would have served him well no matter what.

  3. I may have skipped a few things along the way there.