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If you could sit down to have a meal with any person in the history of humanity, who would it be? That is an incredibly fascinating hypothetical question to consider. There are numerous ways you could go about answering it as well. Maybe you are more interested in historical facts or events. If so, talking to a former president or other iconic figure might be the choice for you. Or maybe there is a former musician or actor whose talents would be amazing to witness in person. Though, you could be a little more practical in your answer and choose someone with vast amounts of experience who could give great advice for how to be successful.
The truth is this question and subsequent answer do not have to be entirely hypothetical. While you cannot time travel or speak to the ghost of Abraham Lincoln, you can get great advice from the successful people of today. As you should. Relying on your brain without a shadow of a doubt will only bring about issues for yourself. Businessman Elon Musk gave strong evidence for this, “I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”
Securing advice from successful people is easier said than done. Thankfully, we have you covered with some excellent tips.
Identify exactly what you are in search of
Advice can be a powerful tool if you are attempting to climb the proverbial mountain of success. Hypothetically speaking, if you were climbing an actual mountain, would it be helpful to have the tools applicable to surfing or the task at hand? The answer here is obvious though it helps make a larger point – the right kind of advice is a powerful tool. Gathering advice like this falls to your shoulders.
“Seeking advice is similar to baseball card collecting in that you can have quantity or quality,” said Joshua Chin, CEO of Chronos Agency. “Don’t go around trying to stock up on worthless stuff only for the sake of collecting. Instead focus on what is specific to you because there is real value there. ”
This is very straightforward in a vacuum but applying it in reality may be another story. There is no governing body to determine if advice is or is not applicable to you. Only you can come to a conclusion in this area. This suggests some real thought and practicality is needed here. Afterall, what good is a party bag of advice? To get started on this, think about what your desired outcome is. Chances are, someone has already accomplished something similar and these people could be the exact resource you need.
“No two companies are identical so you will never be able to perfectly replicate what another is doing, nor should you want to,” said Lyudmyla Dobrynina, Head of Marketing North America at Optimeal. “But there are companies with experiential overlap who are further down the road than you. These are the companies you want to learn from.”
Who do you want to hear from?
Does your answer to the question above make sense? Like the previous point stated, there are people out there who could speak deeply into your life because of their life experiences. Conversely, there are also people who, try as hard as you might, you will never resonate with. Their ideals, experiences, or advice, differ too greatly from what your inherent nature or current endeavors are. Seeing as time waits for no man, it stands to reason that you should hone in on the people who can really make an impact.
“If you run a business whose primary source of income is through the sale of products, it doesn’t make any sense to try and learn from someone in charge of a construction,” said Phillip Akhzar, CEO of Arka. “Find a quality and pertinent role model who understands the facts of your life, as well as who you are.
The concept of a role model is one worth highlighting. There are certainly people you look up to in your world. You may also be aware of a successful person who has already pulled off whatever it is you are getting started on. Either way, you may have patterned some of your actions after a specific person. Supposing you still desire a success similar to theirs, seeking advice from them might be your next course of action.
“Forcing yourself to take on ‘good advice’ just because it has been labeled as such probably won’t get you very far,” said Sasha Ramani, Associate Director of Corporate Strategy at MPOWER Financing. “True good advice comes from the people who know us. One of my role models has become a mentor to me simply because I asked so I would start there.”
The worst they can do is say no
Speaking of asking questions, that is exactly what you should be doing of the successful people you want to get advice from. Whether it is the retired businessman who lives around the corner or the internet influencer with a large following, attempting to pick their brain about the road to success is wise. Unless you have had some prior interaction regarding the topic of advice, there is a solid chance they have no idea you are interested in their advice. To kick things off with them, ask if they have any interest in meeting to pass on their advice.
“The best advice I’ve come across never resembled off-hand comments or anything of the sort,” said Stephanie Venn-Watson, CEO of Fatty15. “They came from genuine conversation but that can’t happen unless both parties are intentional about getting together.
Going to someone you admire for any reason can leave you feeling a little uneasy. Part of this can be chalked up to the sheer amount of respect you have for this person. But a larger portion is likely due to fear of rejection. No one ever wants to be rejected. This is especially true when it comes to the more important items in life. Thankfully, the stakes are not as big as they seem.
“I’ve never heard of anyone getting in trouble for asking advice from their peers or superiors,” said Omid Semino, CEO and Founder of Diamond Mansion. “Actually, it can sometimes demonstrate a strong willingness to learn from the person asking. But remember, the worst that can happen is that the people being asked say no. In the long run, that’s nothing to sweat over.”
Go to where they are
You may have a successful person in mind who is not even close to being accessible. Those internet influencers mentioned earlier are an example of this. But so are professional athletes, world-class CEOs, movie stars, and many other types of people. How are you supposed to get advice from the people who have reached the utmost pinnacle of success? Inviting them out for a coffee simply won’t work. Instead, a little leg work is required.
“One of my most memorable pieces of advice came from a TED talk I attended in person,” said Rachel Roff, Founder and CEO of Urban Skin Rx. “There are not many people out there who I hold in high-esteem so to see one of them offer their thoughts on life really stuck with me.”
Seeing these people speak is one thing. But there are often opportunities for a much more tangible interaction with people who fall into this category. Conventions and other events like this continue to grow in popularity across the US. A quick Google search will show you that almost anything you can imagine has an event dedicated entirely to a singular topic, theme or idea. These are where the tangible interaction can take place.
“Being face-to-face with a person of great success only happens randomly if you’re extremely lucky,” said Chris Bridges, CEO of VITAL. “If you want to ask a specific question, consider going to one of their speaking engagements.”
Make it a symbiotic exchange
Approaching someone with the intention of asking for something can always feel a little awkward. Especially if it is someone you do not have a personal relationship with. Then, it might feel more comparable to begging. But you can easily flip this on its head by bringing something of your own to the table. The question is, is the other party interested? It might seem like successful people have it all figured out with virtually nothing standing in their way but this is hardly the case.
“Trust me,” said Cesar Cruz, Co-Founder of Sebastian Cruz Couture. “No one is perfect and even the most successful people could always use a great dose of advice. If you have something to share, don’t let it burn a hole in your pocket – what goes around comes around.”
Though there is a second item to consider in this regard, do you have something to offer? The trick here is to be acutely aware of your strengths and past accomplishments. In fact, above all, prioritize genuinity because people see right through any sort of fake success immediately.
“Fantastic advice comes from fantastic personal relationships,” said Karim Hachem, VP of eCommerce at Maxine of Hollywood. “And these come from nothing more than being yourself. You are a valuable person and people will see that.”
Working yourself up to a point where you are emotionally and mentally prepared to be honest about the advice you need is difficult. It requires openness on multiple levels. Musician Demi Lovato offered perspective here, “The best advice I can give to anyone going through a rough patch is to never be afraid to ask for help.”