In the early 2000s British reality TV comedy show Trigger Happy TV had a brilliant sketch called “Don’t Trust This Man”. In it, you see Dom Joly stand in front of a giant poster with his face and the words “don’t trust this man” on it, talking to strangers asking them for favors. It’s hilarious in its peculiar weirdness.
The other day I had the wonderful opportunity to hear and interview two marketing powerhouses, each with decades of experience, tons of successes under their belts and massive followings. They essentially gave diametrically opposed pieces of advice. One said that attention is everything, and you have to invest into the largest social media following possible. The other said that it is all about a tiny number of highly engaged followers and isn’t even on social media himself. One was in the scale and grow camp, the other on the “build what matters” side. One was touting NFTs as the biggest thing since the Internet, the other called them out as BS. You couldn’t have asked for a starker contrast.
Which brings me to my point, actually a meta point: Don’t trust this man.
Too often I see people blindly copying what others, accomplished (or seemingly accomplished) people tell them. They listen to the proverbial sage-on-stage, watch YouTube videos of influencers, dissect the Tweetstorms of thought leaders, read the newsletter or listen to the podcast of people like… well, me, I guess. Please, please, please — don’t trust either of them. Which, of course, includes me.
As every decent programmer will tell you — always filter and sanitize your input variables. Do the same with information: Filter and sanitize it, take the essence out of it, don’t trust it but rather consider it merely “input” and make up your own mind. Learn from others, no doubt, and chart your own path.