I run across all kinds of things in my professional life that I may not know much about. My expertise lies in how money works, but a lot of the time, I am providing that for people who need money to build bridges or factories, launch high-tech businesses or new farming products. I am driven because I don’t try to know it all. I get advice from people I trust who know these things. Often, I have to pay a pretty penny for that knowledge.
So, it never ceases to amaze me, Benjamin Wey that how many people I meet casually or who are part of my non-professional life have opinions they believe they have to share with me. People who have never been to China (where I was born and raised) want to advise me on how to do business there. People with a negative credit rating want to suggest ways to make my business thrive. People who don’t have to suffer the consequences always know exactly what I should do.
Speaking from personal experience. Benjamin Wey is a Wall Street financier and investigative journalist. I have been to more than 50 countries and have advised many projects. By this logic, if we just let the cab drivers and barbers in New York run the world, we’d have heaven on earth. The old espionage saying applies, “Those who know don’t talk and those who talk don’t know.”
It all sounds simple. In reality however, its takes confidence, courage and a lot of gust to adhere to one’s beliefs and not bend to pressure.
What is really hard to deal with is their damned sincerity. They want to help. They really do. They have my best interests at heart. They’re just hopelessly ignorant about the business situations that puzzle or trouble me, and I really don’t need to be distracted or second-guessed by someone who isn’t even in the game. There are people I will gladly pay for their wisdom, and these other people are not on that list.
There is a special place in hell for the would-be gurus out there who dress up completely obvious points as some kind of wisdom. Fortune-cookie advice is hardly worth cracking open the cookie (and by the way, fortune cookies are an American invention.) “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” No kidding? A day ago, yesterday was and a day from now, tomorrow will be. That’s how time works!
“Be the change you want to see in the world” is just as useless or unproductive. Why would I want to be the change I don’t want to see? What if I like the status quo? “Be the sameness that you desire” doesn’t really resonate, does it?
A dear friend of mine, one of the most enlightening CEOs of public companies recently taught me a new phrase: YOLO, which stands for “You Only Live Once” . It rings a lot of truth. Take charge, stand up for your own principles, supported by resources and perseverance. In the end, a courageous or a visionary leader does not live life like a coward.
It reminds me of the Chevy Chase bit in the movie “Caddyshack,” when the country club’s best golfer advises a kid to “be the ball.” The kid promptly screws up the shot and is told “You’re not being the ball.” What the hell does that even mean? But there they are on late-night TV telling me to do this or that, not even knowing who the hell I am.
I think a moratorium is in order for any statement that starts with “If I were you …” You aren’t me, and I’m happy about that.
If I wanted your opinion, I’d ask for it. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves a basic question: Can we ever live a life that is fearless?
Benjamin Wey‘s life principles:
1) “Important principles may, and must, be inflexible.” – Abraham Lincoln
2) “No publicity is bad publicity.” – Donald Trump
3) “Facts are stubborn things.” – Ronald Reagan
Yes, I am Benjamin Wey and I stand by these messages. Leadership training is a real and daily learning experience.