7 Pieces Of Advice That Changed My Life (And Can Change Yours)

Best Life Advice

What are the pieces of advice that have defined your life?

The world is full of advice for us. Just open up your web browser and you’ll see what I mean.

But how much of it really changes your life? Which pieces of advice have had a personal impact on you?

I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some outstanding people. Some of them were family. Some were co-workers. Some of them were authors/researchers I’ve been lucky enough to meet. And some were authors I’ve never met.

But all these people were mentors who have helped shape my life. And while every mentor has affected my life in some way, there are a few pieces of advice…

…a few gems, that have transformed the way I think.

Today, I want to share the seven core pieces of advice that have shaped my life over the last twenty years.

My hope is that you’ll take one or two pieces of this advice to heart. Maybe something here can have a monumental impact on your life (or even the life of your kids).

Hey, a guy can hope…right?

I’m not going to spend a lot of time trying to attribute these sayings to the right source. I’m sure I don’t know the true origin of most of this advice. But in some instances, I’ll identify how this advice entered my life.

Now, on with the advice…

Help Everybody Every Day

How can I not start with the single most impactful phrase in my life? This particular piece of brilliance came to me from Tim Klabunde over a decade ago.

It’s not simply who I want to be. I also believe it to be the most meaningful marketing advice I’ve ever received.

As marketers, it’s so easy to fall in love with what you are selling. Instead, we need to fall in love with our clients and the challenges they face.

We need to hold their success above our own. Everything we say, everything we do needs to be in service of others.

As a marketer, that sounds EXTREMELY counterintuitive. Marketers convince people to buy stuff they don’t want or don’t need, right?!?

Well, all the research I’ve read debunks that old stereotype. So, spend your time helping everybody.

The Only Person Who Can Hurt You Is You

This sounds counterintuitive. If a heavyweight boxer, or any boxer, met me in a dark alley…he or she could beat me to a pulp.

But to my Great Aunt Mary, “hurt” was something you felt internally. “Hurt” is your reaction to something. And the basis of hurt, what defines whether or not you get hurt, is how you perceive yourself.

For example, you might tell a Nobel-prize winning physicist that they are dumb. Whether or not they feel hurt is based on how they react to that statement internally. It’s not your statement that hurts them, it’s their reaction.

Why is this important from a business standpoint?

Controlling your reaction to criticism is a skill. Just like riding a bike, it’s something you can develop.

You can’t grow without feedback. And, in my experience, there is a direct correlation between the value of feedback and its blunt honesty.

Remember, the only person who can hurt you is you.

Everything Is Figureoutable

I’ve written about this in the past. But it’s a critical piece of advice.

People arbitrarily, and illogically, limit themselves and others. I’ve heard people say they can’t write about what an engineer does because they are not an engineer. That’s like saying my son can’t write a report on what the US President does because he’s not the President.

Everything is figureoutable.

Humans figure stuff out. That’s what we do. That’s our superpower. You have it within you, so use it.

A caveman figured out how to build a fire, not a fireman. A desk clerk figured out general relativity.

I can’t tell you how many times someone has told me, “You can’t figure that out.” There is no better feeling than making someone eat those words.

Always Be Testing

Better is a moving target. My third grader is a better reader now than he was in second grade. But if anyone allowed him to stop improving his reading skills, he’d be in for a tough life. He must get better at reading.

When you’re an adult, it’s easy to get stuck doing the same things day in and day out. We get comfortable in our jobs. We get satisfied with our performance. We accept our “limitations.”

Don’t fall into that trap. Always be testing.

Always testing is about constant improvement. Every action you take is an experiment to help you determine what works and what doesn’t.

Constantly try new things and test their effectiveness against your norm.

You’ll get many bad results. But the great results will become your new norm. As you keep doing this, your results (and your skills) will get better and better.

If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. So, always be testing.

The World Wants You To Be Vanilla

Society’s job is to make people conform to the norm. If nobody behaved within the societal norms, there would be chaos.

But that also presents a challenge.

Starting at a very young age, you are hit with tremendous pressure to not “stick out.” Especially when you’re young, the pressure to be just like everyone else is unavoidable.

And that pressure continues throughout your life. We just get so used to it, it becomes almost imperceptible.

You’ve got to fight an ever waging war against the pressure to be just like everybody else. Everywhere you turn, you’ll find people pressuring you to be vanilla.

And when you are trying to help your firm get noticed, that pressure is in direct opposition to what you want to do.

Don’t listen to people pushing you to be vanilla.

Don’t Worry About The Bugdust

I’m known for this phrase, but it was taught to me by one of my mentors, John Garrafa.

Bugdust is anything that doesn’t move the needle. If it doesn’t help or hurt your chances of succeeding, then it’s bugdust.

The flip side of this is focusing on “big wins.” Big wins move the needle. Spend your time in areas that have an impact.

In our world, it’s so easy to get stuck spending your time on bugdust. Some people will even pressure you to devote your time to bugdust.

But here’s the thing. They’ll never remember the bugdust. They’ll only remember the big wins.

If Information Was All We Needed, We’d All Be Millionaires With Six-Pack Abs

Information without execution is worthless.

I recently received this comment from the Senior Vice President at a large architecture firm:

“I’ve certainly been impressed with the impact your training has made on marketing efforts here at [FIRM].”

His staff acted on the information I provided. And I commend them for that.

But for every person that acts on my advice, there are ten people who do nothing with it.

Success is 10% information and 90% execution. Absorbing information is easy. Executing on that information is more difficult. It takes work.

If all we needed was information, I’d be a millionaire with six-pack abs. So would you.

You have to focus on executing. And it’s best to focus on one big win at a time.

What is that big win you know you can accomplish, but never got around to? Focus on executing the (steps, tasks, advice) that will make it a reality for you.

The Bottom Line

You can figure anything out. So focus on helping other people and the execution that will help you achieve big wins. And don’t be scared to let your unique personality shine through, because the only person who can hurt you is you.

Now It’s Your Turn

What advice has changed your life? Help others by sharing with us in the comments.


  1. Jana Brickey says

    This bit of wisdom came from my high school cross country coach, “Can’t never could do anything!” It has helped me eliminate the word can’t from my life in many instances.

  2. Jana Brickey says

    Can’t never could do anything!

  3. Jeanette Keylor says

    From my dad, “If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.” Also from my dad, “If you don’t listen, you gotta feel.” Think about it . . .

  4. What DO you want?

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