Suppose you’re:

– trying to convince someone about something

– marketing/selling something

– or giving advice

And they’re just not doing what you want them to do. Sometimes you complain, “It’s THEIR fault. Why won’t they do want I want them to do?” But then you remember that you usually can’t control their behavior, so even if it is “their” fault, it does YOU no good to sit there and complain about how “they won’t buy, they won’t change their mind, they won’t take my advice.”

by Matt Smith

Instead, ask yourself what you can do to change your strategy, change your marketing, or change your product so that they will buy or be convinced. Because, in the end, you can only control your own actions.

A choice quotation from Seth Godin: “The key takeaway isn’t that the lobbying doesn’t work (though it usually doesn’t). The problem is that the lobbying takes your attention away from the changes you can actually control and implement.”


At age 25, with 2 bachelor’s degrees in hand, I’m going back to school to complete pre-med prerequisites.

The medical profession has tons of smart people, and best practices are already well-explored. But I was a teacher, and I think there are some good ideas there that can cross over to the medical profession. Let’s go through some stuff that I currently think about being a good doctor, due to my teaching experience.

by James Sarmiento

Teachers do the following:

1. They lecture to, engage, guide, control*, and summarize to the class.

2. They constantly adjust to the level of their students.

3. They ignore and forgive useless questions.

4. They concentrate on useful questions.

5. They gently remind a student that his or her question was off-track.

6. They remain positive.


So how does a doctor relate to each one of those points about teachers?

1. Four years of school. At least four years of residency. A doctor knows a hell of a lot. So you’re the expert in the room, despite the patient’s newfound wealth of knowledge from (OK, I do this all the time as a patient—of course I want to try to figure it out myself, but I also recognize the doctor as the authority). As the doctor, you ask the right questions, ignore tangential and useless information, sift through the information you’re given for the most important info, and even engage the friends and family that the patient brought with—maybe they’ll say something that the patient never would, because they have a different perspective.

2. Assume the patient knows nothing, but sense and test the energy in the room. If they already know, adjust. No need to talk down to them.

3, 4, and 5. Guide their questions. Don’t get off track with questions that they don’t even realize are off track. You’re like a teacher, and YOU are showing to the student what is most important right now.

6. Stay positive, but realistic. The patient doesn’t care that you’ve seen 17 other patients today. This is their first interaction with you, and they aren’t paying (i.e. haven’t been paying insurance all year) to face off with a negative person. On the other hand, be realistic about their condition and the necessary treatments. That the info they came for, after all.


Here’s an interesting article that looks at this from a business/idea-pitching perspective.


*Some argue the teacher should never control. I disagree. 70% control sometimes, 15% control other times, and 100% even at times. They didn’t choose you to teach the class because you’re a know-nothing chump. Guide the class. Gently tell them when they got something wrong. Teach ’em something they didn’t know. Direct them to discoveries they never could have made on their own.

You spend hours refining your resume. You get a nice suit. You read up on the company. You do an informational interview with a current employee. You arrive early. You interview great.

And then they don’t hire you. What gives? Couldn’t they tell how much work you poured into it, how badly you wanted the job?

“If I were in their shoes, I would have hired me,” you think. “Look how much work I put into it!” But assuming there were other good candidates, the truth is that you probably wouldn’t have. You’re just having trouble simulating their mindset.

Let’s think of it the other way around.

You have a nice suit jacket, but it needs to be dry-cleaned. Where do you go? Probably to the most convenient place, maybe to the faster dry-cleaners a little further away.

This kid is actually cooler than I was. But he's wearing a suit jacket, and that's what we're talking about. (by drp)

But didn’t you know that the owner of the dry-cleaner on 3rd St has worked so hard, just opened her store last month, and really needs your support? She renovated the store herself, painted the walls, replaced the sign, bought new machines, posted flyers around the neighborhood, and spent good money to advertise in the paper. Now that you know all of that, you might feel for her, but you’re still going to do what works best for you. In other words, you wish her the best, but you don’t care about her.

I say all this not to be negative, but rather to point out how much work you need to put in. Don’t underestimate how much effort it takes to be noticed. Don’t get too upset if you’re not, and just keep moving forward.

by laughlin

Advice and ideas are cheap. Implementation and execution are key. It’s easy to dismiss advice by saying, “That’s common sense. It’s too obvious.” But are you putting it into practice?

Here’s an example. It’s easy to say, “When you get home after a long day of classes, get right to studying.” Everyone knows that. But the trick is to break down barriers in front of studying (have paper and pens on hand, get the books you need out of your bag, study in a room separate from the TV) and set up barriers in front of distractions (go straight to the library rather than going straight home, hide the TV remote control, turn off your computer’s wireless card). Those are tricks that can work, and that’s where the magic is.

When you hear advice and you think it’s not specifically relevant to your own situation, do you react violently? Do you pull a Hulk and yell, “THERE’S NO WAY THIS ADVICE APPLIES TO ME,” and then you stomp off? Well, good luck finding someone who will spoon-feed you the exact advice you need.

by owenbooth

A good principle instead is to ask yourself, “What CAN I glean from this advice? How can I sift through it and apply it to my life?”

Even U.S. presidents don’t need to agree with someone 100% to get something done: “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor.”