Through an unusual sequence of events, I ended up investing in a small company alongside a famous financier. It’s kinda cool, since it makes me sound like I must know something about investing, but let’s just say it’s more serendipity than strategy.
Of course, if you want to think I’m an investment genius, that’s okay, too.
Anyway, I was comparing notes on the situation with a friend who's plugged into a lot of business deals, and he expressed some views about how to work with, or around, the big dog in this deal. I took his words to heart, considered how I might respond to various actions, and then I had a flash of insight.
My friend doesn’t know this other guy and he hasn’t worked with him on any deals. He was making some assumptions about the way a wealthy investor would act in various situations, but my friend really doesn’t know one way or another. He could be right, or not, but there’s no reason for me to accept his ideas with any sense of certainty.
But that wasn’t the real flash of insight.
The real lightning bolt was that I was now accepting one of those conspiracy theories that I rail against all the time. I was taking his opinion as fact and incorporating that “fact” into my plans. I’m on guard against this all the time, pointing out the failure of skepticism that turns my friends into chumps, and it took all of ten seconds for me to take the bait from a friend who has solid credentials…but no specific knowledge.
See how easy that was? A person with some standing in the world, maybe a doctor or a public official or a celebrity, presents a statement that’s really just an opinion and we add it to our arsenal of 100% true facts for future discussions.
The reason it slips by us so easily is that we’ve been learning this way all our lives. Mom said something when we were six and we’ve never questioned it since then. We watched a "based-on-a-true-story" movie five years ago and we believe we know all the details. Intellectually, we recognize that we don’t know which parts of the movie were fact and which were fiction, but we have nothing in our brains to refute any of the facts(!?) presented on the screen. Almost everything we think we know about the outside world comes at us this way.
As is often the case in situations like this, my friend’s predictions have not come to pass. He made a general observation that seemed more credible to me because there was a specific name attached, but that didn’t make his observation any more valuable than a general statement from my dry cleaner.
If my dry cleaner had said it, though, I would have discounted the view immediately as coming from someone who isn’t in that particular business. Because my friend is in a related field and knows many investors, I gave him more credence, which was more credence than appropriate.
Lesson learned, again.
The next time I buy into an urban myth, or a rural myth for that matter, our subscribers will be the first to share in my embarrassment. Doesn’t that make it worthwhile to click here and subscribe to Dad Writes?
Who writes this stuff?
Dadwrites oozes from the warped mind of Michael Rosenbaum, an award-winning author who spends most of his time these days as a start-up business mentor, book coach, photographer and, mostly, a grandfather. All views are his alone, largely due to the fact that he can’t find anyone who agrees with him.