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One of the many unintended consequences of a free and open internet is the unbelievable amount of bad advice out there. When the litmus test for value boils down to clicks and streams, quantity (not quality) reigns supreme. This ecosystem encourages, even rewards, bad behavior. Personally, I loathe every “5 tips for ____” post or article that makes its way into my inbox or feed. More often than not, instead of providing practical wisdom or insight, these articles are unnecessarily disconcerting, provocative, or bombastic leaving the reader more afraid and confused than anything else. Or, they are so soft and fluffy that while the reader may enjoy thirty minutes of comfort or peace of mind, they rarely provide any discernible next steps.

For jobseekers trying to figure out which companies to apply to, which jobs to apply for, and how to write a compelling resume and cover letter there is no shortage of terrible advice available. A quick google search on resume writing will provide you with 10 bad articles and little that will actually help you secure a new opportunity.

Recently, I participated in a forum with other business owners offering “wisdom from the trenches” to a group of aspiring entrepreneurs. One of the questions posed to the panel was something to the effect of, “what should business leaders focus their attention on?” A string of cliches followed–“Protect your Margins,” “Prioritize the Customer Experience,” or one that almost made me spit out my water, “Listen to the Market…she speaks!” Cue the eye roll.

Just a few weekends ago on a father/son camping trip with a group of buddies, most of whom are running businesses, a similar topic came up. One of the guys in the group lamented that he can’t figure out where to focus his energy on the business. He had a long list of issues that needed to be addressed or overhauled, projects that needed to be completed or started, and people challenges coming out of his ears. Another had similar issues, from cash flow to HR, and was frustrated that a new platform they had implemented wasn’t producing the traction he had hoped.

My response to these guys and my answer to the question at the forum were largely the same.