- “Shark Tank”/ABC
It’s easy to ignore bad advice.
Truly awful advice, though, often sticks with you, as a reminder of what matters most to your personal and professional fulfillment.
By definition, entrepreneurs have to take risks and think differently, so conventional – though terrible – advice can be used as a motivational tool.
Business Insider has collected the worst advice successful entrepreneurs like Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, and Sallie Krawcheck ever received.
Here’s what it taught them.
Ellevate cofounder and CEO Sallie Krawcheck was told she shouldn’t dedicate her business to a ‘niche’ market.
- Noam Galai/Getty Images
Krawcheck’s role as Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s CEO was eliminated as part of restructuring under Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan in 2011, and instead of remaining on Wall Street, Krawcheck decided to go out on her own.
Her most recent venture is Ellevest, a digital investing platform tailored specifically to women. Her research showed her that not only do women as a whole invest differently from men, but her years as one of the most senior women on Wall Street gave her a platform to empower women in a hugely underrepresented industry.
She wrote on her blog that despite this, someone told her, “Don’t start Ellevest. You don’t want to limit your business to a niche market.”
That people would consider financially independent women a “niche” only made Krawcheck’s passion for the subject and her purpose stronger.
Nearly everyone tried to convince New York real-estate agent Ryan Serhant not to join ‘Million Dollar Listing.’
- Slaven Vlasic/Getty
Ryan Serhant was a rising star in the New York City real-estate industry when he got an offer to be a founding member of Bravo reality series “Million Dollar Listing New York” in 2010.
He told Business Insider that nearly everyone – friends, family, and colleagues – told him he would embarrass himself on the show, which was probably destined for failure anyways. This turned out to be the worst advice of his entire career, he said.
His boss, Nest Seekers InternationalCEO Eddie Shapiro, was the only person who told him to accept the offer. Not only did the show go onto introduce him to millions of viewers, but his career is also stronger than ever before.
As an associate broker of Nest Seekers International, he’s essentially the CEO of his own independent team, and today The Serhant Team is the No. 6 real-estate team by sales volume in the United States in 2016, according to REAL Trends.
‘Shark Tank’ star and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is firmly against the idea of following your passion.
- REUTERS/Mike Blake
Cuban has said repeatedly that the worst advice he’s ever received or heard others receive is “Follow your passion.”
“What a bunch of BS,” he wrote in a blog post from 2012. Everyone has multiple passions, Cuban said, but those don’t lead to career success. What does, however, is finding something to work hard at.
By “following your effort” instead of your passion, you can develop a skill and learn to appreciate it, Cuban wrote.
“Time is the most valuable asset you don’t own,” Cuban wrote. “You may or may not realize it yet, but how you use or don’t use your time is going to be the best indication of where your future is going to take you.”
‘Shark Tank’ star Barbara Corcoran was told she could never succeed on her own.
- Courtesy of Zebit
Corcoran started the Corcoran Group real-estate firm in 1973 with her boyfriend, Ramone Simone. In the early ’80s, Corcoran told Business Insider, their relationship turned sour and she decided to split the business, retaining her half as the Corcoran Group. Simone was not happy that Corcoran would retain as much as she did.
“On the way out the door he said, ‘You’ll never succeed without me,'” she said. Those words were both the worst and, strangely, the best thing he could have said.
“[T]hat was the ‘advice’ that got me through the thick and thin, mostly because it slammed me in my gut, and I didn’t want to let him have the satisfaction of seeing me go down,” she said. “That’s what I always leaned on when things were bad. I’d be like, ‘Damn, I’m not gonna let him see me [like this].'”
‘4-Hour Workweek’ author and podcast host Tim Ferriss learned a valuable lesson after his guidance counselor told him to not apply to his dream school.
- Michael Buckner/Getty
When bestselling author and popular podcaster Ferriss was a high-school senior, his guidance counselor told him he shouldn’t bother applying to Princeton. The counselor was judged on the acceptance rate of his students, and every denial counted against him.
Fortunately, another member of the faculty, Reverend Richard Greenleaf, told Ferriss he had to apply. Ferriss was accepted and would go on to graduate Princeton in 2000.
Looking back on that, Ferriss told Business Insider, he realized two things about advice: 1. Understand other people’s incentives when they give you advice. 2. Consider the downside of taking the advice versus not taking it.
Bestselling author and career expert Ramit Sethi hates how most people teach networking.
- business insider
Sethi is the founder of the personal-finance and career-advice site “I Will Teach You to be Rich” and is the author of the 2009 book of the same name.
He once came across the advice that, “If you are hunting for a job, you need business cards in your pocket at all times,” so that you can always hand one out to a potential job lead, he wrote on his blog. This is not how you network.
“Yes!” he wrote. “If you’ve been looking for your Dream Job, the first thing you need is NOT a strong network, or a process to identify your targets, or a way to narrow down the infinite universe of job options available to you. No, you don’t need to understand your psychological barriers, or the interviewing game, or how to master negotiation.”
Boston Beer Company cofounder and chairman Jim Koch’s father tried to convince him that the big guys would crush him.
- Isaac Brekken/Getty Images
Over the last 30 years, Boston Beer Company’s Samuel Adams brand has grown so popular that it now accounts for a full 1% of all beer sold in the US – that number is high, considering that the big global brands like Anheuser-Busch InBev account for nearly 90% of the country’s beer.
Boston Beer Company founder Jim Koch built a billion-dollar company and became a billionaire himself despite his father’s well-intentioned advice that it was a terrible idea to get into an industry that was virtually 100% controlled by giant companies.
“And I said, look, I am not trying to compete with those guys,” Koch told Business Insider. “I am trying to make something better. Richer, more flavorful, higher quality, and I’m gonna charge twice the money.”
Getting into a crowded market can doom your business, but Koch knew that the big guys were missing an entire kind of consumer, people who appreciate good beer as much as wine drinkers appreciate good wine, and decided to focus all of his efforts on that demographic.
Harry’s cofounder and co-CEO Jeff Raider was advised to stick to a traditional career path.
Jeff Raider has been fortunate enough to be cofounder of two exceptional startups over the last several years: eyeglass company Warby Parker and men’s razor-subscription service Harry’s. But when he was still an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins pursuing his bachelors in international affairs, he was preparing to take a much more traditional career path.
“At the time, a bunch of my professors were pushing me to go into diplomacy,” he told Business Insider. After considering a traditional career path for a successful student in his position, he realized by the time he graduated that he did not want to contribute to the world that way.
“I want to work in a space where there are fewer constraints, where I can constantly push the envelope, innovate, and dream,” he said.
Birchbox cofounder Hayley Barna was advised to fundamentally change her company.
- Brian Ach/Getty
When she and Birchbox CEO Katia Beauchamp started the company in 2010, they were advised to change their company from a monthly-subscription service offering a box of assorted beauty products to a service that sent one item weekly, sans signature box.
Not only would that idea not scale, she explained, but it was also one of several examples of an adviser trying to become so involved that the company was no longer the founders’ vision.