In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about “not your typical advice”.

Tweeter and Instagram are platforms that have made it so much easier for people to express their opinions and give advice about any topic. While this is a great thing for freedom of expression, it means that anybody, even if unqualified can give advice, and this dilutes the quality of advice that is out there.

In today’s episode, Steli and Hiten talk about how there’s a lot of startup advice out there in the world, how all advice is diluted to the point where it’s pretty much meaningless, how reading a book can be the best place to get the advice you need right now and much more. 

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic.

00:33 Why this topic was chosen.

00:47 How’s there’s a lot of startup advice out there in the world.

01:29 How we can get caught up in our ego on social media.

02:11 A typical scenario on Tweeter.

03:07 How Tweeter has made it easier for people to share their advice.

03:24 How all advice is diluted to the point where it’s pretty much meaningless.

04:01 Why you should take the best advice and leave the rest of it.

05:15 How reading a book can be the best place to get the advice you need right now.

05:50 How talking to people who have context and can actually help is a great way to get great advice.

3 Key Points:

  • There’s a lot of startup advice out there in the world.
  • We can get caught up in our ego on social media
  • Nobody is waiting for you to tweet.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah, and today on The Startup Chat we’re going to talk about not your typical startup advice. And this is a topic that I came up with about a minute ago, and it’s been in my mind a very long time. I would say that both Steli and I gave a bunch of startup advice, and this is not your typical startup advice. The reason this is not your typical startup advice or advice of any kind is because, what’s in my head is that there’s a lot of stuff out there. I could use a worse word, but there’s a lot of stuff out there where people are telling you things about what you should do or what you should not do. And there’s also a lot of stuff out there now, as of recently in the last month or so, about how it’s not good to work hard or it’s good to work hard. It’s good to work a lot of hours or not. Steli and I are not going to get into that debate. Because the answer is it depends, and that’s the best answer I can really give you. And then I’ve seen something really fascinating that I haven’t been able to talk about publicly and this is as public as I want to get with it. I’ve talked a lot about it privately, but it’s this idea that we are all susceptible to ego traps. And what that means is that we can get caught up in our ego on social media, and then we turn into these advice machines, so to speak, because we just get to either share a bunch of crap on Instagram, or share a whole bunch of whatever we want to share, whatever we’re feeling, whatever on Instagram. I’m sorry, on Twitter. And what I’ve noticed is that what… The pattern that happened. Somebody gets good at Twitter and gets good at Twitter, just means they tweet a bunch of stuff and it gets… People like it, people retweet it. Maybe they get thousands of the retweets on it. Maybe tens of thousands of likes, whatever, on the highest level. And they might be somebody who many people look up to. Then what I notice, after that happens, it’s almost like they have their day on Twitter, right? And then it’s almost like their ego gets involved. They’re like, now I’ve got to tweet. And then you start seeing them tweeting things and you’re like, “Oh. That thing you tweeted that went off was great. You could have just stopped there. You didn’t need to go tweet about the equivalent of how you’re feeling right now. You didn’t need to do that. Like, it’s okay. Nobody’s waiting for you to tweet. It’s really okay.” And it’s almost like this thing where we went from, okay, a few people, expertise or experience or even just whether it’s very experienced or not very experienced, but having gone through stuff and people sharing that, whether it’s in blog posts or whatever mediums make sense on medium. But now we have this thing where it’s like so many people can go share their advice. And they do. And I believe they do because they just want more of those thousand likes. Or those thousand retweets, and that attention it gets and all the replies it gets, and I almost feel like it’s subconscious. And people are not conscious to that. So the result of that, to me, is that all advice is diluted to the point where it’s pretty much meaningful. I mean meaningless. Because it just doesn’t matter. There’s so much of it. So many people saying so many things. And the line that I like to use on this is like, take the best, leave the rest. But at the same time, if you’re looking around on Twitter and lurking around, or you’re on Instagram following a bunch of people and seeing all their crap, I think you’re not working. I think you’re not actually focused on what matters to you. Because if you were, you’d…


Steli Efti: You think?


Hiten Shah: Yeah. Because if you were, you’d probably be reading a book. Straight up. Right, a book about what you need right now that’s going to help you. Right? Like I’m reading books right now that are going to help me. I’m not the insane three bucks a day reader. I can be, because I can read really fast and I like reading. I’m the, let me find the book even if I read it before, that’s going to help me right now. Whether it’s personally or in business. And I’ll read it, and I’ll take notes on it. And I might even take notes and share it with people on my team, because there’s shit we want to do, and the books actually are helpful because it’s a much more thoughtful thing than a tweet. So the rant here is like, “Yo. You want some advice? Go read a book. Just make sure it’s advice you need right now.”


Steli Efti: All right. I’ve got a lot to say here, but…


Hiten Shah: Bring it.


Steli Efti: So, number one. I like the advice, go read a book. I would add, or go talk to somebody-


Hiten Shah: I like that.


Steli Efti: -That can help, has context and does care, right?


Hiten Shah: Yep.


Steli Efti: The thing that you mentioned, like one thing that popped up in my mind when you were talking about this people start sharing their advice and their opinions on social media. They get a lot of positive reinforcement and endorphin rushes by getting lots of likes, lots of shares. There’s a certain type of thing that you say the more controversial it is, what you’re saying, or the shorter it is sometimes, the less nouns you use the stronger the response usually, right? If you write, the best advice I could give is it depends because everybody’s situation is the same. That might be a thoughtful thing to say, but nobody’s going to retweet that. Nobody is going to hate it or comment on it or… There’s really not going to be a strong response to something that’s moderate. So you start sharing advice, sharing your opinions, and then there is a training that happens, a positive reinforcement to your most radical ideas, almost radical moments. They get the most attention, the most response, the most love, which then trains you to do more of it. And often times I see people start tweeting and then at some point Twitter is tweeting them, right? It’s like the medium is taking over in this-


Hiten Shah: Yeah.


Steli Efti: -using you, you’re not using it anymore. Right. And you can tell by… Or I think I can tell by certain patterns. Is this person increasing their output? Right. So I would see they would tweet once or twice a day and then it became four a day, then eight and it’s like 40 a day and it gets more and more and more. Question is why? Does it seem healthy for somebody to spend so much time and an increased amount of time on this medium, sharing their advice, tweeting things? How engaged do they get with responses, and what kind of engagement do they give? Do they give into engagement when they are criticized? And if so, is it because they’re curious, they want to learn? Or is it because they’re defending themselves and they’re getting angry? Or do they get engaged in ways that helps their ego? What is… If you step back far enough, you’re trying to ask yourself, what is this person trying to get out of this? Why are they spending all this time creating all this content? What are they trying to get to? And there are people that seem to, I think honestly and authentically having moments where they feel like they’ve learned something and then want to pass it on and share it. And they seem to engage at times and disengage at others, and seems a healthy… I like playing around here, I like sharing my ideas here, but this isn’t my life and there’s not any addictive quality that jumps out of me when I see how they behave on these platforms. And then there are the people that do seem more addicted, and this seems very much to be an egotistic, egocentric game. Not even that they play, but the platform. The platform is taking over [inaudible] them, and now the platform is using them more and more, to create more and more of the type of content that the platform likes. And so there’s a lot of that. And a lot of that that’s going on. And then the question is really, who is learning anything here useful, and why? This is honestly something that I even struggle with sometimes. I’m not that great on social media, but sometimes when I see big debates erupt like they did in the recent past, and I see all these people tweeting about a certain thread and had me going back and forth and all that, it’s just… There’s a part of me that’s like, “Should I say something here?” And then there’s another part of me that’s like, “But I don’t want to, because I honestly actually don’t care about this debate. And I don’t know if I say something who is look…” Like, I’m not learning anything. Literally all these super smart people are polluting my Twitter timeline with things that I’m not interested in. And even when I try to read them, I’m not learning anything here. There’s nothing insightful here. There’s nothing nuanced here. So I’m like, this is all pollution. If I jump in, I’m just adding to the pollution because I really don’t care about this topic. But I know if I do, I’m going to get a lot of attention. I know purely from a marketing play. If I say something controversial about this, I’m going to get a lot of response. Certain people will look at my tweet, that are important or have a lot of following. They might respond positively or negatively, that might get me a few more followers. But am like, am I really interested in this? Do I really need this quote/unquote cheap attention right now? And if so, why? What will I do with it? If I tweet something controversial and I get another hundred followers and I get whatever, a few hundred retweets or something, and then, what? Would will I do with this? Other than, that I will spend the next day or two logging into Twitter 10 times more than usual, to see who responded or retweeted, but-


Hiten Shah: It’s the ego trap.


Steli Efti: It’s an ego trap, yeah. So I just decide to go, this is all bullshit and I will just look at Twitter in four days again, when this is over, because right now it’s just a lot of noise, but there’s nothing really meaningfully useful to learn here or read here. And this is something that honestly I find, not to be a Debbie Downer on all of this, but I find less and less… I find me as a consumer of social media, I find less and less useful stuff. I almost don’t use Facebook at all anymore. I use Twitter, but I have found it in the last two, three months, less and less useful or interesting in terms of-


Hiten Shah: I think it’s gotten weird or worse. I don’t know what’s happening to it.


Steli Efti: Twitter definitely has gotten worse. There was a time, and I was very proud of how curated my Twitter stream was, and how I was following just a specific type of people, and I had interesting news and interesting book recommendations and interesting thoughts and quotes and good shit in there. But recently I definitely have found myself saying at the end of my two minute Twitter sprees, this was not satisfying at all. This was not… I spent three, four minutes looking at all of this, but nothing of it was really that meaningful or interesting to me. Instagram the same way. The most useful thing about Instagram for me is I follow a bunch of Thai fighters and a bunch of martial art fighters. I’ll watch their fights or their little videos and that’s cool. And then I have a handful of friends who use it a lot and I’m interested in their lives, so that’s cool. But everything else is like, whatever. YouTube is really the only… It’s not even a social network really in a typical sense, but that still has meaningfully interesting content for me. So I can spend time on YouTube and find it satisfying in terms of… I watched a lecture or a video, an interview that I thought was really powerful or interesting. Or entertaining at least but, yeah. The amount of advice people give, especially on Twitter and Instagram, and the amount of it that is just empty air. It’s just nothing. It’s so short, so over generalized or poor that it’s like, I don’t know who’s learning something here. Who is reading this and is thinking, “Wow, this is amazing. This idea of thought is helping me now do better at life or do better with my work?” I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’m not sure. At times I’m not sure if I’m just getting super hyper cynical, or if the information out there is just less interesting. And maybe because these mediums, maybe we can… Because we can overshare in these overly shortened versions of our thoughts and advices. Maybe just these mediums lend themselves to advice as something useful, and a book… The reason why that can be really powerful or a conversation with somebody, is because there is… It’s a longer form and by design it usually leads to more thoughtfulness. And more clarity and more completeness and more nuance, than a one sentence tweet can do. Or a ten second Instagram video can do. How much can you say in 20 seconds? What kind of… How much useful advice can you pack into 20 seconds, that you want to send out to tens of thousands of people at the same time? Oh, like all these 50,000 people need to hear these 20 seconds right now. It’s really going to impact them. Not that it can never… Not that a sentence can never inspire a thought, or be positive or make people smile or laugh. You can be brief and still be useful. But when it comes to the… When you take out and entertainment, and when you take out… Just like a mild stimulant. When you really go into the realm of giving advice and receiving advice for how to run your business, or how to lead a good life, for how to structure your day, for how to succeed with your company, I do find that we have to retweet to all the formats of learning and advice, which usually are more long form, more nuanced, more context aware forms of learning and consumption than a lot of stuff that’s out there.


Hiten Shah: Yep.


Steli Efti: All right.


Hiten Shah: That’s it.


Steli Efti: That’s it.


Hiten Shah: That’s our rant on advice today.


Steli Efti: We will kickstart the new year as being grumpy, cynical… Two grumpy, cynical founders. There you go.


Hiten Shah: There you go.


Steli Efti: That’s what you get from us. All right. We’ll hear everybody very, very soon. That’s it from us.


Hiten Shah: See ya.