Free Advice

March 30, 2018

 

Napoleon Hill says free advice is worth what it costs. Well Mr. Hill was no doubt a brilliant entrepreneuralist (my word) but he did not live in the modern ("modern": current. It seems modern still refers to between 1500 and 1815; somebody please explain that to me) era. Mr. Hill lived and died before the sharing economy became formal, such as it is today. In today's world, one might argue that free advice forms the economic base.

Last weekend I was headed home after a satisfying evening of doing what modern ("modern": March 16, 2018) Montreal women do: writing at a friend's house. It was the nicest Uber I've ever been in, and if you've ridden in Ubers you know there are some nice ones. I admit, I have no idea what kind of car it was, but it was spacious in a  classy way with a moonroof. Even more, guy was playing tasteful music. So I say, 

 

"How's the evening going?" Or something like that. 

 

That opened up the opportunity to get the scoop from my driver (let me call him Chris). The scoop: its been quiet in Montreal. Even the restaurants - he knows a few people who work in the restaurant industry - are saying it's SO DAMN QUIET. Nobody knows what the problem is, they've never seen anything like it before.

 

"Well, it's been really cold." I say, always looking to find reason, meaning. Whenever you have two Canadians ("Canadian": one who has spent the  winter in Canada), the conversation must inevitably turn to the weather. He reminded me that no, it hadn't been so cold this year. I hummed and hawed but then conceded that I'd been away for at least some of the real cold spell, in December, when hell basically froze over. But yeah, maybe it hasn't been so cold. I'm apt to think I conceded too much.

 

Anyway, either he or I skillfully put the soon-to-be-important conversation back on track. 

 

"I wonder if there's something happening with the economy..." I say. And then, dear readers, Chris schooled me a little bit. He says: "You must not have stocks."

 

"No," I reply. 

 

"Look at who's in charge south of us. Have you been reading the news, seeing what going on? The stock market is taking a dive."

 

I might be untrained in the school of stocks but there is one thing I remember from my securities class, even though health problems made me drop it after just a few classes. I never forgot the rule. Buy low, sell high.

 

"So isn't this the time I'm supposed to invest?"

 

Yeah, it is. Chris liked that attitude. He then proceeded to assess my investment personality, was I high risk tolerant or conservative? 

 

By the time I got home, I know what I need to do. Or so I think, but then I get to thinking. Who is Chris? What does he know? Where are his degrees? After all, Chris gave me free advice; can I trust it?

 

Maybe our time is fundamentally different from the days of old; maybe free advice is in fact worth something. My life basically operates on the crux of free advice; every morning my inbox is rammed packed with advice I never had to pay for on:

 

Lifehacking

Meditating

Dating

Skincaring

Booking

Living better,

Freer,

Healthier.

 

There's free news (read Bloom's post, Take the Paper,  if you haven't already). There's this blog. You might not consider this free advice but I do. Many a person has made a fortune on offering free advice in this modern era. It doesn't have to be good advice; however, if you can attach to a celebrity, it will be considered valuable advice. 

 

Maybe it's the millennial in me, but I don't see anything particularly wrong with free advice. Even though I sometimes think reason is doomed to sink into a pit of emotion-less, self-centred garbage, I still appreciate some things about where we're headed. Like advice I don't have to pay for. The sharing of intellect with a driver, or my hairdresser, or friend. The give and take of everyday, ordinary life in the city. The sharing economy might be the closest thing to classic economic theory one could get to. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.

 

But bad advice, that's another story. Even more so when it comes from apparently trustworthy sources: news pundits, CEOs, professors. Perhaps it has been the disillusionment in the classic stamps of authority that has lead us into this free wheeling predicament. At the bottom of any predicament is the same question: who do you believe in?

 

I'm willing to believe my Uber driver. With the greatest respect to Mr. Napoleon Hill, I did access his lecture for free, on YouTube. 

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