Sunday, June 1, 2014

Good advice from bad people

Driving home this morning I was listening to an interview with Zac Bissonette, author of Good Advice from Bad People: Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong. He gathered 75 examples of high profile people writing books of advice on how to live, but falling way short of what they advocate; among them Lehman Brothers CEO,  Richard Fuld who said that 'When you know what you are talking about others will follow, because it is safe to follow you', gay-prostitute-patronizing pastor Ted Haggard telling readers how to build a marriage that lasts a lifetime, O. J. Simpson telling you that 'The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuse, that is the day you start to the top'.  Clearly such people are not good role models, yet they keep bobbing up, dishing out advice even after being disgraced. Why do people pay money for such advice, buy the books or go to lectures? Jordan Belfort, disgraced stock broker, the subject of the film Wolf of Wall Street is touring New Zealand and Australia dispensing his advice on the essence of entrepreneurship. Who would want to take him seriously and listen to him? Perhaps people buy these books, listen to Belfort, and this doesn't come cheap, because at a certain level these failed gurus articulate notions people believe in and know already. These pieces of superficial advice confirm that those in the audience, those reading the books, know already the teachings of these smart celebrities, and they themselves are just  as smart, and will do as well or better if they keep their noses clean.