I had the pleasure of sitting in a Norm Brodsky presentation several months back when he hit me with this golden nugget: “It’s advice for a reason—it’s your choice whether you use it. Pay for it if you like—it’s still just advice.”

Until recently, I didn’t know how much that little statement influenced my thinking, but it has. When I’m getting opinions now I think about things a little bit differently. Everything runs through what I call the “BSA filter,” which is my acronym for “Advice Filter.”

We get advice everywhere, all the time. I read stuff on the interwebs; I get advice from friends, peers, and mentors; and I get plenty of unsolicited suggestions from my nosy neighbor. It comes in all shapes and sizes.

I’ve even paid quite a bit of money for advice, both good and bad. Sometimes advice is subtle—”have you tried” or “what worked for me”—while other times it comes as an attack: “change or perish.” The granddaddy of them all is “I’ve seen it all so I’m going to share with you.” Do me a favor: if I ever get that ridiculous, just put me out to pasture.

Ok, enough about where advice comes from. Here are some simple steps I use to measure advice. These help me determine if it’s worth the air it crosses to reach my ears!

  1. Source Value – Who is this person? Are they a random pontificator or do they have cred? Do you have personal trust or have they been personally recommended by a trusted source? Is it Mark Cuban or my nosy neighbor?
  2. Sought or Offered – If you’re seeking or even paying for advice, you’re a little more apt to accept it. Be careful, though; paying for advice can be just as bad as getting it from your buddy after he’s had a few too many drinks.
  3. Corroborated or Opinionated – After you’ve verified the source, check other sources, to find out if the advice you received is killer or cuckoo. Does it make sense? Is there any data to back it up? What do other people think?

A word of caution and then a quick side note and I’ll set you free to enjoy the rest of your day.

First of all, use caution. The internet is where you can get the best and worst advice—both free and paid—so check, double check, 2-super checks (ode to Timotheus) the source and the information to make sure it passes the smell test.

And finally, one quick side note: never be afraid to listen! You can’t learn with your mouth open! Good advice can and will come from the unlikeliest of sources, so be ready to listen and learn at all times. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Even my nosy neighbor offers decent advice once in a while…it just has to make it through the filter.

If you want to learn more about ways in which people can excel as leaders, check out Steve’s previous articles on LinkedIn. If you have any questions, start a conversation with us! We’re always happy to chat.

Also published on Medium.