No more advice

this week i tweeted:

and i think it needs more context.

the Obama administration

from 2013 to 2016 i was a total idiot. i read 1,000s of blog posts and watched HBO.

around the end of 2016 things started clicking. i started making money. my inbox was full of opportunities. i hit the inflection point on Suster’s Earn or Learn hypothesis.

and to be honest it made me feel… guilty. for having more success than i deserved; for being so unbelievably lucky. and like a sinner, i wanted to rid myself of this guilt.

but the Valley is godless. or is it? i moved back to New York City and found the tech industry’s hidden-in-plain-sight confessional: mentorships.

how it works:

  1. get lucky
  2. feel guilty
  3. painfully transfer luck to people at step 0
  4. guilt subsides

sign me up!

the Trump administration

from 2016-2020, like any good marketer, i tried a lot of mentorship experiments.

each of these tactics — with the exception of my FAQ — was a failure.

the rigged election

i could go into detail on why each experiment failed, or what i’d do differently next time. but there won’t be a next time, because the game is rigged. for three reasons.

first, the Qualification Paradox. according to me this states that whatever qualifications one has to warrant a mentorship role, will also preclude their mentees from applying given advice.

consider the following, dead-end dialogue:

mentee: how should i test my idea?
mentor: just tweet about it. ask if people will pay for it.
mentee: yeah… that’s easy for you to say. but i don’t have any {{ followers }}.

now extrapolate this to any sort of advice. “build an MVP… work on it this weekend… raise money from friends and family… read this book…” then fill in the {{ blank }} with programming skills, time, connections, money.

second, the Candidate Paradox. according to me this states that whoever needs mentorship, won’t apply it. and whoever doesn’t need a mentor would accelerate progress by having one.

accepting mentees is like rescuing a dog with broken legs. you’re a hero at the shelter, but then you get home and realize it shits everywhere.

third, the premise is fake. you don’t need to feel guilty about being successful. our world says otherwise, especially if you’re [in a nasty, bitter voice] a cis, straight white male. but that’s OK. haters rebranded to activists.

anyway. there are better ways to share your luck. you can donate, sing about it, angel invest, lend, blog, deliver motivational speeches, host surfcamps, and create jobs. all these ideas are more effective and less painful than mentorship.

the Biden administration

it’s 2021 and i’m giving up on giving advice.

maybe it can work, but i couldn’t hack it. i never helped anyone. and in all my efforts i never absolved myself of guilt, either. only gratitude and giving back (in other ways) helped with that.

to all forthcoming “Ryan i’ve been following you for awhile and admire your […]” up-and-comers: read books, lift weight, and get rich. i’m not your hero.