Things They Have No Right to Tell You


Most of my important relationships have failed, but here’s what you should do about yours.

I’ve never written a book, but here’s a list of everything that’s wrong with yours.

My business never got off the ground, but here’s how you should run yours.

My blog has five readers, but here’s some free advice on how to attract attention.

I have almost no experience in doing anything that matters, but you should hire me to manage your social media campaign.

Picasso didn’t know how to draw, and Van Gogh was a fraud. I know this because I took an art history class in college.

I traveled to Mexico once; let me tell you all about the world.

My unfinished novel is brilliant, but the editors in traditional publishing don’t recognize quality.

People just can’t acknowledge my talent. Nobody understands my genius. It’s all a scam.

Here’s my subjective experience, which I will now objectify for you as universal truth. My definition of success is the only one that matters, even though it has shifted over time in accordance with my unique journey through life.

I have no space in my brain to accommodate the fact that your experience might be completely different than mine.



Image: H4

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  • Tom Ewer says:

    “I know nothing of what it is you are trying to do, but you will fail.”

  • Itai says:

    I can tell I’ve heard at last half of them this month! I see you’ve met the same social media consultant too 🙂

  • Ellen-Mary says:

    I’ve heard many times over the years, the advice: “Consider the source.” You make the point very clear.

  • Judah Johns says:

    So true. I was just reading about a lady that won an award for her work in the field of online dating… yet, not only is she single, but she doesn’t want a partner: why would anyone listen to her?

  • Angelene says:

    “I don’t know you from Adam but you’re just not my type.”

  • A Little Coffee says:

    I would like to send this to my mother, in bold and possibly neon, but I’m not enough of a douchebag to do it. If only she’d find it all by herself…

  • Nicola says:

    Recommendations available upon request.

  • Maia Duerr / The Liberated Life Project says:

    I’ve never ventured out of my own comfort zone, but I think you oughta be taking a lot more risks in your life…

  • Baker Lawley says:

    A few recent favorites:

    “Brrr… It’s cold in Minneapolis today. Global warming is fake.”

    Or, the worst argument ever against creative thinking: “That’s just not the way it’s supposed to be done.”

    And, generally, anything that follows after “You know what you should do?” is probably a bad idea for me, but might be a good idea for whoever is talking.

    Thanks, Chris.

  • Mongezi says:

    I’ve worked at a bank my whole life, but here’s why your business idea will fail.

  • Jane Doull says:

    And yet how easily one can get hooked by this stuff, if it is said with enough intensity and conviction!

  • Amit Sonawane says:

    “I have never dared to break away from the norms, let me tell you how to succeed”

  • Leslie Strom says:

    “I’m a greedy douchebag and my passion is to help you succeed.”

  • Leah says:

    I know nothing about emotional abuse but I would have left him in a heart beat.

  • Jenni Bennett says:

    “I don’t think there’s a market for that” – From someone who has never sought a market for anything.

  • Candice says:

    “I’ve never attempted to be an artist, but if you do, you’ll starve.”

  • Caroline says:

    My personal favourite: “you spend so much time trying to better yourself that you’re obviously not happy with who you are.”

    Great post Chris!

  • Rudy Vaughn says:

    Great post – a reminder to me to remain open, be humble, accept alternatives. Thanks for the cerebral cup of coffee this morning, Chris.

  • TrishaTrixie says:

    I have never taken a leap in anything, nor tried a thing in my life but I know you shouldn’t try because you will just fail anyway

  • Austin Bishop says:

    “All kids are the same. Let me tell you how you should raise your kids.”

  • Karen says:

    Succinct, yet full of wisdom. Plus it made me laugh. Thank you.

  • Danielle says:

    I work in marketing and can’t tell you how many people think they are somehow more qualified to do my job simply because they have been on the receiving end of marketing campaigns. Ridiculous!!

  • Jenni Prokopy says:

    “your pain is all in your head.”

    “what you’re talking about doing is really different from what you’ve been doing before, so i think you should stop right there and think about whether this is really right for you. i mean, this is change! change is scary! change is wrong! i don’t know if you can handle change! i can’t handle change, so how can you?”

    “you’re weird.”

    “no one has done what you’re doing, so obviously no one wants it. don’t put all your eggs in this basket.”

    “always be prepared to fail.”

  • Cindy L says:

    Here’s one for your list: “If you’re following your bliss(writing, painting, etc.), you should be willing to do it for free.” Which is partly true, actually, but perpetuates starving artist syndrome!

  • Chris Tyle says:

    “You’ll never make a living playing music.” (This spoken by various people, at various times, over the span of a 36 year professional music career.)

  • Idara says:

    “My marriage was hell on earth but why aren’t you married yet?”

  • colleen setchell says:

    Sigh, this is just so true. Why can’t people just be encouraging and supportive.
    My Mum added: You can’t just go off and do something crazy like that, you should live a normal life!!
    What about your pension?
    What will I do if I can’t contact you?
    If it’s so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it?

  • Michael Glowacki says:

    I have ten people reading my blog. Does that mean I can charge for advice?

  • Grace says:

    This is great! This makes the email subscription worth it – I appreciate the boost in the middle of the day.

    A few officious people have criticized me and given me trouble for not wanting to self-publish the book I just wrote, because “traditional publishers will never care about your book being good, and you’re naive if you think that.”

    I don’t have any problem with other people self-publishing, but that’s just not what gets me geeked. Yes, I will be so crazy and audacious as to attempt to do what thousands of people do successfully every year – get a publisher!

  • Cindy L says:

    I meant to add to my comment, above: Nobody asks a dentist or a lawyer, for instance, to give away their professional services in order to “get exposure” or to build their business. But writers and journalists are told to do so all the time.

  • Mark says:

    “go to work, send your kids to school
    follow fashion, act normal
    walk on the pavements, watch T.V.
    save for your old age, obey the law
    Repeat after me: I am free”

    Graffiti on Philip St, Bedminster, Bristol, UK

  • John K. Lunde says:

    The strange part about this is how much pressure there is to put yourself on the wrong side of these statements in the name of ‘marketing simplicity’. Why is it that we’re encouraged to lose nuance and thoughtfulness in the name of message clarity that will supposedly help ‘cut through the clutter’ of today’s crowded marketplace?

  • Sarah Russell says:

    “I’ve never run my own business, but I know that yours will fail (and you’ll end up broke and living in a van down by the river…).”

    Thanks to certain friends and family members for giving me that gem – can’t wait to prove you wrong!

  • Scott McMurren says:

    So–how did you get into my email account? Direct quotes!! HAHAHAAHHAAHHAAHAA

  • Harry says:

    My god is the only one and only the stuff in my book is the truth, the other 3200+ recognized gods are just nonsense and for silly people.

    What do you mean he does not exist? It says right here in this book!

  • Sean says:

    This is the perfect post to wake up to. Not only to remember that everyone who thinks they know something about my life and business, probably doesn’t, but more importantly that I dont know everything I think I might at times.

    It’s just as important to remember that last part when seeking to give unsolicited advice…

  • flipnomad says:

    simple and straight to the point… one of my fave posts…

  • Harry says:

    “I have never had to work for my daily food, but I am sure that you won’t be able to survive on $10/day.”


    “Of course you and everybody needs a car, can’t you see I am too obese to ride a bike?”


    “I have never spoken to a Colombian, but am sure that you will get robbed if you go there”

  • Jodi says:

    “I know I never listen to you but I know that my suggestion is better than what you’re doing.”

  • Beth says:

    Pretty much anything that starts with “You should…” is automatically put in my IGNORE pile. (Even when it’s valuable. I’m ornery that way.)

  • deb says:

    “I can help you with that.” -customer service rep
    “I don’t dislike you as a person, but your beliefs will earn you a place in hell”
    “I’ve never had kids, but if I did, I’d spank them for that behavior”

    That was fun! Thanks Chris, helps me be more aware of my own behavior…

  • Kathie Nelson says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion in my 50 years of life and nearly 20 years of consulting that each of us knows more than we think we do.

    Yes, we do need outside direction at times from someone who’s been there and done things we aspire to do but our current culture and marketing trends make us susceptible for a quick fix or formulaic solutions.

    Cookie cutter solutions don’t work in business. Let your heart’s dream and your DNA be your guide. You may miss the target a few times, but I guarantee you will gain valuable insight into what does and doesn’t work FOR YOU and have the potential to unlock markets, revenue, and fulfillment beyond what you could ask or imagine.

    PS I’ve been hearing what I couldn’t do since I was a young girl. It is the WRONG thing to tell me. I will work even harder to prove that I can sometimes to my own detriment. (I am working on this.)

    Chris, thanks for sharing your brilliance with us. Keep up the good work.

  • Steve says:

    One of my favorites: ” I don’t know about you……… yet I’m going to give you a long tale about myself that’s irrelevant to your situation”

  • Maria says:

    Aren’t we all guilty of telling people what to do?

  • Patricia says:

    “It’s just as important to remember that last part when seeking to give unsolicited advice…”

    Agreed! We can’t change others, but we CAN watch out for our own behavior.

    So now I have to stop being such a know-it-all, and remember that it’s good to be humble. 😉

  • Werner says:

    I love it when obese/fat people give weight-loss and health advice and people with money problems are always filled with financial wisdom and tips of how to invest and make money.

  • Lisa Robbin Young says:

    My personal faves:
    “I managed to become a millionaire and even though I’m filing bankruptcy now, still flying by the seat of my pants, making stuff up as I go, people look to me to teach them how to become a millionaire and run a successful business, too… P&L statements? What are those?”


    “You don’t need a business budget! Just give me your money and I’ll show you how to create a great widget to grow your business… you have seven days to decide, at which time we’ll close the program, and you’ll just miss out on the biggest money of my – er, I mean YOUR – life.”

  • Micamyx says:

    Bookmarked 😀

  • gwyn says:

    “My kids are a huge pain in the ass. So, when are you going to have some?”

    Gratefully I have passed the age where they can ask that one.

    Good stuff Chris!

  • Danny says:

    “There are hundreds of musicians just like you trying to make it…. so, clearly, you need to move to Nashville to do it JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE”.

  • Victoria Lansford says:

    I will never buy any of your artwork, but let me tell you what you should make because I think it will sell.

  • Melissa says:

    I totally agree with Jenni P. The ever present “You’re weird” or “You’re crazy.” My answer, I’d rather be weird than normal if normal is sitting on the couch watching tv all day. I’d much rather be out doing triathlons or writing.

    Also, “You have to…” No. I don’t “have to” do anything that I don’t want to.

    And “It’s time for ___ now” (ie it’s time for a real job or it’s time to have kids now or it’s time for a house.)

  • gwyn says:

    PS not to say I think kids are a pain in the ass, but the people most concerned with my not having any were the least happy about their own.

  • Anna says:

    Let’s only apply this attitude to unasked-for advice and not to people following their passion. For example:
    “I’ve never done x but I’m sure you’ll fail” and
    “I’ve never done x but you should pay me lots of money to tell you how to”
    both of these people suck. BUT:
    “I have no idea if anyone’s ever done this but I’m so excited to make it happen” and
    “I have no idea if anyone’s ever done this but if anyone can do it it’s you”
    are both totally awesome.

    You don’t have to have experience to be able to succeed — I think we’re all saying that you have to have experience to give criticism or paid advice. And guess what, you should *still* wait till someone asks you for it.

  • ckoelker says:

    “I just got laid off after 30 years at a government job, but YOU NEED to find a reliable job with benefits – because IN THIS ECONOMY…..”

  • Robert Redus says:

    The nefarious John N. Mitchell said at the Watergate hearings…. “Let us be tried by our actions.” yet he also said “do as I say, not as I do”.

    Great post Chris

  • Karen says:

    “You can’t just spend your whole life traveling and writing, you know.”

    and it’s close relation:

    “You’ve got to settle down and get a proper job someday, you know.”

    Often from the same person – usually one who hates their proper job and would love to find the courage to travel the world/try and get some writing published.

  • Nancy says:

    How in the world are you going to start a personal training business? That’s too hard.

  • Sheila Crosby says:

    “I’ve never felt that way, and therefore you don’t either.”

    and on one memorable occasion:

    “DON’T YOU DARE SCREAM AT ME!!!!!” (screamed into my face at about 100 dB when I raised my voice slightly in response to his roar.)

  • Frances Schagen says:

    If it’s such a great idea, someone would have done it.

    When are you going to get a real job?

    I’ve only ever had a paycheque, but let me help you figure out your money.

  • Joshua says:

    “I have never been to Africa, but I’m pretty sure that everyone in that country is poor and miserable.”

    Thanks for the reminder to see the other person for who they are and not who I think they are.

  • Brandy says:

    This post made me so happy. It’s nice to know we’re not alone.

    I’m 37 weeks pregnant. The one I get the most these days:

    “I have never done any research on homebirth in my life. But I can tell you it’s a bad idea.”

  • Shane says:

    I have 100,000 followers so what I say matters

    I read the bible so I’m better than you by default – let me tell you why

    I don’t have an open mind so therefore it’s ok to be hateful and discriminating – let me tell you my point of views

    I want to gain power so therefore I won’t try to solve real problems – You need to listen to me

    -a few of mine

  • Derek says:

    Any comment that starts “Of course it is none of my business but…”.

    No, really – any and all of them. I had three variants of this one last week, and somehow managed to restrain myself every time (didn’t have a knife handy ;->).

    Yeah, I am thinking of the Lazarus Long quote. I think I just outed myself as a Heinlein fan (again)…

  • Enzo says:

    “tell me how to be happy when you are unhappy.”

  • Michael Murray says:

    Ahhh…but now you’re implying that you have a right to tell me what things I have no right to tell you! Before you had written a book, should you have really never have had the right to criticize someone else’s book? And do you suddenly have more right now? Do I need to know how to write a symphony before I have to the right to say I love or hate Beethoven?

  • Liz K Zook says:

    I had an art history major tell me to work on my strokes and take some classes. He’s not an artist. He’s an art history major.
    If I took an art class to learn how to paint, I wouldn’t paint like me.
    People are so terrified!

  • Jill says:

    How about: I only read the first paragraph of the essay but I know the author is WRONG!

    Great post!

  • Jesus Pina says:

    “I have never participated in or started my own home based business or network marketing business, but I know that business is a pyramid scheme and you will never make money with it”

    If they only took the time to do a little bit of research and learn about the business model…

  • Rudy says:

    Most of the time (or very often) the way other people communicate with us is…toxic…
    We have to detect toxic people… If possible avoid them…
    If not, find a way to communicate with them…
    I had a few in my relations…that I discarded…
    That is the only thing to do…and you will feel better…
    There are entire books on the topic…

  • j wilson says:

    “I’ve no idea how to use twitter or anything about social media marketing but you should make more use of facebook” One truth : I have no idea how you got railroaded into buying a timeshare but I can help you get rid of a timeshare!

    Actually the best ones are people who can’t drive telling you how to drive (usually from the back seat) or people telling you how to cook when they cant boil a runny egg.

    Anyway, nice post, will subscribe!

  • Emyliah says:

    “You should settle down, find a steady job, get married and stop travelling. That’s what someone your age should do. Life is not all about being happy and doing what you want.”

    From someone who’s not paying for my trips, got divorced and hates his job.

  • Polly says:

    Excellent post! I love some of your readers’ additions. Something my mother used to say to me when I would try to compete in a sport. “Don’t take it so seriously. You’re never going to the Olympics.”

    I never made it to the Olympics but I did compete in the ITU age group world championships in triathlon twice. I didn’t place high, but was proud to be part of Team USA. Those races gave me an opportunity to travel to Madeira and Hawaii. Places I had never been before.

  • Erica says:

    “My safe, well-paying job with great benefits makes me miserable, but you should find a safe, well-paying job with good benefits because enjoying what you do for a living is rare, and to think otherwise is fooling yourself.”

    “None of us are happy, but you should still do the same things we did.”

    My family’s great for these! This is also why I don’t like telling people I want to be a professional dancer.

  • Enrique says:

    I could not get a job yet, but I’ll tell you what you have to do to get hired in a job

  • Jane says:

    I’ve never had a job running anything significant, but still think you should elect me as President, Governor,etc.

  • Joy says:

    “The reason you are not successful is because you are too nice. You do too much for others. Oh, and by the way, I need your help with . . . .”

  • Kerrie says:

    Let’s also remember that the Great Depression is alive and well in our culture via memory & the collective unconscious. Everyone’s afraid b/c something bad might happen or has already happened, and all their survival issues are triggered. We’re all in the soup together. Who, in your family, before you were born, lost a farm/spouse/parent/died in the war, leaving someone w/debt, etc.? Yeah, the comments aren’t welcome, but people are scared for their well-being and yours, too…

  • Michael R says:

    This reminds me of something my Grandfather once told me.

    “Never take advice from someone who is in a position that you don’t want to be in.”

    I have held to this ever since both in the giving and receiving of advice.

  • Kate says:

    “I’ve never made a nickel in the stock market, but I can teach you how to invest!”

  • Enrique says:

    “I could not get a job yet, but I’ll tell you what you have to do to get hired in a job.”

  • Elizabeth says:

    Oh Brandy, I got that all the time when I was expecting mine. They were all fine and each one was an amazing experience for me. Go with your instincts…

  • Art says:

    Don’t be quick to dismiss somebody just because they are lacking experience in something in which they are offering advice. I agree that the people that are the subject of this post are usually talking out of their blowhole but there may be some nuggets of value to be had. Learning from one’s mistakes is important but often overlooked is the ability to learn from other people’s mistakes.

  • Sara says:

    My personal favorite – I’ve never built a website, nor have any programming or technical skills, but I know this will be a simple project (build me a Facebook rival by Friday).

    Great post – thanks!

  • Cara Lopez Lee says:

    I need you to hear my opinion on how you should approach your vocation, in which I have zero experience. If you don’t agree with my opinion, you’re obviously resistant to success and need to get over your fear.

  • Scott says:

    “I’m scared to go out into the world, so you shouldn’t go either.” Gee thanks, Mom.

    Great, hilarious post! Made me subscribe.

  • Susan says:

    “Here’s how you should change your life in order for me to be more comfortable with you.”

  • chris says:

    You should be afraid of the things that I’m afraid of. If you’re not, well, you’re just being stupid. You should watch the news more often so you’ll now what you need to be afraid of.

  • Travis says:

    “Do what I say and not what I do.”

  • DawnG says:

    I’ve never “POIsonally” 🙂 been there before, but let me tell you all the negative things about that place you’re moving to.

  • Austin L. Church says:

    Chris, this post was right up my alley. Oh, the merchants of unsolicited advice divorced from any practical experience! I myself have to be careful of being one. I remember in middle school when my friend Lauren called me “weird” one too many times. It wasn’t even that the word hurt my feelings but that I’d gotten sick of the idea of normal and felt sorry for people who tried to fit into a category that doesn’t exist. Let’s all be weird. One person’s history or negative outcome doesn’t determine someone else’s. Misery and sadness are about the least persuasive things in the world. Joy, peace, patience, and kindness, on the other hand, are good signs that a person is on the right track, and therefore, worth listening to.

  • Becky says:

    I enjoyed this post and all of the comments. The point the post has drove home for me is the importance of listening to other people and giving advice only if asked. Not natural for me, but it’s something I have been working on and will continue to work at improving. We can learn so much and avoid looking like know-it-alls if we ask for more feedback than we provide! Thanks, Chris!

  • Kathy says:

    Any statement that begins with “What you need to do is…” automatically gets my back up.

    Also “I know someone who cured her (insert name of incurable chronic illness here) with diet and exercise.” (Said to me, I have fibromyalgia.)

    “Are you gaining weight” said by a client followed by “Would you be willing to help me with” (Why yes I would just love to help you after you have insulted me)

  • Ellen Holbrook says:

    Hilarious post! And I love all the other comments too! Everyone has the right to their own opinion – and if they choose to believe someone else’s bullshit, it’s their own fault.

  • Kate says:

    Art, you are absolutely right about teachers who are qualified because they’ve made the mistakes. Dave Ramsey is brilliant in his get-out-of-debt teachings, and he knows what he’s talking about, because he went bankrupt many years ago.

    There are plenty of professional sports coaches who were not outstanding players, so coaching is certainly a special gift, in many cases. But it’s crucial to separate the charlatans from those who really have something to give.

  • Jenny says:

    Don’t eat the street food, only eat at restaurants.

    America is the greatest country in the world, everyone is trying to be us.

    I hope you decide to make your life in America.

    Have you got a boyfriend yet? Did you get any this weekend? What you need to do is…

    People that are lactose intolerant just need to drink lots of milk to boost their tolerance. I read a study about it. What happens to you any way? No really what happens? What happens? Can’t you just eat a little bit?

    You need to put on some makeup to show you care about professionalism. You need to be wearing some color (makeup).

  • DeeDee says:

    “take my advice. I’m not using it.”

  • John says:

    I assure you I will keep my promises. I’m a politician.

  • laxsoppa says:

    “I know you’re taking all the risks and shouldering all the responsibility here but I still insist that you do as I say, not as you deem best.”

    Heard this a million times, and I still can’t be sure that whoever has said this to me at any given time has actually grasped that they are spectators, not participants, in whatever venture I am up to.

  • Diana Douglas says:

    How about–There’s no reason to sign up for Facebook or Twitter. They’re both on their way out.

  • Karl says:

    Yes, it’s challenging and perhaps even frustrating to try to connect with someone when they are sharing their ideas and don’t seem to have the experience to back them up.

    But more importantly than discounting their advice as being irrelevant, it can be an opportunity to connect with another person, and hear about their life and what is important to them.

    I remember your post about when you left your luggage unattended in the bathroom. The same issues comes to mind now:

    – are we too quick to judge and react to others before trying to connect with an approach of understanding?

  • Jeri says:

    “I am young, you are old, so you can not possibly know what it is like to be young or have anything creative/constructive to offer.” or ” I am old, you are young and there is not anything you are living now that I have not lived or done, so you have nothing new that is creative/constructive to offer.”

  • Teresa says:

    We are completely different so we are not compatible. And I am afraid of risks so you should not take them either..And finally, you are just way to sensitive 🙂

  • Mandy says:

    I’m sure these have been mentioned above but here are some of my favorites:

    “The only way to find a boyfriend nowadays is online. Because I did. And because I did means that’s the only way.”
    “Sure, you can do want you love but have a Plan B.”
    “I’m just worried about you…that you’re not like me.”
    “I just want you to be happy so you should do what I do so that my lifestyle of mundane-ness is justified.”
    And to second what someone else already said, anything that starts with “You know what you should do…” must be avoided at all costs.

    Oh! And one that was said to my mother…by her husband: “You’re a fool to think you can make it as an artist.” He is husband no more. 🙂

  • Shannon says:

    Fear of change is a bitch. I think we have been on both sides of these statements. I will do my best to make my way through the criticism and fear to lead my life the way I choose.

  • Kate Frishman says:

    Funny, this has been my struggle lately. I’m a new writer, but I’m “supposed” to blog about writing to show my skills. It feels so fake that I haven’t been able to make myself keep it up, so my blog is withering away.

    On the other hand, I’ve been homeschooling five very different children for twelve years, and I feel like I have something to say about it. Too bad that won’t help anyone take me seriously as a writer…

    Oh, and if you want to earn some unsolicited advice from the clueless, just tell people you’re homeschooling. I especially love the ones who bring up “socialization.”

  • Victoria says:

    “I don’t know anything about bi-lingualism but I am sure it’s a bad thing. If you don’t stop speaking English at home your children will be complete failures in the French school system and their lives will be ruined.”

    Strong advice given to me by the teachers when my children were in elementary school here in France. I ignored all their advice and I have been vindicated – my eldest daughter recently passed her French baccalaureat exam with honors 🙂

  • Gonzo says:

    “You’ll starve as a writer. Why don’t you just get a job?”

    The person who told me this is 40 years old and just earned her MFA, but she’s working as a sommelier. Hmm…

  • Becky says:

    I never finished college because it was a waste of my time. You, my daughter, are Not college material. (And to my sister, was said…) You will never make it in your chosen course of study. Find an easy major and get out of school as fast as possible.

  • Rachel says:

    In my experience, anything that follows the words “Why don’t you just” can be ignored.

  • Anthony Quaglieri says:

    I love you but I’m not IN love with you.

  • Mark says:

    Here’s another for the list…..”I struggle to understand the Internet, and haven’t the patience of an infant to study it. But, let me show you why it’s irrelevant and not really a factor in our business, since ours is the only industry in the world not substantially impacted by it.” 😉

  • Joy Langtry says:

    “How can you not be afraid? Look around you – everybody else is afraid – you need to be afraid, too!”

  • Julie Bruening says:

    I see you’ve been talking to my mother…

  • Rita Roberts says:

    Let me tell you what you really meant…(think, feel, want, did, said, are) because I took some psychology courses.

  • TKent says:

    Change my opinion with the facts? Never. X-\

  • Danny G says:

    “You know what your problem is?”

  • Keith says:

    “I’m not a (insert profession), but shouldn’t you…”

    I happen to be an engineer, and hear this EVERY TIME I go to a construction site.

  • Kelly says:

    “You shouldn’t feel that way.”

    “You don’t really dislike your job, you’re just not looking at in through my experience.”

    “When you start doing what you like to do for a living, it’ll become a huge drag and you’ll be miserable just like you are now, so you should stay in the safe job.”

  • James says:

    “Now is not the time to….”

    When is the time? Wait until I’m dead in the ground? Wait until I’m safe?

  • Amanda says:

    “I can despise the work of (published) authors because (one day) I’m gonna write a book”

    “Just get a job until you’re 60” – the words of my accountant.

    “You’ll end up living in a caravan, eating cat food.”

  • Catherine says:

    Oh this post just made my day! especially given my work environment at the moment!

  • Caroline says:

    I get this one all the time: When you stop trying so hard…it will just happen. Things always just “happen” when you least expect it.

    Really? UGH, so gross.

  • Melita says:

    One I heard this week: “Well obviously you’re not as good as that consultant, they’re charging much more”.

    Obviously I should charge more… if only I wasn’t ethical!!!

    And of course the classic – “When are you getting a REAL job?”

  • Mary Jane says:

    “Sit down,shut up, sit on your hands, and be who I need you to be, so that I can feel comfortable”.

  • Mandy says:

    “I’ve never traveled outside the USA because other countries are dangerous.”

  • Janet says:

    I myself don’t have kids but you’re raising yours all wrong.

  • Rachael says:

    My mother:

    “I know I’ve spent almost your entire life sitting on the couch watching TV, ridiculously high on pain pills and collecting permanent disability (despite being able to walk perfectly fine, think, use her hands, etc.) but don’t you think it’s rather self-centered of you to go to photography school since you’re a mother?”

    My father:

    “I know that I dropped out of high school and have been struggling in a sweat shop for 30 years to barely make ends meet, but don’t you think you are too old to go back to school? College is for kids. I mean, you should just do what I did and keep going to your job.”

    Might I add that I was only 24 years old, a single mom of a 5 year old and only making $10 per hour at my 40 hour per week job. I was living in a tiny studio apartment yet wasn’t able to pay my rent or daycare consistently. If anybody SHOULD have been ambitious it was me.”

  • Ros Virisheff says:

    Oh I wouldn’t have done it THAT way.

  • Patrick Alcoke says:

    “You won’t succeed because no one has ever done it before”

  • Tim says:

    John Howard as a monkey. Lovely to see our Ex PM made famous on you site, Chris.

  • Raven says:

    “I went to college, got married, had three children, and led a ‘traditional’ life. Therefore you should do the same. You should not think for yourself, move away from family, become involved in the arts, or do anything else ‘non-traditional’, or you will be labeled as a rebel and expelled from the family.”

  • Elisabeth says:

    “It is better to be safe, than sorry.” Safety is just an illusion. I’d rather be real on my own terms, than falsely safe on someone else’s terms.

  • Stephenie Zamora says:

    Love this list! Reminds me of how much it bothers me when a personal trainer isn’t in shape…

  • Jeff says:

    Absolutely hilarious!

    If only I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard one of those…

  • Jackie says:

    “I wasn’t actually listening to a word you said, but here’s what I think you must do based on everything I assumed you were going to say before I stopped listening.”

  • Kim Kircher says:

    We don’t see the world as it is. We see it as we are. This is far too often the truth.

  • Jo Hilder says:

    I’ve never left this town. I’ve never lived anywhere but here. I’ve only ever seen places outside my own zip code on TV. But I can tell you – the world is a scary place, and my deep, intrinsic fears concerning foreign places and the foreign people who come here from foreign places are completely rational and reasonable.

  • Jt Clough | Big Island Dog says:

    “You stay so fit and in shape. I want to be like you. I’m trying to lose weight but it’s hard to fit in time to work out.” Said while choosing the french fry option rather than the salad option at the restaurant… “Oh yeah, and can I get a side of tartar sauce and extra cheese on the burger special.”

  • OBXartist says:

    I’m part of a management team that just drove a company into bankruptcy. But you should hire me because I have management experience.

  • Grahame Turner says:

    “Here’s my subjective experience, which I will now objectify for you as universal truth. My definition of success is the only one that matters, even though it has shifted over time in accordance with my unique journey through life.”

    But if we take away that one, what would Fox News and their pundits say? What about all of those people in forums on the internet? Honestly, we need to be able to pass opinions off as facts, or these industries will fail.

  • Trista says:


  • Charlotte says:

    Thanks everyone! Great thoughts! Very uplifting!

  • RKA says:

    Brilliant comments. I will write a book about it just like every one else…or better yet, an E book….want to buy it?

  • Lyi says:

    “Don’t you know how to ask for help instead of sitting here?” said the last woman who just joined the team.

    *room filled with 3 people who came in earlier to help*

  • Carroll Owens says:

    Yes, BUT……………..

  • Debora says:

    “We already tried that and it didn’t work.”

    “You are a Christian, so you must be an ignorant bigot.”

    “You are too old, young, rich, poor, pretty, ugly, uneducated, to do that.”

    “You can’t get ahead unless you know somebody.”

    “You must have gotten ahead because you know somebody.”

  • Wyman says:

    Lots of true-isums.

    When starting out online you will not have all the answers but you can report on what you have learned and mistakes to avoid. Just don’t try to be an expert before your time.

  • Laureen says:

    “You should have…”

  • GutsyLiving says:

    “Why did you spend money on your blog? You’re obviously not doing things right.”

  • Terry Fischer says:

    Specific to us Native Americans, “That’s not how I learned it from my elders.” (sigh)

  • Lainer says:

    Why do you use Apple Computers? DOn’t you know how terrible they are? Don’t you know that’s a failing company? (listened to this gibberish since 1994 and ignored it. The info ALWAYS comes from someone who’s NEVER used an Apple Computer, by the way. Oh, and these days, they all use iPhones.)

  • BekB says:

    “When are you going to start growing up and stop having fun???”

  • Joanna says:

    Excellent article. The most dreaded phrase I’ve heard over the years is, “If I were you….” Which is always followed by some ‘revolutionary’ (meaning: totally discardable) piece of advice. Then one day it finally dawned on me that if they were me, they would be doing exactly what I am doing.

  • j wilson says:

    @ wyman “When starting out online you will not have all the answers but you can report on what you have learned and mistakes to avoid. Just don’t try to be an expert before your time.”

    Think of it like life, a jigsaw, each of us learning a different skill at a different time. We may become experts in the pieces we know or think we are.

    There is no “time” it is all about self belief, let it hold you back and it will, let it propel you and it will.

  • Kalen says:

    “My kids are all jerks, but this is how you should raise your baby.”

  • Agatha says:

    “I know so little about medicine and kids that I harass you any time my baby is crying for more than 5 minutes, yet le tme tell you how you should run your practice, what sub-specialist you should refer me to and what tests I demand.”

  • Jetaun says:

    That sounds about right. People can’t seem to help themselves and it’s sad because you do more harm than good a lot of the times. It’s one of the reason’s we’ve ended up with so many lost souls out there still looking for something they can’t seem to find. They talk to other people, and unsurprisingly, you still can’t find it.

  • Julie says:

    Ha ha! Great post and the comment, “you’re weird” made me laugh out loud – I’ve heard it from my family on many occasions! If I get asked “have you found a job yet?” one more time from someone I know, I may scream! I have my own business, believe it or not – THAT IS A JOB!!!

    I had a successful dog walking business for 4 years and my brother told me that his wife had a “great job” at home depot and that I should try to get a job there.

    and let’s not forget “the economy is horrible right now, why would you want to try and start your own business??”

  • Irene says:

    So Funny ! I hear that so often at my work and in my private life. I had a good laugh reading it.

  • Amy C says:

    Great post (and love all the comments).

    “I’m not really listening to what your business is about or what your dreams for it are (even though I just asked you about it), but here’s what you should do.”

    “I’ve never had kids, but mine would *never* do that.”

  • Pj says:

    All the unique, quirky things about ME make me interesting and an individual….all of the unique, quirky things about YOU make you weird and odd and wrong.

  • Mercedes says:

    “I never got to accomplish my original dreams in full and now I’m dissatisfied with how my life has turned out, but I still think you should listen to me because I brought you up in this world and don’t feel you have the personal right to alter your life’s mission in any fashion, because that can only mean that you are throwing your entire life away.”

  • Wendy Burnett says:

    I’m not a doctor, but you shouldn’t be taking all those medications.

    I don’t have any chronic illnesses, but I know that all you have to do is decide to feel better and you’ll be fine.

    Or, my personal favorite: I’ve never been sick, and know absolutely nothing about your illness except what you’ve told me (and I wasn’t listening then;) but if you’ll just take this supplement/vitamin/herb it will cure you.

    Great post – love it!

  • Natalie Warden says:

    “You look as healthy as me. You can’t be sick.”

  • Katie McCaskey says:

    “Are you high?” [Um. No, actually. Are you?]

    “So-and-so already did that.” [So what? We’re different people.]

    Or, when you’ve achieved success, suddenly what you accomplished was “totally easy anyway/you had secret, special advantages”.

    @Gwyn That sound familiar to me, too.

  • Rob says:

    Great list Chris. It’s heartening to read something so truthful and real.

    Here’s mine: “I’m a completely different person than you. I have different values, different experiences, different hopes, different dreams, and different skills. I’m living a life that’s my own, and very different than what you seem to want. Here’s what worked for me…”

  • Lunar Hine says:

    “As the parent of my child, let me tell you how you should be raising your child.”

  • Macie says:

    “I’ve never had a child, but let me tell you how to raise yours.”

    “I have no experience with your medical condition, but here’s why your chosen course of treatment is wrong.”

    “I’ve never personally known someone who’s (insert minority), but everyone knows those people always (insert detested behaviour).”

  • Macie says:

    “That’s not how I’d do it, so clearly it’s wrong.”

    “Twenty-five dollars a page?! For what? Crossing out a few words, making a couple notes, checking my spelling?” (from someone who knows I’m a freelance editor, and has just asked me to ‘take a look at’ their manuscript—which reads as if written by a second grader)

  • Delle says:

    “You want to be a millionaire in 4 years or less? Man, that’s IDIOTIC. Now way can YOU do that.”

  • Kirsten says:

    After recently making the decision to leave corporate America behind and follow my bliss as a jewelry artist, I was told:

    “No one makes a living selling jewelry, well, unless you want to go live in Taiwan and work in a factory.”

    And, after telling someone that I’m really excited for this next chapter in my life, I was told:

    “But don’t be too excited – it might not work out.”

  • Pamela says:

    I always find it amusing when the most enthusiastic and opinionated child rearing advice comes from people who either have no children or have horrible relationships with the ones they have. Of course, it’s usually unsolicitated too.

  • irene says:

    I get this all the time: You should have a baby, you will never feel complete until you have one. (A message from a miserable wife, an overbearing mom, and a career-hungry friend.)

  • Gene says:

    7 dreaded words: “We’ve never done it that way before.”

  • Susie says:

    Love love love the list and the additions!

    One of the more recent things I’ve heard from my massage therapist…’your diet is an important part of your health.’ But she is always complaining of the need to lose weight and has a horrible diet.


  • Jermaine says:

    “I’m unemployed and sitting on my couch, but here is why you need to go back to school and get your degree.”

    “I’ve never read his book, but here is why you shouldn’t read his book either.”

    “I’ve never been to China, but I know it’s dangerous for Christians to go there.” (I remembered how many times I heard that one as I sat in a church service in Nanjing)

    “All of my family/friends/neighbors are of the same ethnicity, here is why dating outside of your race is a bad idea.” If I had listened to that one, oh how I would have missed out on the joy that is my wife.

    “Jermaine, I’m drowning in student loan debt and hate my job, but you really need to finish college.”

    I think way deep down people mean well, but it comes across as well, mean.

  • Julieanne says:

    “I want this so badly, it is not possible that you do not, therefore you are lying when you deny wanting this.”

    “It’s time you give yourself permission to NOT be in pain.”

    “You are ruining your children’s lives by…. (fill in the blank)”

    “You look great! You must be all better!” (No, the fact that I got some sun does not mean the RA, Fibro, Migraines, brain lesions, asthma and all the rest of my chronics have disappeared. Thanks for asking though!)

  • Dilanka says:

    This is a tough one. Especially because the MAJORITY of the people around me (friends, professional folks, ex-lawyers, even family). fit this bill perfectly.

    They associate AGE with EXPERIENCE and EXPERIENCE with knowledge. Just because they are older and more experienced, I am automatically supposed to entertain their ‘expert’ counsel. Riiight.

    These days, time and resources are limited and therefore I take a quick mental snapshot of your current state of affairs and juxtapose them with your words. 9 times out of 10 most people fail this test.

    I am not saying, you don’t have anything valid to add to the conversation because you are older or more experienced — but understand: If you are broke with 2 failed marriages, I will most probably ignore your financial and relationship advice.


  • Scott says:

    I don’t know what I want until you design it, then I know I won’t want that!

  • 1Vikinggirl says:

    I know nothing about art but I know what I like…

    Monty Python

  • Ricardo Bueno says:

    I hit this one every now and then ==> “That will never work because I haven’t tried it.”

  • Stocovaz says:

    I LOVE this post. I have only one piece of advise for almost anyone in almost any situation – in the form of 3 questions:

    Have you thought it through?
    Does it make you happy?
    Does it put food on the table?

    The questions are in *my* order of importance, it doesn’t really matter what the answers are, so long as they actually think about the questions.

    Needless to say, I am NOT a teacher. The old adage “those who can’t do… teach” appears to be more often correct than not. I think we can include consultants, advisors, etc. to that list.

    Just my two cents, and unlike many, I understand that my oopinion is my opnion, not fact.

    Cheers, J

    ** Live life for yourself, not because you are supposed to **

  • Caitlin says:

    I told you so.

    Your dream sucks.

    I have a better idea for you.

    Mistakes can kill you. So avoid them at all cost! (Which paralyzes you when you do make a mistake.)

    I’m better than you.

    My better is better than your better.

  • Brendan Murphy says:

    I have never taught, but you definitely should be testing them until they learn something new.

  • Patricia GW says:

    “I’ve played it safe my whole life, so you should too.”

    “The way I’ve lived my life is the ONLY way.”

  • Matt Smith says:

    “Here’s my subjective experience, which I will now objectify for you as universal truth…”

    I just wrote a blog post on this in my personal blog, as relates to racism/sexism/heterosexism/etc. One of the ways people avoid having to acknowledge these issues is by saying, “Well I’m gay, and I’m doing just fine. Anyone complaining about heterosexism is full of it – we can all make it in this society!” As though everyone is and should be the same, and as though our circumstances are all exactly the same.

    Hooray for people who don’t think about things or see any complexity in the world!

  • Mimi says:

    Most people don’t give constructive advice even when they’re claiming to or think they are. Its usually a way for them to shoot down others as they face the threat of someone possibly doing better. “Well meaning advice” usually sounds like an attempt to quell the advisor’s own insecurities. Its really incredible that people are not aware when they do this.

  • Zoe I says:

    This was absolutely, exactly what I needed to read. I started to compile a ‘witty’ addition to the above and, before I knew it, had a long long loooooooong list of all the reasons why (other people think) I’m wrong and they’re right. It’s a massive drag to carry it around….so I’m going to write it all out and burn it in a little good riddance ceremony in the back garden 🙂

    Thank you, Chris.

    Personally, my favourite one is “You can’t hitchhike – it’s far too dangerous, especially for a girl (I’m 30), I’d never do that and I’m a guy/grown woman/experienced traveller/magical luck-gathering wizard.” Usually said by people picking me up. I point out that they are talking about themselves…then wait and watch their face as understanding dawns.

    I’m privileged to have met some of the country’s kindest people whilst travelling these roads. Trust in another human being is a beautiful thing, when accompanied by good instincts and strength of character – something I suspect most of the fearful beings described above have yet to really utilise. I hope to remember to send joy and love to them all.

  • Paulina says:

    Grow up! and start living your life the same miserable way I do…

  • Robert D.C. says:

    “I just wish you’d listen to me when I know I’m right!”

    Confession: I actually did say that to a girlfriend, one time. As it turns out, she should have listened. As for me, guilty as charged.

  • Opal R. says:

    “if you be ____, you’ll have to marry a doctor.”

  • Opal R. says:

    “I just want YOU to be happy”
    Thank you, I’m so glad I found this site: on the road to world domination. been threatening for years and now its time for action.

  • Ling says:

    “Can’t you wait til I’m dead before you take any risks? Do you know how unfair that is to me?”

  • pascal says:

    “Just because I can’t imagine you doing this means it’s unimaginable and therefore not possible.”

  • Lauren says:

    “You’ve said that before and didn’t stick to it.”
    My sister said this when I told her that I was beginning a writing program.

  • Michelle L says:

    “I’m brand new here and know nothing about your company but let me tell you all of the things you are doing wrong.”

  • Rhiannon says:

    The one I have had all my life: Other people don’t do it that way/think like that/believe that, you are wrong wrong wrong to even think of doing it that way/think those things , and I am telling you this for your own good. The joke is I actually listened to this crap for a long time and ended up going my own way in the end anyway.

  • Kenny says:

    Trust me. You will regret it. I have years of experience and every year I get smarter and more expensive.

  • Jo says:

    Told friend about Adventure Aaron touring NZ in a “Space ship”..(small campervan) and I am going to do same: “How old is he?” Me..”about 30″. “How old are you?” Me. “that has nothing to do with it”. Friend: “you’re mad. It is so dangerous”. (Driving a car in my own country?? I don’t think so.)
    Another friend about volunteering in Peru: “What if you get sick?” Me: “next question?”

    We just have to edit them out. BTW…my body is old (and healthy)but my spirit is forever young!

  • Lynne says:

    “I’ve never tried to sell anything in my life, but you aren’t reaching the sales goals I set for you.”

  • enya says:

    I’m unhappy with my life but you’ll never be happy if you don’t live like me

  • Sarah says:

    “You’ll never get a job with those tattoos.”

  • Julie Scanlon says:

    Told to me by an auntie ‘You wouldn’t be the person you are now if you’d been ours’
    My response ‘I like the person I am’

  • Joseph Ratliff says:

    It’s a classic, but…

    “Why don’t you stop this writing thing… and get a real job.”

  • richard montena says:

    never underestimate or regret the experience of making mistakes.

  • Chris says:

    This is a timely post for me. It’s amazing that just today my sister was telling me that I should be more realistic. She is someone who is failing at most things and lives in fear and tries to push those fears onto me. I don’t even have the thoughts of failure any more until I hear BS from so called friends and family.

    Thanks for writing an inspiring post that keeps me knowing that I am on the right track. If the majority of people around you are miserable, stressed out, stressed out and complaining, and then they criticise and disagree with my movements/actions, then I know I must be on the right path. lol

    Thanks! Chris

  • Sadie says:

    Brilliant post! Most of these remind me of the Willy Wonka memes.

  • Sowm says:

    “No, you can’t”

    “You live in a dream world”

    “Suck it up and get a 9 to 5”

  • Ayla says:

    I LOVE this post – it is brilliant, and you have managed to put into words the exact emotion that I feel every time I have an idea and someone immediately responds with a negative criticism. “But what about….” “Have you thought of…….” and my personal pet hate: “What if…..” In the past it used to really bother me, and the negative criticism would make me question myself or feel silly for even thinking I could be any different or any better than the next “Miss Average”. After living through many life changing experiences (some pleasant, some extremely unpleasant) I have learned a lot and I now realize that doing what other people expect you to do robs you of the opportunity to be yourself. So what about the struggle involved in following my dreams? It’s worth it. Yes, I have thought about the risks – and to me they are worth taking. And what if something goes wrong? Well, then I’ll start again… but what if something goes right? That is more important. Thanks for a really inspiring blog Chris, I love reading your posts. 🙂

  • Tom Southern says:

    “You’ll never amount to anything if you don’t do exactly as I tell you.”

    or …

    “Do you really think anyone would be interested in what you’ve got to say?”

  • Annie says:

    “I failed to break away from my abusive parent, so YOU will never break away from ME.”
    “I’ve never been homeless, disabled, or under siege from creditors, but here’s how you can end all three!”
    “I have no medical education, but your doctor is wrong.”
    “Our company isn’t hiring right now. It’s your own fault if you can’t find a job– I’m sure other companies are hiring all the time.”

    The worst part? When you notice that you’re doing it, too. There are days when I look back and go, “Man… I can’t believe I said that yesterday. S/He must think I’m a self-righteous idiot. And s/he might be right.”

  • Sinead says:

    I’m miserable, unhealthy, and hate my job, but here is some free advice on diet, exercise and work-life balance.

  • midnightCoder says:

    Great post and excellent comments. One more observation:
    Those that know the absolute least about a subject or idea will always be the ones most adamantly opposed to it.

  • Louisa says:

    Great post! Thanks for making me really appreciate all the awesome people who, on hearing that I planned to travel, said, “well, I’d really hate that, but it sounds great for you – go for it!”

  • Elaine Love says:

    I once dated a man who said he was “often wrong but never in doubt.”

    Love the 40 year old woman who has only had 1 short term boyfriend in her life tell me “dump him. You have been together 8 years. Give up and go find somebody new.” I should take her advice because . . .

  • Stephanie Schutz says:

    “Time heals all wounds.” Then why do we all have present issues from things that happened in the past? Time does help but each person must put in the effort to heal or the wound will resurface later.

    “By feeling ____ (Or by quitting ____ ) you’ve let them win (or given them the power).” Feelings can’t be controlled though what you do with them can (like sharing them with that person). Quitting/changing the plan is sometimes the healthiest thing to do for everyone.

  • Van says:

    Haha! This was AWESOME! I love the ones pertaining to child-rearing from people with NO children! “I would NEVER let my child do _________”. “MY child would NEVER behave that way”. “If my child did/said something like that I would_____”. I try to remind myself and others : “perspective is everything.”

  • Steve says:

    I’ve gotten lots of great “how to succeed in business” quotes from people stuck in jobs they hate, working for someone else. The quote I like and actually heed, is “All the so-called “secrets of success” will not work unless you do.” (Anonymous)

  • Nicki says:

    In response to 26 year old me saying “I’m thinking of a career change.”

    The 21 year old: “Think you’re too old for that!” (He hated his high-paying job, and probably still does…)

    I’ve since changed “careers” and some “friends.”

  • Foster says:

    “He’s in a better place.” You know what? I DO believe we are energy that doesn’t die, but that doesn’t change the fact that he physically died and when we were together the world was bright and alive and funny and wonderful, okay? You think the world is awful? You have absolutely positively no goddamn idea how bad it can really be and do you want to know why I know that? Because you just told me a man I love more than I will ever love anything else in this world is in a better place!

  • fred says:

    I remember watching Ozzie Osborne and Dr Ruth on some show. Osborn asked her ” So your an expert on sex” She said “yes I am ” Osborne then said “Mr Ruth must be really happy “

  • Montana says:

    Hi Chris. I read your powerpoint The Art of Non-Conformity just now, and I’m moved by your writing and by opening my eyes to how full of crap I am. I’m one of those unremarkable people (right now), but I plan someday to live a life as pure as yours, and now that I see it, many other people. Previously I’d thought the only people that mattered were artists that got famous making really dark songs, cause ths the kind of stuff I like right now. I thought, they must be total nonconformists, to throw around their attitdue like that. I’m going to look around at people I see whose lives took courage to make, but are beautiful on their own. Thanks man, and good job on the 193 countries. I can’t imagine that! I can’t imagine people’s faces when you told them you were gonna visit every country. Thank you. You changed my perceptions. I thought all nonartists were a bunch of suitwearing snobs. I didnt know businessmen could be so real. and honest. I’m in a really dark place right now, and your powerpoint bothered me. I’m really gonna start changing my life. You gave me courage. That wont die.

  • Bob says:

    “I’ve never held a regular job, but those of you who have are unremarkably average.”

    Okay, black kettle. Just because someone doesn’t choose your path of country hopping doesn’t make them average. I’m writing this as a non-conformist.

    Re-read your World Domination guide when you turn 40. You are going to blush at how pompous and naive you sounded.

    Inspire without making fun of others. Now that shows grace and depth.

  • Gail says:

    What if everybody did it that way?

  • Keve says:

    2014! Here’s what I’ve run into as I was living my life:

    “We gave someone else that award becuase it isn’t fair that you won two awards.”

    “You wouldn’t be accepted into art school because you draw your figures in the same way.”

    “Why would you want to do that when you are so good at this?”

    My all time favourite: a marriage counsellor on their 5th marriage!


  • Jeff Alexander says:

    Is “sorry” on the list or a closing sentiment?

  • Sumgai says:

    Hey, there’s still lots of people reading this post.

    I got no advice or complaints about advice for now though.

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