October 24, 2014

Advice Isn’t Always Support

by nathanwebster in Social Entrepreneur

Advice Isn’t Always Support

In the beginning of launching our beta programs in the early years of Dream Big CC, I ran into an individual that was excited about our organization. They wanted to get together, meet for coffee, and discuss how they can individually help. During this initial conversation at a prestigious event, they went on and on about how they wanted to donate money and their time, but because of their experience with previous non-profits, they were sour on helping groups like mine.

With the nod from a former board member, I was too excited to pounce on this. We began talking, and exchanged business cards. I was thinking, “This is it!” I couldn’t wait to get home, send an email and schedule this meeting.

When we met for the first time, they were very informative and courteous. They gave me a lot of advice on what I wasn’t doing, and what I should be doing. They even offered financial support for the programs to help grow our capacity. After taking their advice, I was happy to implement the suggestions and follow up. After all, they came to me and wanted to give back.

As we came closer to implementing our programs in the schools, I asked this individual for financial support (i.e. – books, handouts, snacks, etc). They never responded back. When I continued to reach out after the fourth time and several months later, a few reschedules, we finally connected. But during this meeting, they disagreed with our progress and direction.

And guess what?

Yep, they wouldn’t be financially supporting us.

This was a painful lesson I had to learn. I was depending on them for books and materials. My 500 students were depending on me. I thought, “How could they do this to my students?”

However, they weren’t interested in donating anything other than their ego. They only wanted to be the person that gave advice rather than give their support. You have to understand that advice is only support when it is backed up with an investment.

A supportive person will donate their time and/or their money. They will follow up with you, make time for you, and carry some of the load to help you. Anybody can give you encouragement or offer suggestions, but that doesn’t mean they will take the time to support you.

Since a couple more of those instances throughout the years, I’ve learned to always make time to listen when someone offers advice. I listen to whether they will advise or support. People who advise don’t always mean they will invest in you. My experience has shown me they freely give what they can, but in most cases will state what they can do.

The education has been painful but very beneficial. By staying humble, I’ve learned a lot of people’s character. I’ve heard “no” a lot, but that’s not always a bad thing. Some are rude and don’t care how they trample on you. However, there are some that will give immediate and impactful support.

Remember, everyone can give advice. But not everyone will support and make that investment.

The picture below was my “official” rejection wall.

I write this because my business is personal. My struggles are for your gain. No strings attached.

Nathan A. Webster, MBA

Also featured on LinkedIn.