I have had the good fortune to work with most of the facility assessment companies in the due diligence industry over the past three decades and to have learned from many Experts who were very successful in their field.  In many cases they were Experts with a capital “E”, believing that theirs was the ONLY way to do things.

Unfortunately, they have also provided some of the worst advice I’ve received through the years from both within and outside of the due diligence industry.

Here’s some advice that comes to mind:

“The only way to win contracts with big cities is to know people on the inside.” – From a successful client manager / salesperson whose specialty was municipal contracts.

I believed this one for decades until we proposed on and were awarded a large contract with the City of Los Angeles in 2011.

“The client gave us an impossible deadline.  We’re going to be late and there’s nothing we can do.” – From one of my bosses along the way that wasn’t willing to stay up all night and complete the project by the deadline.

Not surprisingly, he lost the client’s account soon afterwards… I learned what not to do and we have never missed a deadline in our company.

“You will never sell any of these.”  – From a successful salesperson advising us on our inflatable Christmas decoration idea.

We ended up selling out on eBay and, next thing you know, we’re seeing inflatable decorations on front lawns throughout the country.

“Your eyes will never get better; they will only get worse.” – From my well-meaning optometrist while I was in 7th grade.

Next thing I knew there was Lasik surgery and after 30 years I could throw away my glasses and contacts.

“You’ll never make that much money in your own company.” – From the founder of a successful consulting firm trying to dissuade me from starting my own company.

While there are certainly more expenses in one’s own company, I’ve come to believe the sky is the limit in terms of financial rewards for entrepreneurs, not to mention the satisfaction and happiness that comes from being your own boss.

When I was younger I used to listen and believe each of the experts I worked alongside.  And I did learn quite a bit from each of them.  Now, when I hear an expert definitively state what they know to be the ABSOLUTE TRUTH of how things work or how to do things or what the future holds, I’m automatically skeptical.  I listen and see what there is to gain from the advice, but I don’t automatically believe it like I once did.

The challenge with Experts is that frequently the more successful they are, the more they believe theirs is the only way to do things or to look at an issue.

In our company we are experts in what we do, but I think we are a different kind.  We realize there are many ways to approach any given situation, many approaches to any given project and many ways to accomplish various goals.  If anything we are experts in looking at each project newly and determining the best way to serve the needs of our client given the unique circumstances and parameters of that particular project.  That includes the correct project process, data gathering, staffing, and product delivery.  We are experts, but with a small “e”.