The One Question You Should Ask Everyone You Meet

At the risk of dating myself, who else remembers “The Sunscreen Song?” The track was put to wax by Baz Lurhmann during the summer of 1999 and features lyrics taken from a hypothetical commencement speech penned by Chicago Tribune Columnist Mary Schmich. The tune features some great pieces of advice. Specifically, though, it features the following advice about advice:

“Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.”

I love that line. Dispensing advice is a way of fishing from the past, taking the best parts and reusing it. While this line and the majority of the song was written with the personal aspects of life in mind, I’ve found it applies to the professional aspects of life as well.

I mean, it makes sense, right? The best way to learn is to take on advice from those you respect and those in places you aspire to reach. Whenever possible, I ask the business owners, marketers, and entrepreneurs I meet to share with me the best advice they have ever received. You’d be surprised how much insight such a simple question can yield.

As it relates to PR/marketing, here are a few of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received in no particular order. Hopefully, they will help you on your own journey.

  • If it’s going to take two minutes, do it now.
  • Be strategic in everything you do. Moving forward with an idea? Vetoing an idea? Shifting direction? Have a reason why.
  • Take complete ownership of both your victories and failures.
  • Think big – every time – and scale it back to meet your needs.
  • Learn how to write (yes, this needs to be said).

Oh, and one more piece of advice. Remember cool songs written during the years before you were of legal age to vote. They might help you write a blog post one day!

(This post has been updated since its original publication in February 2016.)