The N.C.F.B.A. met on Monday night (OK we sat and watched Preet eat dinner), and as usual the discussions and commentaries were entertaining, enlightening and fun (for me at least), and one of the topics that came up was about Advice and what people do with the advice you might give them (Michael James has in fact written an excellent post on how Investment Advice Usually Reaches the Wrong People).
I remembered one of my worst pieces of “advice” I ever gave to a dear friend, so here again, I reprise an “oldie but goodie” for you, dear reader. This post goes back four years ago, but is still as painful to read today as it was to write back then.
A parable about advice… (not just financial)
A few years ago I car pooled with a wonderful guy we’ll call Jack for this story.
One day after my wife and I came back from a great vacation in Florida, I told Jack about how to get free tickets to Paramount Studios in Orlando, by attending a “Time Share Condominium Sales Pitch” (my father-in-law told me about it), I told Jack that it was a hoot and also kind of sad seeing the “poor souls” (my opinion) who ended up buying these things.
The Sales guy was relentless, he was going to take Canadian money at par, he was going to let us pay with our credit cards, we could stay there right now if we wanted, etc., but we stuck to our guns, got our free tickets and left (with a lot of chuckling and many stories that I still tell to friends).
Jack thought it sounded like a good idea because he and his wife were going on vacation to Florida in a couple of weeks, so he said they would go as well.
Fast forward to the day after Jack and his wife came back from their Floridian vacation. The conversation was mostly about how much fun Jack and his wife had while in Orlando, so then I said, “How about that Time Share sales pitch, what kind of a schmuck would buy those things?”, and after a long pause Jack said, “Well, me, I bought one…”, I think my jaw dropped to the floor, and I might have said two words for the rest of the trip to the office. I never mentioned time shares ever again.
As an epilogue Jack never really did get to enjoy the time share and lost a fair amount of money on the deal.
Moral to this parable? Advice is a dangerous thing to hand out, and you had better be ready to take the heat when the advice goes wrong, even when your advice was completely misconstrued.