On Getting Advice

April 2, 2009 — 10 Comments

Agasicles, king of the Spartans, despite his fondness for intellectual discourse, would not entertain the sophist Philophanes. When someone expressed surprise at this, he declared: ‘I want to be the student of men whose son I should like to be as well.’

Plutarch, Saying of Spartans

People haven’t quite understood my feelings towards Penelope Trunk. But that’s sort of what it’s about.

We should take advice from people who have their own life together. We should read writers who write because they have something to say, not because they are desperately craving validation and will do or say anything to get it.

As I slowly realized how badly she fails in both those areas, I went from anger to a sad, deep pity.

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

10 responses to On Getting Advice

  1. Penelope hates on Tim Ferriss for all the wrong reasons.

    You hate on her for all the right reasons.

    But could elaborate on her “craving for validation?”

  2. I like this post because it highlights the difficulties for young adults when it comes to gaining a basic understanding of business relationships. Penelope Trunk takes advantage of the naivete and ignorance of college students and recent grads who haven’t really figured who is a good mentor and who needs to get their shit together. So many people in their 20s seem to be drawn to the loudest and most outspoken as their idols, even though they are often the worst kind of person to guide your life.

    By the way Ryan, it’d be awesome to hear about how you go about “networking” (making new friends, helping others connect, whatever it’s called) and if you’d recommend any specific books–especially utilizing social networking online (besides Seth Godin).

  3. Besides her constantly referring (and linking) to things she said previously? (And them always being inconsequential)

  4. Amen. To anybody who believes she has anything useful to say: even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  5. I went back and read this post of yours Ryan: http://ryanholiday.net/archives/how_to_convert_a_reader_to_a_f.phtml

    A point missing from that post, as demonstrated by Penelope, is taciturnity.

  6. Ok. Andy, point granted. Twittering about one’s menstruation is a bit over the top.

  7. http://twitter.com/penelopetrunk/status/1395466718

    I’m considering calling into her radio show and trying to get her to talk about all the disgusting personal stuff she always writes about.

    “Hi Penelope, I love your blog and follow you on Twitter. How’d that piss test go? Are you pregnant?”

    Probably more trouble than it’s worth. I bet I’ll just get hung up on or ignored even though I’d do my best to not sound like I’m screwing with her. There’s already enough hard evidence against her character. For instance, she states the show begins at 1pm EST. I thought she lived in the Midwest. Also, all that Generation Y stuff is really weird. I don’t think being born between the year 1981 and 1995 makes you a better person. Anybody who does is either the worst person in the world or a 43 year old going through a serious midlife crisis.

  8. Seeking bad advice is just as bad, if not worse, as seeking no advice at all.

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