Great question! My grandfather used to read all seven of NYC's daily newspapers (several of which have since gone out of business) in order to triangulate a picture of what was *really* going on.
- Listen to multiple sources. If you hear the same thing over and over, there's probably merit in it.
- Do your own research. Read some books and articles but recognize that the situation may not be comparable.
- Post specific questions *with as much detail as you can* on discussion lists, including here at FD--but recognize that the advice you get will be a mix of useful and useless. Study the groups before posting questions so you get a sense of whose answers are worthwhile. The more carefully and completely you phrase your question, the better your answers. And learn how to parse it.
- Listen to your gut. You can even develop the skill of asking your subconscious directly and listening to the answer (which may emerge as a movement of the body).
- Don't be afraid to go out of the box, if it seems to be the right move--even if others are telling you it's too risky. But make sure it really is the right move.
Finally, be prepared when good advice takes you in a different direction, and understand when that makes sense. I'll tell you a success and a failure.
Back in 2003 as I was preparing my sixth book for publication (my 10th, Guerrilla Marketing to Heal the World, came out this year), I asked a discussion list about subtitles that would go well with my main title, "Win-Win Marketing." This was a list where I'd been active for quite a few years, and I had a pretty good sense of the "players." I heard very strongly from some of the most respected people on the list that my main title was a problem (for reasons I still don't really relate to)--that the phrase "win-win" had enormous negative baggage for some people.
It took two months of brainstorming to come up with a title: Principled Profit: Marketing that Puts People First. This title is actually much more holistic and much more about the deeper content of the book, which went well beyond marketing into how to think very deeply about the structure and mission of your business.
Oddly enough, knowing none of this history, the Mexican publisher (which had originally called it "Marketing Based in the People" changed the title on their second print run to "Marketing Based in Win-Win (Mercadotechnia basada en ganar-ganar)"
Fast-forward to last month. Someone I've known for many years and respect enormously got very excited about the way I am combining a Board of Advisors, Mastermind group and online discussion into a single entity for my new "Transformpreneurial Brain Trust." She gave me a long and well-thought-out brainstorm about how to commission brand new software that would do everything I wanted. The only problem was that she lost sight of my wider goal, which is to work with the business community on profitable ways to turn hunger and poverty into sufficiency, war into peace, and catastrophic climate change into planetary balance. I realized instantly that this would distract me from my real work and cost me much time and many thousands of dollars. Even though the advice came from a trusted source, it was bad advice for me at that moment. I chose to run with an off-the-shelf platform and to stay focused on my real mission.