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What Tattoo Parlors and Friday the 13th Have to Do With Your Career

By on July 9, 2018

Remember “telephone”?

No, I’m not talking about those devices that people like me once used where we talked into non-digital devices that attached to the wall.

I’m talking about the game many of us played when we were little where one person whispered something to the next who whispered to the next and so on down the line until the last person said whatever the fact or statement was out loud and everyone laughed at and marveled over how different it is than what was originally said.

We may have all outgrown the game but rest assured many of us are still playing it all the time without realizing it.

But it’s no game anymore. When we’re doing it now, it can be self-sabotage.

My Friday the 13th Realization

Here’s why this has been on my mind: It’s Friday the 13th this week and on a recent Friday the 13th, my friend and I were walking by a tattoo parlor when I noticed lines around the block. I pointed it out and she said, “Oh yeah, tattoo places give out free ‘666’ tattoos on Friday the 13th.”

Huh. That seemed interesting and possible so I accepted it, not thinking much of it.

Then, a few nights later, I happened to be around some tattoo obsessed people I know (we’re talking about friends who don’t even know how many tattoos they have). They started talking about Friday the 13th and I mentioned the free 666 tattoos on Friday the 13th thing.

They looked at me like I was crazy. Turns out tattoo parlors do offer specials on Friday the 13th but the numbers 666 have nothing to do with it. Instead, that’s when you can get a deal on any tattoo with the number 13 in it.

This may seem like a minor point to a tattoo less person like myself. But distinctions like this aren’t minor when it comes to a career.

In fact “Right idea, wrong facts” can be the difference between success and failure.

The Misinformation I Received When I First Wanted to Write a Book

Let me give you an example: When I first decided I wanted to write a book, I read something a so-called expert I stumbled across online claimed with a great deal of what seemed like authority that the best way to sell a memoir was to just sit down and type up the 300-ish-page story of my life.

Then I met an agent and told him my plan. He looked at my quizzically and explained that no publisher would ever read a non-fiction book in its entirety from a new writer—that the only consider proposals.

“A what?” I asked.

I literally didn’t know what the word meant.

This is Now a Conversation I Have With Aspiring Authors All the Time

Now I know all too well what a proposal is. But a lot of people don’t because there’s so much misinformation out there. But here’s the thing: agents and publishers won’t read finished non-fiction manuscripts by writers they don’t know.

The problem, of course, is that we have an array of information at our fingertips. We can Google “how to write a book” and over 160 million options will pull up, many of them telling us things that are just plain wrong.

But in the day of SEO tips and tricks and shucksters claiming to be experts, we have no way of knowing if we’re stumbling onto accurate or bullshit information. Some bullshit can have so much glitter on it that it looks more accurate than the accurate information.

Look to the Source

It may seem obvious that we have to be clear we’re getting information from the people who actually know about the topic but so many of us are moving so quickly that we jump into new projects without being remotely sure we’re listening to people who know what they’re talking about.

In the real world, we are much more careful. If we want cooking advice, we ask a good cook.

If we want to know how to fix a carburetor, we ask a mechanic.

If we want to know how to learn online marketing, we study the most successful online marketers out there.

If we want to know how to write a book, we ask the people who have experience with that.

We don’t ask and study people who proclaim themselves to be experts in cooking, car repair, online marketing or book writing. We ask and study the people who have been doing it for years.

There’s a horrible expression out there about teachers. You know the one: those who can’t do, teach. I don’t think it’s true when it comes to school and college teachers. But it is true for some of the so-called teachers out there online who are showing people who don’t know any better how to do things they’ve never done.

My wish for you is that you don’t fall for them the way I have.

Otherwise you may end up walking into a tattoo parlor and asking for a free 666 tattoo on Friday the 13th and have people look at you like you’re crazy.

Metaphorically, anyway.

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