“When I started ignoring the advice and doing what I thought I should do is when things really started to kick into gear for me,” my friend John told me in between bites on a chicken wing. We were talking shop in a hip, Korean BBQ restaurant in downtown Portland last Wednesday.

I had shared some recommendations I received from a consultant last year concerning a goal we both have and John doubted the advice because it ran counter to his plans.

In the past ten years, I’ve spent around $100,000 in training, education, and working with consultants and coaches.

I would have to agree with John that it’s a bit of a fool’s errand.

There were no post-education inflection points where I learned something that was transformational to the business. In fact, there were several things I learned that when I applied them worked against my goals.

It’s not that all the advice is bad. It’s that my situation is unique, just like yours is.

What will work for you depends on your market, your target customer, your objectives, your unique advantages, and your resources.

You can’t copy strategy. It’s always bespoke.

Which means that you either need to devise your own effective strategy or hope you get lucky wandering through the environment.

Though nothing fundamentally transformed the business with that $100,000 investment, I wouldn’t take it back if I could. I learned a lot about how things work and don’t work and that gave me the tools to create my own effective strategies.

It’s like taking a bunch of swimming lessons and not learning how to swim, but instead walking away understanding how swimming works. Then using that knowledge to invent the sidestroke and swimming across the English channel with it.