Stop giving me advice about cancer

You’re killing your credibility when you talk about things outside your wheelhouse.

Here’s how to fix it.

Bear with me on this one, because it delves into prejudice, assumptions and judgement.

All of which are things we like to think that we’re above.

So I was at a networking event a little while back and it was filled with coaches.

And the coaching crowd loves to do ONE thing above all else.

Coach people.

This event was focused around sales and marketing and improving your sales, but the attendees were coaches and consultants from all kinds of backgrounds.

Everything from Google Ads to weight loss and legal aid.

If you’ve ever been around coaches, you’ll know that the SECOND someone brings a problem up, coaches love to coach.

Michael Bungay Steiner talks about it in his book “The Advice Trap”.

We all do it – I do it.

Before you know it, you’ve got 5 different people giving you advice and telling you what you should be doing differently.

Part of this is a willingness and a desire to help people, fair enough.

But in my experience a bigger driver for this behaviour is people’s desire to be seen as valuable and useful.

If you believe that your self worth is tied to how useful you are, you’ll be more likely to prove to people that you’re useful.

And this can be devastating to your credibility.

At this particular event, I mentioned in my talk that I had testicular cancer back in 2021.

After a ton of chemo, four rounds of surgery, and a few stays in hospital I’m happy to say that I’m cancer-free.

The point of me telling this part of my life was to explain that I had to change how I worked – I needed to hire.

But, instead, people flooded me with “advice”.

  • Drink more lemon juice, it’ll help regulate your blood acid.
  • Eat more mushrooms – proven to help against cancer.
  • Take this testosterone supplement, you’ll need it now that you have one less “plum”.

Now, aside from the fact that all this advice is bollocks – it’s also not at all what I wanted to talk about.

My oncologist, cancer support nurse, kidney surgeon, and nursing team have done a phenomenal job.

I’m unlikely to throw all their experience, advice, education, and research away because you once read a blog article about how cayenne pepper has anti-cancer properties.

And, whether you like it or not, I’m now less likely to believe the rest of your advice because you’ve strayed outside your lane.

If you ever feel that people aren’t taking you seriously or you’re not treated with authority on a subject, it’s almost certainly because you’re straying too far from your own lane.

If you feel that your credibility is in question, it’s because you’re not sticking to your lane.

Think about this from the other perspective.

Imagine me talking to my oncologist and him explaining to me about email marketing.

Would you be more likely to take him seriously when he talks about something outside of his wheelhouse?

This is where it gets difficult though.

Because for all I know, he could be a world class email marketing expert.

But that’s not what I know him for.

Can you see the difference?

I have put him in a box. He knows about cancer.

I have my marketing coach in a box. He knows about ads.

I have my nutritionist in a box. She knows about nutrition.

When you stray outside of the lane that other people have put you in, it erodes YOUR credibility.

Harsh, unfair, prejudiced- yes.

But resoundingly true.

Whether it’s fair or “right” is irrelevant.

We are put in boxes in people’s minds and they don’t like it when we stray outside those boxes.

We all do it. We all have it done to us.

After YEARS of knowing someone, yes, we see them as complex and nuanced individuals with lots of experience in lots of areas.

But that takes time, relationship building, trust, and lots of interaction.

Every time I have attempted to talk about health or fitness or diet or philosophy, it gets lower views, less interaction, lower open and click rates.

The cold hard reality is that people are subscribed to me for a reason.

If I talk about things outside of that initial subject, they lose interest and I lose credibility.

McDonalds has tried doing pizza.

Pizza Hut tried doing fine dining.

Microsoft tried doing Zune.

All three of these were massive massive failures because, again, whether we like it or not – we put people into boxes and we don’t like when they act outside that box.

Lean into it.

Become THE person who talks about short form video content funnels. 

Become THE person who talks about helping gardening businesses land 5 figure contracts.

Become THE person who is known for writing 5 figure proposals in under 8 minutes.

Let everyone else answer questions outside of your wheelhouse.

Because – and if you’ve read this far you get THIS huge reward – when someone who trusts you, asks YOU for YOUR opinion on something, even if it IS outside your lane, they will 100% listen to your feedback and advice.

Don’t be desperate to help and provide value. It’s killing your credibility.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.