Insightful takes on scaling your business

Learn from the screw-ups of your fellow entrepreneurs on Growth Quarters, our new sub-brand

Listen to my stories, not my advice

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

CEO and co-founder, TNWBoris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and (show all) Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.


When people come to me for advice on how to start or grow a company — or on entrepreneurship in general — my first piece of advice is always this: Ignore my advice. 

Why? Because the worst kind of advice is from people (like me) who have done something a certain way, and because it worked, now consider themselves to be the leading authority and in a position to ‘give advice’ to younger people who are probably smarter than themselves.

When somebody starts off their story with “You know what you should do,” my advice is to cover your ears and run for the nearest exit. The thing is: What worked for me, in my time, with my background, my partners, and in my industry, is most likely not going to work for you, with your background, in your industry, and with your partners.

Credit: Beto Ruiz Alonso
Picture of me, not telling you how to do things.

Now there are two exceptions. First one is of course if you’re looking for incredibly specific information, like getting detailed advice on how to structure a corporation or how to apply for a tax break. In that case, sure, go and talk to an expert and listen when they give you advice.

The second exception is about experiences and stories. I don’t like telling people what to do, but what I do like is to tell stories. And I think stories can be inspiring, entertaining, and useful.

I might not be able to tell you how to negotiate a specific deal — but I can tell you how I once negotiated a deal. I can tell you how I screwed up, or what action I took at the time that saved a deal. These stories contain useful information, and it will be up to you — the reader or listener — to decide which parts of my story fit your situation. Because you are the ultimate expert of your own domain, and only you can decide ‘this is what I should do.’

We wanted to find a way to collect stories like these and make them accessible to as many people as possible. That’s why we’re launching TNW’s newest sub-brand: Growth Quarters. We’re going to invite people to tell insightful stories about their professional experiences, and what lessons they learned. They’re not professional advisors or consultants but people like you and me, with a story to tell. 

Credit: Janus van den Eijnden
Growth Quarters grew out of our incredibly popular TNW Conference track.

They’re people with experiences, who made mistakes, but also achieved things and you can cherry-pick lessons from their stories and apply to your own situation. My guess — and our philosophy for Growth Quarters — is that this will be more useful than listening to self-proclaimed experts who tell you exactly how you should conduct your professional life. 

If I were you, I’d start reading Growth Quarters religiously… except that I’m not that kind of guy who tells you what to do. 

So the only logical thing I can tell you is simply this: I read some of the stories that we are publishing soon, and that I was inspired, entertained, and I picked up a few things that made me reevaluate my workflow. Getting fresh perspectives and interesting stories helps me grow as a manager, entrepreneur, and human being. That’s been my experience, now it’s time for you to find what works for you.

If you’d like to share your own story and insights, then head on over to our submission platform and send us your byline!

Published February 6, 2020 — 12:30 UTC