Roy is a financial advisor in California who started his business not too many years ago. Through a great contact, he was given the opportunity to begin blogging on simple financial issues for a local Christian radio station that had a rather large reach in his region, but he turned it down. I encouraged him to take it, but he said, “No, that’s really not my demographic, and besides, blogging is not targeted enough.” He went on to give me all his other reasons why social media really was not the right platform for building any kind of business, certainly not financial services.
The opportunity was given to another financial advisor in the area who started blogging educational material. Once his content caught hold, the other financial advisor was given an opportunity to begin hosting a podcast which started gaining regional reach and then more national reach.
Today Roy’s business has stagnated. The other financial advisor’s business is thriving on the back of his reach through the different social media venues that he’s now been invited into. But still today when I talk with Roy, he doggedly has doubled-down on why social media is ineffective, not the future, and why he never should have gone that direction.
Roy is a classic case of confirmation bias that author Annie Duke talked about on a recent episode of the Masters in Business podcast by Bloomberg. Annie Duke is a world champion poker player, but is also a trained psychologist and has applied the lessons that she learned in poker to business and to life with great success. Annie points out that we humans are all designed to want to feel that we are “right” – that being “right” feels good. And so we will go out and find information that supports our case.
For example, if I read in an article that social media is bad and that’s what I believe, then I immediately say, “Yeah! See that? I knew social media was bad!” But if I read something the next day that says social media is good, then I begin to pick it apart. I question the source. I question the research methods. That is a very natural thing for us humans to do. However, it exposes us to what happened to Roy.
Annie Duke says what we can do to avoid this exposure is work on ourselves to the point that “accuracy” feels good instead of being “right.” She says that if our desire is to be accurate, then when we run across information that is contrary to our strongly held opinion, we will weigh it and if it can help us be more accurate, then we are pleased to find something that showed we were not right. Because now we are more accurate.
Rather than trying to show we are right and working to look smart, we should try to be accurate and curious.