Always take someone's life experiences into account

Imagine one founder: He worked very hard all his life to get where he is today. He's a very charismatic person and people tend to become really motivated when they work with him. For this reason, when asked for advice about employee management he says something like: "give more than you take and people will work happily".

Now imagine another founder. He's not very charismatic but very skilled at what he does. He likes to push people and force them to do their very best. At this company, there is a high burnout-rate but the work is done nevertheless and the startup grows exponentially. When asked about how he manages employees so well he says: "Force them to do their very best".

From an outside view, both companies might be equally successful (in terms of growth, maybe not employee happiness) and both pieces of advice make complete sense in their respective context.

However, one thing I've learned is that no matter how successful a person is, you should always take their previous life experiences into account when receiving advice. What has worked for them may not be remotely applicable to yourself. That's why I love the saying: "Don't follow advice blindly"* because it touches this very subject.

For this reason, I also love to read auto-biographies (e.g Principles by Ray Dalio), because they give you very good hints about a person's life experiences and what led them to believe in different things.

On the flip-side, sometimes people do stupid things exactly because of their previous life experiences and again, you should take that into account and be more empathic towards everyone.

All of this might seem very obvious but in my experience people often unconsciously follow advice blindly, especially when talking to very successful people they often take advice at face value.

*On a side note, I think sayings like these often have much more meaning than is obvious, humans have been around for quite some time now and again, their life experiences have led them to come up with this advice. For everything someone says, there was a whole life that preceded, along with very specific experiences that only this person ever had. The gist is that humans are much more complex than you might think.