"You Don't Have to" Series, Independence

You Don’t Have to: Always Listen to ‘Experts’

“No one knows anything. And the trouble with respecting the fact that no one knows anything is that you don’t really have an appreciation of that until you’ve achieved a level of success. And then when you arrive at success and you look back and you’re like, shoot, the only reason that I got here is that I ignored everyone and went on instincts. I wish I would have known to ignore everyone from the beginning because it would’ve just gotten me here faster.” – Casey Neistat

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When I was young and growing up, adults knew everything; they had the answers and they knew what’s best. To me they were, and primarily still are the world’s ‘experts.’ But then supposedly I became an adult myself (when did that happen!?), and all of a sudden I realized that maybe experts don’t have all the answers, and they make mistakes and poor decisions from time to time just like everyone else. Here are some milestone moments in my realization that sometimes your gut feeling can be the best expert you have.

Experts aren’t necessarily acting out of my best interests. In my ‘You Don’t Have to Own a House’ post, I told the story of my visit to a mortgage broker who clearly was trying to get me in to the largest mortgage possible, likely at the personal commission gain for their benefit. I get it: banks want to make money, and they’re top o’ the line product is the home mortgage.

But they didn’t mention the property taxes, insurance, maintenance and other little costs that, on top of the mortgage they were recommending to me, would have buried me in debt for a considerable chunk of my life. No matter what anyone tells me, renting makes sense to me and allows me to live the life I want, so I’ll stick with that for the time being.

Experts can’t always predict the future. On the website Stockchase, financial experts share their fortune-telling-like opinion about publicly traded companies. Before oil prices crashed, a darling of the oil companies was Crescent Point Energy. All of these experts praised Crescent Point as the crown-jewel, no fail investment.

Nearly all the posts read: ‘There’s huge growth in this company,’ and ‘the dividend is very sustainable.’ Once oil prices plummeted, and Crescent Point’s shares followed suit (along with a slashing of the dividend) all of a sudden the opinions read like this: ‘He is not comfortable with this sector at all,’ and ‘He sees more downside.’

No one knows the future, so avoid decisions based on fortune telling or past historical performance.

Experts don’t necessarily do the perfect job. This realization came from my recent experience in the building industry. To most of us, we assume professional builders do the utmost excellent job and our buildings are safe and well put together. But the reality is, there is so much corner-cutting, sneaky cost-saving tricks and poorly done work that I know now to always ask questions, be critical and don’t assume (we all know what happens when you assume) that everything is done as it should.

We are exposed to expert opinions from Dr. So-and-So every day. When your doctor tells you to take such-and-such pill five times a week, we say okay. But remember, there was a day when doctors told us smoking isn’t bad for us.

So to put it simply, always use your brain, and listen to your gut. As Casey Neistat suggests in the quote at the top, you’re gut is probably the most expert you can most often rely on. What feels right? What feels wrong? I suggest seeing where that gets you, but who knows? I’m no expert.

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