Home » Planning » Ignore Conventional Wisdom and Do Your Own Research

Now 51, Goldstein started researching sugar with the same rigor he’d apply to a powerful investment. He read scientific papers, called experts, and recruited a team. He says he’s put well over $10 million into the mints, which he calls Crave Crush, and that there are clear parallels between making sweet suppressants and picking stocks. “When you invest, you have to look at the facts and ignore what everybody else says or does,”he says. “With this, I didn’t care about how anybody else said anything would work. A lot of people told me it wouldn’t work. There was always a ton of skepticism. I just basically ignored them.” Bloomberg Businessweek, March 27, 2017, Technology Unsweetened.

“It won’t work.” Boy, did I hear that a lot in my career. Luckily, most of the time I was working from experience so when someone said that it wouldn’t work, I already knew that it would. For those times I was breaking new ground, I always did my homework and I would deep dive into what I wanted to do. Often, many times when we knew nothing, we just did what made logical sense. I generally knew we were on to something when the logical thing to do was contrary to what we had always done in the past, when we had regularly failed (i.e. typically had not delivered on time).

The trick was always to look past common wisdom and corporate culture even when everyone was encouraging us to do it the same old way. Doing things differently just about always caused people to feel uncomfortable. I even recall one time when we had come up on our deadline and we were actually finished and ready to deliver to the customer. Senior management and their immediate subordinates, who were always adamantly against even the hint of a slip in the schedule, got cold feet and decided to slip the delivery for a week. Wow, that was surreal. We delivered on time anyway, by ignoring senior management’s direction, and the customer was delighted. Management had never delivered on time before and they didn’t feel comfortable doing it even when we finally could.

What are you doing that ignores conventional wisdom but is based on solid research?

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