Are You An Information Addict?

“Let’s have lunch,” DK said in his email. “There’s something I need to talk to you about.”

Two days later, we were eating chopped chicken salads at City Oyster on Atlantic Avenue. We talked a bit about family news, but it was clear that he wanted to talk about a question that was on his mind.

The question: Should he spend $100,000 on the highest level of an internet marketing program that he had been looking at?

“It looks really good,” he said. “But I’m not sure it makes sense for me to invest that kind of money.”

“A hundred grand is a lot of money,” I said.

“But you get an awful lot for it,” he explained. “They do all the technical stuff for you, which I’m not very good at. All I have to do is come up with the product idea.”

The waitress filled our drinks.

“So if you invest in this marketing program… what kind of products would you sell?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he said.

“How about this: If you had all the money you could ever need, how would you spend your time? What would you do to give your life purpose?”

“That’s a good question,” he said. “Actually, I like the idea of purposefulness. Maybe I’d do something along those lines.”

I told him that if I were he, I’d not spend a hundred grand on a program that gave me marketing and operational tools until I knew what I was going to do with them.  READ MORE

“If you know what you are going to do,” I said, “it makes it much easier and faster to learn the marketing and technical stuff. Because you can apply all the theories and principles to something concrete and specific.”

“But signing up for this program will get me going,” he said. “That’s what I need to do. It’s like you say in your book: Ready, Fire, Aim.”

“But Ready comes before Fire,” I said.

“Look,” I said. “You asked me to lunch because you value my advice. I’m giving you my best advice right now. Before you do anything else, what you need is a product and a good idea about how you are going to sell it.”
“I suppose you are right,” he said.

I could tell that he was disappointed.

“How long have you been investing in programs about internet marketing?” I asked him.

About three years,” he answered.

I asked him which programs he had purchased in the last two years. He rattled off every one that I knew and dozens of others I had never heard of.

“That’s a lot of buying,” I told him.

“Tell me about it,” he said.

“And how much money have you spent on those programs?”

“Tens of thousands. Probably more.”

“And you haven’t actually started to sell anything?”

He admitted that he hadn’t. DK explained that when he reads a promotion pitching a new internet marketing product, he is totally taken in by it. And though he realizes that he’s being seduced by a professional wordsmith, he can’t stop himself from buying it.

“I hear you,” I said. “You are an information junkie.”

“You think?”

“I do.”

“What about you?” he said. “I know that you read every new business book that comes out.”

“I do,” I said. “But I’m not an information junkie. I’m an information user.”

“So what’s the difference?”

The difference, I explained, is huge. The information junkie is addicted to the process of buying information. Although he may delude himself into thinking otherwise, he has no real intention of using the information he buys. The information user, on the other hand, buys information for pragmatic purposes. He uses it to achieve specific goals – to start or grow a business, to learn a new language, to improve his negotiating skills.

The information user makes progress. See him reading a book about nutrition, and there’s a very good chance (if he likes the book) that his eating habits will change in the very near future. The information junkie, in contrast, may have 26 books about nutrition in his bookcase. He may have even read them all… while he was lying on the couch eating potato chips.

The information user consumes information to profit from it. If he invests $100 in learning about some subject, he expects to see a substantial return (material or spiritual) on that investment. The information junkie consumes information like drugs or candy bars. It gives him an immediate rush, and then nothing. That’s why he always needs to buy more.

The information user has long-term expectations. He believes that the knowledge he acquires now will compound over time as he learns more and is in a better position to leverage it for greater benefit. The information junkie is in it for the here-and-now.

If you suspect that you are an information junkie, don’t despair. You can convert yourself into a user by following three rules:

  1. Don’t buy an information product unless you have a very specific idea about how you are going to use it.
  2. When you do buy one, set specific deadlines for studying it and implementing it.
  3. Don’t buy another information product until you have acted on what you learned from the one you already bought.

If you can follow those three simple rules, you’ll learn more, make faster progress, and probably save a lot of money.