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Advice & Advisers

‘We give advice by the bucket, but take it by the grain,’ noted one anonymous sage. There is strange and eerie consensus when it comes to advice. The message is that it is rarely useful and advisers should be tiptoed around as delicately as if they were carriers of a highly infectious disease.

Those who genuinely and supportively profer advice are invariably wrong; and the remainder may be right, but their advice is tainted by their motives. And yet, despite such observations, one of the great modern industries – management consultancy – is advice with invoices attached. Enjoy our selection of advice-laden quips:

– Stuart Crainer


Aesop Greek writer of timeless fables
Never trust the advice of a man in difficulties.
Francis Bacon Elizabethan all-rounder
He that gives good advice, builds with one hand; he that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; he that gives good admonition and bad example, builds with one hand and pulls down with the other.
PJ Bailey American writer
The worst men often give the best advice.
Josh Billings pen name of Henry Wheeler Shaw
Advice is like castor oil, easy to give, but dreadful to take.
Lord Byron Carefree romantic poet
Good but rarely comes from good advice.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge Romantic poet
Advice is like snow – the softer it falls, the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper in sinks into the mind.

Peter Drucker Father of modern management thinking
The contribution I make to a client is basically to be very stupid and very dense; ask simple, fundamental questions; demand that he be thoughtful with the answers; and demand that he makes decisions on what is important. I feel very strongly that a client who leaves my office feeling that he has learned a lot that he didn’t know before is a stupid client; either that, or I haven’t done my job. He should leave the office saying: ‘I know all this – but why haven’t I done anything about it?’

Charles Handy British management guru
A consultant solves other people’s problems. I could never do that. I want to help other people solve their own problems.
Horace Roman poet
Whatever advice you give, be brief.
Lady Mary Montagu Woman of letters
I give myself sometimes admirable advice, but I am incapable of taking it.
Laurence J Peter Canadian creator of the Peter Principle
You don’t need to take a person’s advice to make him feel good – just ask for it.
John Steinbeck American novelist
No one wants advice, only corroboration.
Oscar Wilde Wit
The only thing to do with good advice is pass it on; it is never of any use to oneself.
Thornton Wilder American novelist and playwright
My advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy the ice cream while it’s on your plate.

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