Jersey Jack – March 2016

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Listen to the Experts?    

Find Your Own Middle Ground: Learn from Success As Well As Failure

Jack Guarnieri

Jack Guarnieri

by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball & PinballSales.com

Our world is seemingly filled with problems and “experts” at every twist and turn telling us how to do something the “right way.” Social media sites, bloggers and the guy at the hardware store are all experts. Everybody is Cliff Clavin (Millen­nials can Google him), and if they don’t know how to dazzle you with their brilliance, they can baffle you with their…well, (Millennials can Google that, too).

How do we navigate through all of these experts in our daily lives? Common sense seems like a good place to start.

Our guard goes up or down depending on who the “expert” is. We weigh our dealings with them and ask what other people think about them. We instantly go to Google, LinkedIn and other social media sites to see who they are and what (they say) they’ve accomplished. And it’s fine to listen to experts. Consider their opinion and apply it to your problem or situation as needed.

Sometimes, there will be  a cost to seeking the advice of an expert. I’m lucky. I have a lawyer friend who dispenses advice to me at no charge. I’ve also spoken to lawyers who charge almost $1,000 per hour and their advice was no better than what I got for free. Some people base the value of what they received on how much they paid for it. That’s not always a good gauge.

Some experts claim to be so because of their longevity in their field. It’s assumed that if you do something for a long enough time, you know what you’re doing. That’s also not always true. Sometimes, the reason those people have done whatever it is for so long is that they’re just too stubborn –– or lack the drive and/or ability –– to try something new.

Let’s look at The Wizard in the Wizard of Oz as an expert. He solved complicated problems with simple solutions.

The journey to see the Wizard to seek his expertise in solving problems took many twists and turns, but in the end, the solutions to the characters’ problems were always within their own grasp! Stanley Arnold said: “Every problem has in it the seeds of its own solution.” But if you don’t think there’s a problem, you’ll never look for a solution! Of course, experts will also tell you that only a fool would be his own doctor or lawyer.

If you search for books on management or sales, you will find scores of titles written by experts. When relating insights from their experience, I think including information on their mistakes and failures often provides better learning experiences than their successes.

Over the years, I’ve started multi-million dollar companies with nothing but an idea, and I’ve failed at times within those endeavors. I keep going, pick and choose what advice to listen to and whom to trust. I always have an open mind and never believe that I know it all. Some­times I try to forget everything I know, just so I can be open to new ideas. I’m still learning every single day from everyone around me, from strangers I meet to so-called experts. With each, I take the time to learn and sift, panning for the nuggets of gold.

People have a hard time talking about their failures, but I want to stress that in those failures are the seeds for success. History is full of famous failures … Here are six of the most-often mentioned:

1. Albert Einstein: He wasn’t able to speak until he was almost 4 years old and his teachers said he would “never amount to much.”

2. Walt Disney: He was fired from a newspaper for “lacking imagination” and “having no original ideas.”

3. Steve Jobs: At 30 years old, he was left devastated and depressed after being unceremoniously removed from the company he started.

4. The Beatles: Rejected by Decca recording studios who said “we don’t like their sound –– they have no future in show business.”

5. Michael Jordan: After being cut from his high school basketball team, he went home, locked himself in his room and cried.

6. Oprah Winfrey: She was demoted from her job as a news anchor because she “wasn’t fit for television.”

In those cases, the “experts” dispensed that advice or made those decisions were very wrong. No matter what the experts tell you, if you’re determined to make something happen, you can! I know that from personal experience. It works for those who are determined and want to learn from everyone around them, not just the experts.


Jack Guarnieri started servicing electro-mechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999, PinballSales.com, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011 he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at jack@ jerseyjackpinball.com.

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