Meet the Participants!

Gabrielle, Julia, Priscilla and Raquel offer Free Advice!
Belo Horizonte, Brazil!
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What inspired you to offer free advice?

First and foremost, we believe in communication! We first started giving advice at the Gratitude Fair in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, last May. We read about Advice4Quarter in Piauí Magazine and wondered how we could apply this experience in Brazil! Since we were at a Gratitude Fair nobody could sell their services, so we offered advice for free! We couldn’t believe it when people actually stopped by to talk to us! It happened so quickly!


What have you learned from the advice experience?

We've learned that people can connect to total strangers. We all have questions and uncertainties and as social beings we rely on people to help us figure them out.


What does the word “advice” mean to you?

We have this idiom in Brazil, which explains that if advice were a good thing, people would not give it away for free. So, ultimately every decision we make is a lonely, particular process. Advice is given by people who are not really experiencing the situation but who wish to  practice listening and empathy skills.


We tend to rely on like-minded people when seeking advice. We do this because we trust people who share our beliefs and especially when they further reinforce them. We also believe that like-minded people may know what's better for us rather than friends or relatives who may lie because they don't want to hurt us! Receving advice from a stranger provides people with the opportunity to see the bigger picture instead of just hearing what they may want to hear. This may be more helpful in the long run.




Ryan offers Free Advice!
Melbourne, Australia!

What inspired you to offer free advice?

I had a dream I was holding a cardboard sign, in the middle of a busy city street, that said "Free Advice". The thought excited me and I wondered what would happen if I did it; it would be an interesting experiment in people's reactions to someone wanting to give something so personal, without expecting anything tangible in return. I started offering free advice a few weeks later, and after that first experience, I knew I wasn’t going to stop.


What have you learned from the advice experience?

Every time I offer Free Advice, I learn something new. Each interaction provides me with the opportunity to look inside myself and think about my own experiences in a different way. Recognising effective communication techniques with different kinds of people has been an incredible learning experience. I've realised that even within the English language, people speak different languages, and I adjust the words I use and how I use them in order to be heard. I've learned that a lot of people struggle with similar challenges and that listening to people’s problems validates their experiences in a meaningful way. I've learned to not take peoples fears, judgments or stories about who they think I am, personally. I've learned how to create a safe, nurturing and present space and invite others in with the hope that they are able to see that their vulnerability is met with honesty and compassion. It's a continual learning experience, just like life, and perhaps that is why I need to keep doing it. 


What does the word “advice” mean to you?

Free Advice to me is the change I can be in this world. The very concept of it defies so many of the social norms that many of us have been programmed to believe about interactions with people that we're sharing space with. I hope that I am able to help whoever comes to talk to me by giving them a different light to their challenging situation. I also do it for all the people who I get a smile from, those who walk by curious, and those who ask me why?: "To demonstrate that we're all having human experiences and just because we're "strangers" doesn't mean we cannot connect."




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© 2012 by Lisa Podell