What are your thoughts on leads?

Never bought them. When I first entered the business, my firm provided free cold leads -- D&B, CoreFacts, etc. Simply business directory leads, although they did have a great deal of information. The firm offered options to buy others. I never did. I was already in the business world, had friends, constituents, etc., so I didn't need cold leads to cold call. After a few months, I decided to learn the hard way, so I did, and I just used what was provided to me.

I don't know anything about leads other than people try and sell how "warm" they are. Personally, I have no idea. Wouldn't know if one supplier was good or bad, or even if there are any good ones, LOL. Sorry, wish I could help.
So let me get this straight because I've been doing it wrong; On THIS forum when someone asks a question that we have no experience with and no knowledge of, we are supposed to reply and tell them we have no idea?

I'm going to be real busy if that's the way it works. I've been limiting my responses to only things that I had some knowledge of OR a funny (to me) comment about.
Lead vendor here:
first option- warm leads through WOM/referrals
second option- self generated
third option- Purchase leads if a- 1&2 are not providing quality enough leads for you or b- you want a consistent flow and don't have time for 1&2

As far as type of leads to purchase, I am happy to share my thoughts on private messages to stay within the community guidelines.
I think the whole lead conversation relies heavily on what type of product you are selling.

Personally I'm 100% commercial p&c, which is fairly niche and specialized.

I bought some leads in the beginning, but most of what I did was self generated. Today it is 100% referral from existing clients and network. I think I'm probably turning away more business today than I was writing when I started.
What are your thoughts on leads? Do you have to buy them? Are they provided to you where you work?

My company provides them to me.
My thoughts are that I like leads. You always have to buy them. No company or IMO provides leads for free.

The pricing may be hidden. But you are paying for them.
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There's a cost of the leads for the company. However, I don't have to buy the unique leads that I receive. I do, however, have to close a certain percentage of leads to keep them.