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Frustrated by information overload? I was for a while too – something that reminds me The Simpsons episode in which Mr. Burns offers his trademark “Excellent!”, but when asked what he meant by that, flatly replies “the opposite of what it used to be”.
That’s how I feel about most business gurus today and I’m sick of the amount of crap I’ve had to ignore and overcome just to be able to find a tiny bit of gold in a pile of dirt.
A few discoveries I made along the way to this realization:
1. Just because someone is successful doesn’t mean they can teach others to be
I’m not saying all business gurus are bad. Some of them are smart and know what they are talking about, but too many are just repeating what others have said without understanding the concepts themselves.
Here’s an example: Many people will tell you that you need to hire a coach to help you succeed in business. I’ve even seen coaches say this themselves, but let’s think for a second: if you want to learn to swim, does it make sense for me – someone who knows nothing about swimming – to teach you? Of course not!
That’s why so many business owners hire coaches who have never been in their shoes before, only to be disappointed when they don’t know what they’re doing. So listening to Tony Robbins or other more lifestyle experts when the specific need is for advice on how to build a business may not always be the best idea.
2. Success rarely comes from following the lead of others
I know that’s not what most people want to hear – we all want to find out what worked for others and then copy it. It’s tempting to think you’ll get the same results if you do, but here’s the problem with this approach: it doesn’t work.
We’ve all heard the success stories of tweaking someone else’s formula until it works for them, but in reality, these situations are so rare that—while they can make for great anecdotes—they’re bad business advice. If you want to become an entrepreneur or start your own business, there are better ways to get started than simply copying what has worked for someone else, especially if that someone is in a different industry or market.
Connected: Take the road less traveled to unlock your full potential
3. The “One Hit Wonder” Guru Trap.
I’m sure you’ve seen headlines like “How I Made $100,000 at 27” or “How I Fired My Boss and Started My Own Business.” These articles are all over the place, but very often they are accounts from people who aren’t actually successful and/or written by people who want to be in the spotlight for a brief moment before fading into obscurity. They want their 15 minutes of fame but have no real advice to offer.
It probably won’t surprise you, but most of these gurus are also marketers who sell courses or books that instruct you on how to make money. In short, they have no interest in helping you succeed as long as they can sell you something.
The truth is, most people aren’t built to run own businesses — especially if they are just starting out and don’t yet have the right skills or experience. The result is that you can easily spend thousands of dollars on a course only to find that it doesn’t work for you at all.
4. Mirages Podcast
I’m a big fan of podcasts and favorites include The Tim Ferriss Show and The James Altucher Show, but there’s one kind of podcast I don’t listen to, and I’m far from alone in that preference. In Top Rank Marketing’s summary and analysis of recent surveys, one statistic particularly struck me: Only 4% of respondents indicated they listen to business podcasts.
Why? Because most of them are boring…long, drawn-out, and full of meaningless chatter about the nitty-gritty of running a company. There’s nothing wrong with being passionate about your work, but the bills you get usually aren’t exciting to anyone but the entrepreneurs themselves.
Of course, there are exceptions: Noah Kagan presents is fun because Kagan talks about his personal experience as an entrepreneur – telling stories instead of giving advice.
Connected: The perfect work-life balance starts with saying no.
5. What happens without the noise
I used to be a sponge for the wisdom of the world’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders—I would soak up every word in their books, blogs, podcasts, and videos. I listened to their interviews while making dinner and running around the block—I could even hear them while I slept! But over time, all this listening made me feel like something was missing. It became noise, not a signal – noise from people trying to sell me something or who had a completely different point of view than mine. So, one day I decided to completely stop listening to business gurus and this is what happened:
• I began to think more clearly about my own goals
• My productivity went through the roof
• My creativity flourished
6. Gurus probably don’t know about your industry
We’ve all been there: You’re at a conference and you’re forced to listen to someone talk about how they made millions of dollars selling their product or service. You can’t help but think, “Wow, if I only had this idea, I’d be rich.”
The problem is that he or she probably knows nothing about your industry, but instead has a one-size-fits-all answer for everything, and that’s because these types are often one-size-fits-all — they don’t specialize in anything. So why would you listen to them? The answer is that you probably shouldn’t.
And you know what? If it works for them, great, but it probably won’t work for you because you’re different from them (and everyone else). You have unique challenges and opportunities that only require a unique approach you can create.
Cut your own path
After years of following the advice of experts and trying to emulate their success, I decided there was a better way to do it. By creating your own model, you focus on the only things that really matter—finding your voice, telling your story, and making sure your customers know you exist. Focus on these three things and the rest will take care of itself.
Connected: How to build your own path in business