What Separates the “Gurus” From the Rest of Us

Guru 4 gurusWhat separates the “Gurus” from the rest of us?



Nothing? I know enough smart people in the social media and communications spaces to know that there are many people not singled out as “micro-celebrities” in their field who are quite capable of being superstars. Heck, they are superstars through what they do. When I tell people to blog or produce other content despite the intimidation of competing with a known “expert” in their industry, I simply say “Chris Brogan is not smarter than you (or insert name of favorite expert that works for you).” If you have any ideas at all, you are capable of sharing them in some form- teach, blog, speak, podcast, comment, rant at a Speaker’s Corner. It doesn’t matter, express an opinion, relate an experience, share what you are learning. Snap! You are a guru (I know, we are supposed to hate that term, but I actually hate all of them, so no matter).

Everything? The one big difference is just doing it. This is where you need to eat a can of ego spinach and just bull your way up to the podium. The best know the difference between adding value and just hearing the sound of their own voice- but at some point you need to be comfortable with the sound of your own voice.

You don’t have to be the best or the most popular. But you do have to do it. I learned very early on, when I chose to be a radio major in  college, that you have to put yourself out there. Humility is great, shyness holds you back.

Go ahead. Say something.


  1. Nothing gets accomplished if you don’t take action. So this is true… everyone is smart but it is how they use their skills which sets apart the doers from the rest.

  2. Jackson Wightman

    BEAUTIFUl. I wonder sometimes if these “experts”, toiling in a field that more or less did not exist only a few yrs ago are “experts” in bilking firms out of cash. Seems to me – and full disclosure, I am pretty new to social media – this is ENTIRELY possible. In many fields “expertise” takes awhile.

    This is not to detract from the great work of Brogan, Solis, Mitch Joel, Defren etc. But there are lots of pretenders and the situation is so fluid that we can really learn from almost anyone – which is really cool.

  3. You’ve done a great job of enabling and empowering those with ideas and yen, while cautioning against random or self-focused ‘spewage.’ (its end of work day, I can’t be more articulate).

    I waffle between wanting and doing more, and asking myself “Why would anyone care?”

    I’ll take your post as encouragement. Thanks for confronting the awkward space. @heatherrast

  4. Thanks all for coming by!

    Jamie- true, sometimes the only difference is a little action spurred by confidence.

    Jackson- there are snake oilers out there, but I wouldn’t put that group you name in that bucket (disclosure– I consider them all friends at some level, at least professionally). But yes– you can learn from anyone.

    Heather- “Why would anyone care?” – I sometimes think of a post and think it’s a trifle, not worth hitting “publish.” I actually thought that about this post, but remembered that every other time I did, the post in question ended up getting a great response. So far, that record is holding.

  5. pr

    What separates guru from the rest of us?

    Key massages
    Sense of humor
    Different angle
    Written skills
    Extroverted personality
    Moderating skills … etc

  6. Woody Allen said that 80 percent of success is just showing up. 80 percent of success in social media “personal branding” is cranking out the awesome content.

    But in order to develop compelling, original content day after day, you need to participate in experiences and engage with people in a way that teaches you and helps find you wisdom. Since you’re spending 80 percent of your time banging out the content and 80 percent of your time participating in life, you’re always overbooked. Some people enjoy this. There will be time later for slow, leisurely days at the nursing home, they assume.

    The content is always the thing. Merely having the chutzpah to get up in front of a microphone and open your mouth isn’t enough to attract and hold the limited attention of social media ADD’rs. You need a steady flow of experiences continuously adding to an overall level of wisdom that illuminates and entertains.

    (And don’t forget to get the good stuff down right after it happens, because you’ll forget.)

    So, coffee. Or tea.

  7. Love the post, it is so true. Just like when you talk to C level people in business, we are all just people. We are all unique and all know something that others may not. It is how you carry yourself that makes the difference.

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