This was a post I did on LinkedIn.
I love technology as much as anyone I know. I was the first person I know to have an iPhone, listen to podcasts and completely disengage with all humanity, including my wife and daughter, due to the rise of YouTube. My mom bought us a TRS 80 when I was about 11 and ever since that moment, sitting there trying to figure out how to program BASIC — and failing - or uploading pong from an audio tape, I’ve been hooked on monitors. I have the exact same issues everyone seems to have these days, which is an vague, itching boredom whenever I can’t duck away to add a vignette to my cloud photo or track my miles, even if I’m just walking in circles like a mental patient.
I get it.
But something about the latest tech wave – and particularly Periscope – has made me question whether it might be time to jump out the the high tech, interconnected window and happily land with a splat. The issue I have at this moment is the Rise of the Guru. Or, as I like to put it, the “everyone’s an expert” movement. In the beginning, only the dorkiest of the dorks were podcasting and only the loudest of the loud were heavy into online marketing. In the case of the dorks, these blessed fanatics were wonderful resources to have if you craved in-depth stories about Disneyland history, vintage Citroens or Avid editing tricks. Sort of like the ham radio crowd only online. The Leo La Porte thing. Real experts so crazed with wonder about their subjects they just gave it away. The second category – the online salesmen – were the web 1.0 version of late–night used car salesmen, imploring us to “learn the system” or “get fit fast.” They were easy to ignore if you didn’t give a rat’s ass about having a system and preferred a little extra lard around the midsection. Just don’t click “buy now” and you were relatively safe.
Then came the second wave. They were a little more interesting. For me, it was Ted Talks, The Moth and Seth Godin that caught my attention. Now all kinds of smartypantses were bubbling up online — and many of them were very interesting. The ideas were more in-depth, the insights new, and the magic of having them all on your laptop or in your earbuds was a private joy. But somehow you still felt like you were an insider.
But in the last year or two, I’ve started to notice something a little disconcerting. Now everyone’s an expert.
With the rise of personal branding, Andy Warhol’s 15 minute line has turned into something even he wouldn’t have predicted. In the future, everyone will be an expert. And not just for 15 minutes. Forever. And all you needed to become an expert was the balls to call yourself one. Business leadership morphed into something called “thought leadership.” That phrase alone is hysterical if it wasn’t taken so seriously.
“What do you lead?”
The marketing world has been hit particularly hard by this typhoon of bullshit. Roofs have been torn off by a steady, screaming hot air of entrepreneurial insight. And 87% or this advice is being doled out by people whose business is literally telling people how to do business.
Now don’t get me wrong. I listen to the stuff regularly and have gotten some useful information from it. But at least I think it’s ridiculous and I’m slightly embarrassed. And, to be fair, there are some brilliant minds giving away incredible advice (thank you Seth, Gary Vee, Michael Hyatt, etc). But that said, I would bet that 70% of the business “tactics” I’ve considered have come from some website created by a "thought leader” or “guru" who never actually ran a business with other humans other than selling “bootcamp” courses to tell other aspiring “thought leaders" how to run businesses selling courses on how to run businesses. And they all appear on each other’s podcasts. It's the business guru version of Liam Neeson making the talk show rounds after the latest “Taken" sequel. The same phrases are gobbled up by all the experts. Let’s unpack that. Let’s examine the tactics that go with that strategy. Proactively simplify team building information (ok fine. I got that last one here. http://www.atrixnet.com/bs-generator.html)
And with Periscope (and yes, I’m becoming addicted), the experts are now in my car. Uninvited. Every ten minutes or so another expert blogger turned podcaster turned Periscoper pops up on my Iphone with a ding to tell me he’s live and wants to tell me how to blog better. As if I didn’t already feel shame enough about not being a blogger or a thought leader, now I’m compelled to listen LIVE to a complete stranger tell me I’m not blogging right and if I want to “grow my tribe” I need to start niching down to reach other influencers. It’s enough to make me want to pull over, leave the keys in my car and just … walk away. It's too hard. I'm too late. What's the point.
But I don’t.
First he thanks everyone who is listening, which takes forever. Then he starts talking, Periscoping away, talking about Periscope and why it’s the greatest way to reach your audience. My audience? I have an audience? I thought that audience was all in my head and only when I’m playing "Cinnamon Girl" on my out-of-tune acoustic.
But it must be true. He’s an expert, right? And I’m listening to him live in my car instead of Radiohead. What do I know?
So, after thinking about it long and hard, I’m seriously considering becoming an expert. In fact, screw it.
I’m Dave McVeigh. And I’m an expert.
Wow. That was easy!