New Home Forums Community, Engagement & Gamification On bullshit, expertise and transformation

6 replies, 5 voices Last updated by  Andy Freist 7 years, 3 months ago
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    Lisa R

    Wow, just read this at 99u and it was a really stern reminder for me about why I’m doing what I’m doing.

    Happily, I already have my customer at the heart of my project. I’m here to help them transform, and what motivates me is the thought of their success stories, and the hope of creating the lifestyle I want in the process. I don’t care a hoot if I get ‘recognised’ as an expert.

    But I do have a little worry about ‘seen’ to be a bullshitter. On the one hand this taps in to the fear I expressed way back at Reflection Pond: who do I think I am to be claiming to be some kind of expert in this field? There are people way better qualified than me to write an online career change programme. On the other hand I remember Brad and Andy, sharing with us that as well as leading us up the mountain they’re trekking to launch summit themselves. Their honesty and openness about this has totally refreshed my mind on who can claim to be an expert, what ‘expert’ actually means, and the difference between claiming to be an expert and claiming to be a leader.

    The thing that irks me about this article is that although it attacks the people who are only in the game because they want to be perceived as experts (i.e. how they’re perceived is at the centre of their work, rather than the transformation of the people they serve), and I love it for that, it seems to fall down a little for me on the question of who’s ‘allowed’ to be an expert. After all, who is it that the author thinks should give permission?

    Thought this might trigger some interesting conversation over here.



    Dr.Wayne Buckhanan

    Hmm, I have the framing of reading the article after reading your comments, so I certainly saw different things than you did.

    Reading beyond the rant, Blanda seems to be placing the value on those doing the work and those who can report clearly on those who do the work. Does that mean we must all be perfect before we publish — no way.

    I see value in starting where you are and reporting on your peers and aspirational group. The refinement I get from Blanda is to make sure you pick that aspirational group carefully and his criteria are that they are “People actually shipping ideas, launching businesses, doing creative work, taking risks and sharing first-hand learnings.”

    As far as who is “allowed” to be an expert, Blanda had a subtle little component at the end about internal versus external validation. He missed a chance to point out that we can focus on the internal validation first, and have that confirmed by the outside world, rather than just getting caught up in “going viral.”

    The way to learn to do something is to do it poorly at first and learn from your mistakes. I’d hate for people to throw out the aspect of using what works from the wider field just because it feels too derivative. Reference the giants whose shoulders you stand on — just make sure there is something of substance in those “giants.”

    Thanks for sharing the article and getting this thread started. I’m interested in other people’s views and how the conversation will develop.


    Bradley Morris
    Mountain Guide

    Thanks so much for sharing this article @lisa.russell. I really appreciate the author’s perspective and would say, I agree in a lot of ways.

    There seems to be a lot of people out there who are trying to earn their authority by making fancy memes, quoting gandhi, posting pictures of themselves doing yoga poses in nature and regurgitating what famous visionary thinkers have said in the past.

    As I become more active in online communities, I can see it plain as day. Everyone wants to have a following and anyone who wants a following is wanting it for the wrong reasons: Validation, to Sell them stuff and Fame.

    No person who is truly out for the betterment of humanity, the world or their customer is seeking to grow their following. They are seeking to serve the people who need what they have to offer. Period. There’s a subtle, but HUGE difference.

    Now, I must also say. I started as a bullshitter. (true story)

    I had an “awakening experience” at the age of 20’ish and the next thing I knew, six months later I was speaking in front of high school students telling them how to live their lives.  Then shortly thereafter, our video The Gratitude Dance accidentally went viral and the next thing we knew, we (my buddy and I) were “Experts on Gratitude” and were touring North America speaking.

    Shortly after that, we got a book deal with Hay House, a fat advance payment, popular radio show and we were scheduled to speak in front of 10,000 people at the I Can Do It Conference in Las Vegas.

    All this happened within a 18-months of my rock bottom awakening experience. I still had very little life experience and definitely was no expert in gratitude or life. 

    Then a week before we were supposed to speak in Vegas, we got a call from Louise Hay and they were pulling our book from being published because an author in Hay House didn’t want it to be published. Just like that, all our momentum was sucked from our sales and the fantasy we were creating came crashing down. Bye-Bye book, radio show, tours, momentum. Back to me just being me. 

    With all that being said though. I wouldn’t change a thing. My ups-downs, hardships, challenges, short-lived fame and everything from then to now was perfect.

    As they say: Teach what you most need to learn.

    Me stepping into the spotlight as a teacher accelerated my learning curve and evolution exponentially. If I would have waited until I received the approval of some master teacher or University, I would not be here.

    Most of the world is sitting around waiting for permission and I say power to the ones who are willing to give it to themselves, step up and claim it.

    Sure there will be ass holes, fakes, con artists, etc who are doing it for the money or fame. But whatever. Let them, because we have no idea the hard lessons that’ll be thrust upon their experience that may mould them into their ultimate selves. That’s what happened to me and I have to believe it can happen to others.

    I think if we spent less time comparing ourselves to others, caring what other people think about us and hoping to somehow be “discovered” or lifted up to the next level by some unseen person or force, and we spent more time mastering our craft, seeking to serve and creating the visions we have in our head, then I think we’ll all get further, faster and have more fun.

    No matter what, the entrepreneurial path is going to be a struggle.
    No matter what, there are always going to be people who are douchebags in every industry.

    All we can do is know ourselves, be true to ourselves and live, create and sell by our core values.
    I have to believe that by living in alignment in this way, I will inspire others to do the same.


    Lisa R

    Bradley – that was the most awesome post. Thank you for sharing your story. So in awe of how you guys are prepared to ‘drop the facade’ and be so real with us all here.



    Penny Claringbull

    This is a great discussion. I often feel out of alignment with much of the self-development industry because it feels like a hall of mirrors, endless reflecting the same messages that I want to believe but struggle with. And then I feel insecure and out of step because I just can’t speak that language without feeling weird.

    It may be that one of the reasons I feel so out of alignment with the endlessly recursive success stuff I read online is one of culture. There is so much focus on the individual and individual achievement in US culture and it dominates the internet. It’s like politics and poverty and demography and homelessness has nothing to do with structural disadvantage. You can overcome anything if you believe hard enough! Rah Rah! Just follow my 3 step formula and you can live in a mansion and drive a Lamborghini and never worry about money again!

    I think that’s rubbish and it obscures the mechanisms by which populations are kept unhealthy, uneducated and poor. I think that many people would be better served if the coaching industry encouraged them to get out there, get vocal, protest and take on the powers that be. Instead of practicing ‘The Secret’ or whatever.

    It’s basically a focus on ‘me’ rather than ‘us’, but we’re all shaped by us.

    But then I take heart, because if we deliver our courses out of our own genuine lived experience, and with the desire to share something that helped us personally rather than something that sounds cool/is what everyone else is doing, then I think we’ll be fine. Because we’ll be happy with who we are regardless and won’t need to go out there with a megaphone drumming up business. Better to let it unfold naturally and from a grounded place.


    Dr.Wayne Buckhanan

    Penny, I appreciate you bring out that theme. I agree that personal development folks tend to ignore the cultural scaffolding that is in place to lift us up or hold us down.

    I don’t intend to go protesting in the streets, but I certainly will be incorporating scaffolding into my courses.

    Thanks for the reminder to make that point explicit.


    Andy Freist
    Mountain Guide

    For me, the important thing to be honest and genuine about your abilities and knowledge as a leader/teacher/guide.

    There is inherent value in the idea of “learning out loud” – which on many levels is exactly what we are doing with The Great eCourse Adventure. We are not “experts” in marketing, gamification, engagement, community building, etc. But we ARE actively creating, exploring, sharing and learning. We are taking action to solve real problems in unconventional ways. And we are relaying what we learn along the way.

    As leaders, we can run into trouble when we start claiming expert status, when in reality we may just be learning out loud.

    There are no pre-requisite to be an effective leader and teacher.

    But it takes YEARS of experience and experiements to be an expert.

    EXPERience + EXPERiments = EXPERt

    As the leaders of this community, we don’t have ALL the answers.

    But we do have the drive and commitment to TEST our ideas, FIND the answers we seek, TRY new things and SHARE our discoveries with our tribe.

    Be where you’re at. Be genuine. Try new things. Support your people. Be honest when you make a mistake. This is how true progress happens.

    Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Don’t be a bullshitter.

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