It is a lot of work being a guru

On a long flight home, I opened a sample copy of Dan Schawbel’s Personal Branding Magazine.

I thought, Dan branded himself as the Personal Branding Guy. He’s built a persona around it and delivers reliable, consistent information about how to build a personal brand.

I thought, I could build my own brand. Then I reflected on some personal brands I know:

Seth Godin – the bestselling author and blogger
Chris Brogan – the (beyond) social media guru
Gary Vaynerchuk – the self-made millionaire who found his passion and leveraged it
Chris Pirillo – the live-streaming tech gnome online since 1992
Brian Solis – the PR 2.0 guy expounding on the convergence of PR and social media
Ted Rubin – the Return on Relationships guy who answers every tweet
Mari Smith – the Facebook marketing expert
Danny Brown – the helpful, insightful marketing Canadian with a brogue and a heart
Daneboe – the Annoying Orange guy with other gag reels
The Oatmeal – the funny Web-savvy cartoonist
John Jantsch – the World’s Most Practical Small-Business Expert
Mack Collier – the guy behind #blogchat on Twitter

I have been noodling around with a brand I could own. I know the answers to The First Three Questions. A URL for my concept is available and I’m not aware of anyone else in the space. I began to think of site design and categories. I thought, I really need to get a Web cam, a scrim, and some good lighting.

Then I got discouraged.

It’s a lot of work being a guru. I have a number of outside interests, a full-time job I enjoy, and two small boys I keep close.

How often would I blog? How often would I vlog? How much editing would I need to do? Would I run out of ideas for content? Do I really want to fly around the country to attend and/or present at conferences?

I thought, the worst thing I could do would be to build a following and then pull back or stop because “I got really busy at work” or some such thing.

And so I put “being a guru of some kind” back on the shelf. For now.

Have you had a similar conversation with yourself? Did you draw a different conclusion?

And, if any of the aforementioned read this post and care to comment, I’d be interested to know, what was it like when you decided to forge ahead? Any second thoughts or advice for the rest of us?


  1. it’s like hang gliding. You can have the equipment, and the know-how, and the courage, but you have to be on the lookout for the right weather conditions.

    Sometime the wind you are looking for can be a speaking engagement or interview; the chance to write an article or op-ed piece for a business publication; or being offered the chance to teach a seminar at a high-profile conference. Or there might be a national or regional business story that suddenly puts you in the position of being the expert.

    Catching that outside support makes your own talents and efforts go higher, further, and attract more attention. You’ll know it when you see it.

  2. Thanks, Karen. I guess my point is I can “set myself up” for “guru success” should it happen but I’m struggling with the time commitment. With everything I’ve got going on, posting here even weekly sometimes can be a challenge. Not the stuff of go-to gurus, in my opinion.

  3. Hey there Joe,

    Man, I’m late to this party – my bad, sorry!

    Thanks for the kind words – and yes, the brogue is definitely there. 😉

    Not sure about the Guru angle, but then I guess that’s been covered enough times by others on the why’s and when’s of using guru in descriptions. Although I am very touched and grateful for your description. 🙂

    It’s a challenge for sure. There are a ton of books, blogs, videos and more on what you should or need to do. Some of them are great; some not so much. The thing is, what’s great advice for one person could be the worst possible advice for another.

    The one thing I’d say is this – make sure you plan out where you want to be in 6, 12, 18 and 24 months, and what you’ll need to do to get there. This can be financially, resources-wise, investors, and much more.

    Having this map will give you an idea of how much of your time is going to be needed. Then just double that 😉

    It’s not easy, but I guess everyone says that. Family time is obviously key, too – how much do you want to spend and how will you prioritize family over work.

    Again, it’s not easy and it needs to be constantly watched and reacted to.

    Best of luck, sir!

  4. For me, personally, if I were in a marketing agency-type profession, I could see *maybe* making the “guru thing” work. As a marketer in the medical device industry, however, I can’t be in two places at once. Thanks for the input, Danny.

  5. Forget about being a guru and just be yourself. People will still admire you. 🙂

  6. You made me smile, Rose. (Still smiling.) I’m putting some thoughts together on a new information product and, while it doesn’t position me as a “guru,” there does need to be compelling support that the author is knowledgeable. “Guru,” I guess, is a shortcut, since others are doing the advertising for you.

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