Good marketing can make anyone appear to be an expert. They’re not necessarily.
Good marketing can make anyone appear to be any way they want you to think they are. They’re not necessarily the way they appear.
Just because someone has a big following does not mean they know what they’re doing.
Just because someone has a platform does not mean they’re a good teacher for you.
You’ve never heard of some of the wisest people walking this earth, and you never will. Because wisdom does not equal notoriety. Some people are so busy being awesome that they don’t have the time, energy, or desire to be public about it.
(And, of course, being public about your work doesn’t mean you’re not wise, either. It’s simply important to remember that notoriety is not always a result of depth or quality of work.)
Over the past 5 months while stepping back from the day-to-day flow of our business to spend time with our new little babe, I’ve found myself becoming more discerning. About things I want to spend my money on. People I want to spend my time with. And teachers I want to learn from.
I’ve been culling my newsfeed and my inbox and reminding myself of the aforementioned truths, and I’ve come up with the following 6 questions that I’m asking myself about the people I’m following for business or life guidance.
I offer them here to you in case you find them useful, too:
1. Are they working on themselves, questioning their biases, and open to being wrong?
Not everyone is public about the fact that they’re in therapy (though I consider it as critical for health as taking my vitamins and getting good sleep where I can). Not everyone is posting their personal growth journey on the internet, and I’m not saying everyone should. But there are people who you can tell feel like they’ve already arrived and therefore get to be the expert instead of the teacher. And there are other people who get that there is no “there” there and that they’ll be on the journey of self-discovery forever. I’m following the latter.
2. Are their words, images, and content inclusive?
I’ve been waking up to the inequities in our world around sex, race, gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, religion, and more in a BIG way over the last two years or so. And I’ve been waking up to the ways that my business has been part of this in the past and ways we can do better now and moving forward. A platform is a privilege, and with that comes the responsibility to use it to help create the future we desire. For me, that means inclusivity being at the top of the agenda. (I know I’ll continue to screw up in this area, and I’m committed to continuing to learn and do better.) I’m following the people who are using their privilege of a platform (of whatever size) to make the world a better place.
3. Is their content original and/or well credited and documented?
The internet has made it incredibly easy to grab people’s work and share it or “make it your own” without properly citing your sources or documenting what you’re talking about. I’m a nerd at heart, and my time in academia makes me a real stickler about citing your sources and honoring those who have come before you and the ways their work has built a foundation for your work. Teachers who are dressing up other people’s content in a new outfit and parading it around as their own are not worth my time.
4. Do they have a life like you want-ish?
Listen, nobody’s life is perfect and nor should we expect ours to be. It’s all a process. We’re all working on stuff all the time. (See question 1.) That being said, if I’m taking business advice from someone, it’s important that they have a business that looks something like the kind of business I’d like to have. If I’m taking relationship advice from someone, it’s best if they have the kind of relationship I’d like to have. I want to learn from those who have walked the path before me.
5. Do your values align?
There are incredible marketing teachers out there who I know I could learn strategies from to grow our business dramatically, but on a fundamental level we don’t have the same values. I know people say not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but if I find out someone I’m learning from doesn’t respect marginalized people, thinks the planet is our dumping ground, or isn’t spending quality time with their kids, I feel like what they’re teaching, no matter how effective, is tainted. Our culture has a long history of pardoning people for who they are because their work is so good, but I call BS on this. I’m just as, if not more, interested in who someone is than what they do. I follow folks whose values I respect because it makes no sense to invest my time, energy, or money with someone whose values don’t match mine. (Your spending is a prayer.)
This is not about putting our teachers on pedestals or expecting perfection of them. It is about learning from those with the depth, integrity, and self-awareness on board that makes them a good teacher. And only you will know who that is for you.
6. Lastly, trust yourself implicitly.
Even if everyone is going nuts about how great someone is, but something about them feels off, it is. For you at least.
I choose to follow the people who feel like a “hell yes!” to me and let the others be for others.
OVER TO YOU:
Which of these questions most resonates with you as a filter for who you follow or learn from? What other filters do you have for your teachers? Tell me in the comments!
If you’ve read this far, there’s a pretty good chance that you resonate with the work that I put out there and the way we run our business. Next week, we’re opening the doors to a brand-new program, The Ultimate Online Business Playbook, for just 4 days.
The program will give you a behind-the-scenes look at how we run our 7-figure business, covering everything from content creation, feeling safe to use your voice, project planning, managing a team, creating company culture, taking exquisite care of your customers, systems, social media strategy, visual branding, marketing, and more. If this sounds like it’s for you, get on the waitlist here. Enrollment is quite limited so look out for an email on Monday when doors open.