Big Ideas

No Gurus Necessary by Chris Brogan

By 08/09/2016August 12th, 202224 Comments


Gurus. Do we need them?

I don’t think so, and neither does Chris Brogan.

And he knows a lot more about business than I do.

He’s the New York Times bestselling author of Trust Agents and seven other books. He’s interviewed Richard Branson for Success magazine. Forbes listed him as one of the Must-Follow Marketing Minds of 2014, and listed his website as one of the 100 best for entrepreneurs.

A couple weeks ago I connected with Chris. I asked if he’d write a guest blog post for me, and he agreed. Here it is…

No Gurus Necessary

by Chris Brogan

There’s a great documentary on Netflix right now about Tony Robbins called “I Am Not Your Guru.” It’s very uplifting and fun and talks a lot about his live events. I’ve worked with Tony on a video project before, spent an afternoon at his house. He’s definitely a very down to earth person and not someone’s guru.

Another lesser-known documentary that I love dearly is called Kumare, and it’s by Vikram Gandhi. He is an Indian gentleman who has lived in the US most (all?) of his life, and who went to India to seek out the gurus there.

Turns out, lots of them were just begging drug addicts, so he came back to the States. He decided to dress up as a guru and see what he could get away with in the form of shenanigans when dealing with others who were seeking gurus. The point was to show that we all think someone else holds the divine answers.

You are not a guru. Neither am I. And yet, we both have a lot to offer the world.

No Gurus Necessary

As it turns out, lots of people don’t launch their projects because they worry that they’re not qualified.

There are studies (and I wish I had a link for you but I don’t) that show that females are even more concerned that they’re not qualified, which holds them back from applying for jobs where they might match 98% of the requirements. Why, I don’t think the survey said. But it’s interesting. 98% is not good enough?

I tell this to people all the time: if you know even a little bit more about something than me, I could use your help. I can learn from you. I’m one of the world’s leading bloggers, and definitely one of the first (I started in 1998) but there are tons of things I don’t know about blogging. About most things.

I’ve consulted with the world’s largest brands, and in those rooms, I’ve quite often said, “What? Beats me. I have no idea.” And I got paid $22,000 a day saying that kind of answer.

Because what I did know was helpful, and what I did know could help them make more money or avoid painful mistakes. And that’s what we all want in life. We want something that will improve our life and business in some way.

Be Helpful

Those two words are the only advice I’ve given when asked since 2006. Be of service. Do for others. I’m a fan of the Zig Ziglar quote about helping enough people get what they need so that I can have what I want. That’s the core of my money. That and my own failures.

You see, gurus never fail. They’re infallible. But Tony Robbins? Me? You?

We fail plenty. We make mistakes. Big ones. We ride the edge of complete destruction sometimes. And then we win. Sometimes. Other times, we fall down and get back up.

All along the way, the goal is the same. Be helpful. No gurus required.

Chris Brogan is a business advisor and New York Times Bestselling author. Learn more about him at

Steve Roller

Author Steve Roller

I'm a business coach, author, copywriter, world traveler (33 countries on five continents so far), and professional speaker. In addition to helping companies get more customers and make more money, I help other writers create profitable businesses. I offer one-on-one coaching, professional copy critiques, and live, in-person business-building workshops. When I'm not writing, coaching, or speaking, I enjoy nothing more than hanging out with my wife and four kids and planning my next adventure.

More posts by Steve Roller

Join the discussion 24 Comments

  • This is an important reminder for me. I definitely feel that everyone has answers, experience, etc but me. Recently I decided to share something in my blog that I thought was a no-brainer and it ended up generating a huge response as it helped others. Everyone has something to give others… And I’m learning that includes me too. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Steve Roller says:

      You’re welcome, Sarah. Good reminder for all of us. I look at what I do and think, if I can somehow help someone do something they wouldn’t have done without me, then it was worthwhile.

      Best wishes.

  • Deb says:

    Very helpful post. Thank you!

  • Matthew Hall says:

    Great points. I’m actually halfway through the Tony Robbins doc right now, and I’m amazed at his approach. He’s not giving the people anything they don’t have – he’s just helping them find what’s already there.

    It’s the same with the businesses we work with (as you mentioned). The best consults/copywriting jobs/etc. are when I let the client tell me exactly what they want. They already know what it is they’re looking for. They’re just looking for a writer to help them put it into words.

  • Hey Steve,

    I love how Chris Brogan framed this point using stories from some of the biggest “gurus” out there. (I’ve been curious about that Robbins documentary on Netflix and now will make a point to watch it.)

    I love his point about not trying to have all the answers. We can make ourselves look worse when we try to fake it. People appreciate honesty. Sure, we need some answers if we’re getting paid to help out, but not ALL, at least all at once.

    Nice guest post from Chris! I always stop and pay attention when Mr. Brogan is around.

    Thanks for sharing this, Steve.


  • So important to remember!

  • I’ve seen Kumare. I thought I could sit back and laugh at the dumb people being taken in by a poser. But it’s a lot more interesting than that and led to much self-examination.

  • Orane Ennis says:

    This is great advice and sort of jerk back to reality.

    It’s true, we always look for this one person ho has all the answers but in reality no one does and no one ever will. We’ve each got a few answers that may be of help to someone and though we’re not the best, we’re enough and sometimes more than enough even if we don’t believe it.

    I’m going to save this one for future reference.

    Thanks Steve and Mr. Brogan!

    Great post! 🙂

    • Steve Roller says:

      Thanks, Orane. It is a good reminder, isn’t it? We all have something to offer. There’s a client out there for everyone. And where there’s one, more will follow.

  • Matt Frost says:

    Great article. Very encouraging. I have to admit to be one of those who backs out of writing articles or commenting, for fear that I might make a mistake, or someone will come along and dismiss what I have said. Reading this might give me the push I need!

  • Martha Veon says:

    Just saw Chris’s article. This made me smile. The core of my coaching business is built on developing the individual. Idetifying the skills and talents that they already have and how to use them more effectively in their personal and professional life. Chris is right, we don’t need a guru.

    As you have pointed out many times in the Cafe, and as Chris says here, we just need to know a little more than the client or use our powers of observation to see a problem they are too close to see. Then offer a solution.

    I liked the comment about Tony Robbins being a normal or regular guy. We often assume that someone of note is unlike us in every way. That they are more valuable or smarter and certainly more unaccessable. Fact is they are just human. They decided what they wanted to do and found out what they needed in order to do it then started moving forward.

    I enjoyed this. Am sometimes slow getting to them but I read all of them. Thank you, Steve.

    • Steve Roller says:

      You’re welcome, Martha. I appreciate the comments whenever they come in!

      These kind of articles make it more likely that I’ll try to reach out to big-name people. As you pointed out, they’re not that different from you and me.

  • Thanks for a great post Steve! I really enjoyed Chris’s article. The poser syndrome is a powerful force that can hold back even the most confident amongst us. I struggle with it everyday.

  • This post made my night Steve. I first connected with Chris 3-4 years ago. Glad he’s in your circle too… you are awesome!

  • Zeyjan says:

    What a great piece Steve, I love it.

  • We take our own knowledge and talent for granted because they are second nature to us. But for someone struggling, the piece you offer so naturally may be just the answer that helps them put their confounding puzzle together and move forward. Thanks, Steve!

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