Do You need to be an expert to have a valid opinion? Do you have to have legacy, history or mastery of skillset to create valuable insights?

As someone who has minimal “legit” on-paper authority to discuss the things I enjoy learning, sharing and discussing — consciousness, science, business, tech, marketing (well maybe I have some marketing clout; 18 years in) — who am I to even have an opinion that’s worth listening to?

Yes, I founded my first business in 2002. Yes, it was on the leading edge of the digital movement — before web 2.0, AR and snapchat… Sure, we had some good wins, built a global footprint, did cool work. But did I change the game? Write a book? Make a million — buy a Maserati — early invest in WhatsApp — move to Silicon Valley — angel invest… did I offer anything “valuable” to the market?

These are questions I flip around my brain a lot. And particularly recently as I’ve started branching out my new business, venturing further into my personal brand, building up social channels, playing on new platforms.

In so many ways I’m a newbie, but I do have some legacy of knowledge and experience. But nothing “noteworthy” enough that I could point to and say “Yeah, I killed it over here, and that’s why you should believe me.”

I’m not a Gary Vaynerchuk, I don’t have multiple million-dollar businesses to point to when you asked: “Well, what have you done?!”.

So does that make me invaluable to the market? Does that make my voice moot?

I’m gonna go out on a limb and say no.

WTF?! How can I say that? How can I determine that I — this unknown quantity — has something to offer anyone?

Well, let’s start here — are you still reading this? Yes? Well, why?

If you’re still here, and this is still engaging to you, then there intrinsically has to be some value in what I’m throwing down. And that’s what I’m suggesting.

Brendon Burchard breaks the “expert industry” into 3 types of expert:

  1. The Results expert
  2. The Research Expert
  3. The Role Model

#1 The results guy is someone like Gary Vee — the guy who has a legacy of massive wins behind him that show he knows what the fuck he’s talking about. He’s earned his opinion through execution and proven results. I’m not that dude — yet anyway 😉

#2 The Research expert — now this is where I see myself fitting into this equation. I can watch #dailyvee, listen to the Tim Ferriss show podcast, follow JLD on snapchat and understand the landscape, then share what I’ve learned with others who are further behind the curve than I am.

Within the context of the sharing economy I think an opinion formed in this way can be just as valuable as one formed through results and track record.

It just means that my audience is not going to be the guy who already earns 7-figures online, or the MBA grad looking for VC seed funding in Silicone Valley. That’s not my Tribe.

My tribe is going to be the stay-at-home Mom who wants to build a secondary income, but doesn’t know where to start. It’s the boutique beard salon owner who wants to market his business, but isn’t aware of the current landscape of social media.

In a nutshell, I believe ANYONE can be valuable, that in the current digital landscape, anyone can have a voice and be of service. Yes, the opinion must be value-adding — shouting shit from the roof top is still shit if the content is rubbish, hypey BS. But if your opinion has merit, if there’s a seed of interest there, then you can build a successful brand around your uniqueness.

For me, there’s an easy test for whether something or someone has value.

  1. Listen to an opinion/tactic/idea
  2. Validate first against your own beliefs — does it make sense within your world?
  3. If it makes sense, test it for yourself. Do the due diligence, ask the questions, put it into practice. Does it actually work for you?
  4. If it works — adopt it, share it, internalise it and make it part of your personal MO.
  5. Now you have value to share…

It doesn’t matter where an idea comes from, a 40 year veteran or an 18-year-old intern, ideas are only ideas until you validate them against your own reality. If it fits, great, use it. If it doesn’t, awesome! Just don’t use that bit.

I look at expert advice the same way I look at religion. It’s not an all-in game. If something resonates, adopt it. If it’s not relevant to your experience, ignore it or reframe it. You don’t have to love EVERYTHING about someone to gain value from their experience.

The world now is full of opinion; there is no shortage of advice. I think the responsibility falls onto you, the viewer, onto all of us, to pick and choose from the plethora of opinion, and use it to shape our own, personal experience and beliefs.

And that is what I believe is truly valuable. The unique perspective that only you have. Your story. Your journey. Whatever that is, wherever you started — there is value in sharing your experience.

We all have something to gain from hearing you.

Or not 😉

That’s the beauty of free choice.

*Update March 2020: I still believe that credible authority is available to all of us BUT it must be proven by displaying Fortitude. People will pay attention if you’ve got something to bring them in – a killer body, business success, 1M followers – a real-world result that points to long-term dedication and diligence in the background. That body wasn’t built overnight, it was built at 5 am every damn day, no days off. That business wasn’t an overnight success, it took years of hustle and grind. So yes, your uniqueness is valuable, but show us the proof, make us believe in you, so we can believe in our own ability to be just like you. This is my work now. I finally get it. Fortitude builds following. Let’s get it!

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