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Are you being bamboozled by online gurus?

Here’s a question for you:

Are people who dish out advice online even good at their craft? And does it even matter?

We recently came across a conversation on Hacker News about whether software developers who write blog posts like “How To Be A Great Developer” are really great developers themselves.

It’s a good question for marketers: Should you be listening to people giving advice online? And if you do, how should you decide who to listen to?

Here’s the deal. The way most people view internet advice, there are two categories:

  • Unsuccessful “gurus,” or people who give advice but don’t have the credentials to back it up. Anonymous, course-peddling Twitter advice accounts are one example.
  • Successful “teachers” who give advice and can back it up with past success.

Our take? This is an extremely dangerous way to filter advice.

Being good at something and being good at teaching something are two separate skills.

Somewhere out there, there’s a kids’ tennis coach who probably couldn’t take a point off Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in a real match.

But when the goal is to teach tennis to beginners? The kids’ coach is leagues ahead of all the tennis greats.

Insight: When deciding who to take advice from, don’t focus on credentials. Focus on the quality of the teaching itself.