Gurus Share More By Doing Less

Hierarchy of the Self-EmployedThis is part five of the Hierarchy of the Successfully Self-Employed series.

Becoming a guru is not about something you attain.

It’s about something you realize.

Two simple realizations separate the guru from everyone else — and once those realizations occur, it forever changes the way they look at the world.

The first realization is that there are two types of currency — money and time. Of the two, only money can be replenished.

The second realization is that knowledge is not power — it’s a commodity. How knowledge is presented, shared, understood, and applied is what gives it power.

expert pyramid
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You Can Make More Money, but You Can’t Make More Time

Time, and the freedom to do with it what you choose, is the real measure of success.

As an expert, what people pay you for is your unique way of utilizing your knowledge and skills. Doing that on a time-for-money basis, even at the expert level, will only get you so far.

Guru’s have made this realization, and focus the bulk of their time on the Holy Grail of self employment — passive income.

Applying what you know in a way that can be created once, and repeatedly sold, is what sets a guru apart from an expert. Finding a way to package and present what you know is how you generate passive income.

And you do that through teaching…

A Guru Is a Teacher, Not a Know-It-All with a Big Hat

The original meaning of the word “guru” is “teacher.” Unfortunately it’s been co-opted many times by folks with big hats and no cattle.

Knowledge is useless unless it’s shared. Teaching someone else what you know, and doing it in a way that allows them to apply it, is what makes knowledge an asset.

How do you do that? Through books, seminars and workshops (both online and in person), audio, and video. Any way that allows you to the present your knowledge to an audience in a way that is engaging and compelling.

Just throwing it out there may work in the short term, but unless you are able to make the knowledge stick, you won’t have return business. Presenting what you know is not just about dumping information. It’s about making it real, persuasive, and useful.

Oh, and here’s the part some people seem to miss — you have to charge for it.

Giving it away as part of an overall strategy is fine (for marketing, generating leads, etc.), but it’s only passive income if there’s actual income.

The Hierarchy of Success Is Not a Ladder

We started this series with a look at Maslow’s Hierarchy, and the relationship to the Hierarchy of the Successfully Self-Employed.

One of the criticisms of Maslow’s theory is that it’s not a step-by-step approach. There are those that many would consider to be self-actualized, who don’t take care of the basic needs of the lower levels — artists, writers, scientists, philosophers.

The same is true of the Success Hierarchy. I know people who have jumped from a regular job right to expert, without doing any freelancing or contracting. I also know some who skipped the expert level and went right to guru.

Take a look at some of the gurus around who you never heard of 6 months ago. That leap seemed to just happen, and for many it did.

Because the Hierarchy of Success is not a ladder — it’s perception and choice. You have to know who you are, what you’re doing, and what you want.

Once you make the realization, and the conscious choice to act on it, there’s no stopping you.

You’re on your way to the pinnacle of success — you’re guru bound…

Hierarchy of the Successfully Self-Employed Series


  1. Rick – Thanks. A lot of people struggle with that part. The key is remembering that you’re almost always worth more than you think you are πŸ™‚

  2. Great post and series! I especially agree with the part that we have to present our material in a way that’s engaging and compelling. Thanks.

  3. I really like this article too. I found it interesting to know that being an expert and a guru are things that I am controlling. I donÒ€ℒt know why I did not think of that myself.

    Thank you for this series. I found it extremely enlightening!

  4. You certainly did a great job with this series. You’re comparison about time and money is great. We may have the same level of skill as the other person, but doing it faster is a big difference.

  5. Hi Tony, excellent post. I notice many entrepreneurs simply give away their knowledge because they don’t realize how valuable it is…the little hat, big herd syndrome. Sometimes when we become expert in one field or another, we incorrectly assume other people know just as much or could easily find out.

  6. Tony – What an amazing series! It is absolutely brilliant how you’ve so perfectly and concisely laid it all out. I found one and had to read them all from beginning to end (and I have the attention span of a gnat!).

  7. Jean – That’s one a lot of people miss. We have short attention spans. πŸ˜‰

    Brooke – “Creating your own reality” has so many hippie-touchy-feely connotations that folks miss the literal point. Everything is perception.

    Pamela – Yep. Then you find a way to package it so you can sell it repeatedly.

    Brad – Great point. I say err on the side of thinking nobody knows what you do πŸ˜‰ To quote Dan Baird by way of Jerry Lee Lewis, the Georgia Satellites, and Sawyer Brown (among others):

    That’s when she told me a story ’bout free milk and a cow
    And she said no huggin no kissin until I get a wedding vow

    Ann – Thanks. So do I. πŸ™‚

  8. This is wonderful. I really enjoyed reading your 5 part series. I’ll visit often to read more of your great posts.

  9. This is IMHO your best series I’ve seen, and very applicable to every one of us who blogs with the goal of leaving the office and being successful from the nest.

    I was especially encouraged about skipping steps, since that almost seems necessary for a fresh office-jumper to do because of the time restraints placed on them by their day job.


  10. I’m definitely attracted by the idea of passive income, but I’m a bit mystified how to do that in the web design world. There’s just so much stuff out there now that’s free! Design templates, layouts, themes, open source software, free tutorials, widgets that create websites for you, etc….

    Do people really want to pay for books or tutorials (the kind of thing a web designer might create) when there’s so much creative commons stuff that they -don’t- have to pay for?

    Any ideas?

  11. Caitlin – Free doesn’t always mean good. There will always be people willing to pay for quality. is a perfect example.

  12. Tony,

    Bravo! I have always admired your ability to clearly communicate but this series takes your talents to a whole new level.

    I concur with all your other commenters. This is great stuff and the perfect outline for a book.


  13. Wow. I am contemplating the move to self-employed. I have some elements of the equation working for me…but this series really helped my get my head around how best to position myself. I’m not nervous of failure…rather I’m nervous about becoming a wage slave.

    Thanks again for helping my synapses to connect. I believe you are in the Guru portion of the pyramid πŸ™‚ You know, that’s the same spot as fats/oils in the food pyramid…but they say, “use sparingly”. I say, pour it on.

  14. But Tony, isn’t it true that you aren’t a REAL guru until you’ve written and published that book? Any sucker (oops, freelancer) can write a blog but only an exalted guru can sell a book. Otherwise, one is just a guru-wannabe.

  15. Tanner – Thanks for the offer, but I’m not really interested in writing a book. If I’m going to package it, I prefer it to be real passive income — and a book won’t get you that πŸ˜‰ .

    Doug – Love the food pyramid analogy. This is good fat, full of Omega-3’s. Besides, I’m a foodie, so I like fat πŸ™‚ .

    Odin – That may have been true 5 years ago, but not so much any more. Any expert will tell you the purpose of a book is as a marketing tool. You make very little money. Like I told Tanner, if I package and expand on it, it will be a REAL passive income stream.

  16. Tony,

    Drew McLellen turned me on to this series, and hence your blog. What a well done series with original content. I will be back, I need to hear what my new Guru has to say! πŸ™‚

    Art Dinkin

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