The Commoditization of Expertise and Why You Should Never Trust a Guru

Trust and gurus

This is a guest post by Ryan Hanley.

The Internet is a canvas for Creativity…

Using the Online tools of today’s age, thought-leaders the World may never have otherwise known are given the opportunity to paint their picture of success.

It’s amazing really…

But for as much as I love the Internet and the possibility for greatness it presents, there is a dark pattern forming that troubles me deeply.  This may not be news for those of you that’ve been in the blogging game longer than myself… But its systemic and horrifying none the less… A true Internet nightmare.

The black plague of idea…

The rape of creativity…

The death of original thought…

The Commoditization of Expertise!

Everyone’s an Expert

So what’s this scourge of the Internet?

What could be so horrible that I would give it such a dramatic intro? Here it is…

Online… Everyone’s an expert. All you need is the most basic computer skills and an Internet connection and anyone can become an instant expert in the Online world.


Easy… You call yourself a Guru.

That’s it.

Read a couple A-List bloggers like Danny Brown or Marcus Sheridan, regurgitate a few of their concepts, throw the word Guru on your About Page and BOOM… You’re an expert.

It’s that easy.

Now the truth is your blog will suck.  But some people will find you and read your writing and consider you a thought-creator… then a dog will be kicked, a baby’s candy will be stolen and an Angel will lose its wings.

Well maybe that last bit is an exaggeration but certainly all the rest.

The result is the Commoditization of the Expertise.  A few great minds creating ideas and concepts that get chopped up and spit out over and over and over again…  Their ideas, thoughts and creativity exploited by a thousand hacks trying to capitalize on a knowledge thirty public.

For a visual, picture the Pits of Hell scene from the movie Constantine (yes… I’m an unashamed Keanu Reeves fan), now hold that image except replace the demons with bloggers and the lost souls with content.


Why is the Commodization of Expertise a problem?

Over time it’s hard to discern the Expert from the Hack…  Marinate on that thought for a couple minutes.

Never Trust a Guru

In my very humble opinion… Guru is a terrible term.

I put Guru in the same bucket as Rockstar and Ninja.  The first person to call themselves a social media Ninja was wickedly awesome and creative… everyone else since then is simply lame.

So my advice… Don’t trust the Guru, trust the person.

“Ryan… A Guru is a Person?!”

Technically… Yes.  But really they’re not.  People who pump themselves as a Guru or Rockstar or Ninja are trying to play a roll.  Guru is a costume… Guru is a character…

Guru is a front that attempts to tap into your inner desire for inspiration and success…

…and that makes a Guru dangerous.

The Guru calls themselves a Guru because they’re own content isn’t interesting enough or original enough or inspiring enough for people to see them as a Guru.

So they brand themselves Guru and instantly become an expert Online

Why Expertise Commoditizing Gurus are Bad for us All

(If this were my blog and not a Guest Post I’d call this section “The Rub”, but it’s not, so I won’t, but I guess I kinda did anyways)

Right now you’re probably thinking to yourself:

“Ryan… Don’t hate the player, hate the game.”


“Ryan… You’re drinking some Hater-Aid”

But the truth is I have no intention of playing the Guru game and I have no idea what Hater-Aid is.

What I do know is Expertise should be Celebrated.

We all know about Malcom Gladwell and the 10,000 hours thing, right?  Basically, in his book Outliers, Malcom Gladwell (Google him if you’re not familiar) theorizes that it takes a person 10,000 hours of practice to master a task.

10,000 hours is a lot…

What I want… What purpose of writing this post was when I first started is to provide a simple and sincere warning to those of you that thirst for knowledge Online.

Beware the Guru.

Don’t let the commoditization of expertise cloud your judgment when putting faith in a resource.

There are dedicated, inspiring individuals who’ve put in the time, who’ve done the work and deserve the title Guru.

Celebrate their Expertise.  Learn from them.  Allow their thoughts to help you shape your thoughts so you too can Succeed Online!

Thank you and Good luck,

Ryan H.

Ryan HanleyAbout the author: If you found value in this article, I encourage you to connect with Ryan on Twitter at @RyanHanley_Com or visit his website to read more about Content Warfare – Win the Battle for Attention Online. You can also subscribe to Ryan’s free newsletter, How to Blog Your Business.

There are 73 comments Share your thoughts

Share your thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like

Follow me on Instagram