Watch out. Snark ahead…
What’s with the burgeoning number of gurus out there today? Do a quick scan of marketing, public relations, web design and SEO business websites; check out Twitter profiles; and run through some Facebook page descriptions. You’ll find a plethora of self-proclaimed gurus (I’m not talking legitimate spiritual leader types) who are more than willing to allow us to partake of their worldly knowledge.
The superlatives being used today to elevate the stature of businesses and individuals — from guru and leading expert to global authority and master — astound me. And I worry about what we’re going to use at the next level of differentiation now that guru has become the standard go-to descriptor? Will it be something like supreme dude of the world? Or preeminent market leader infinity?
The audacity of individuals giving themselves such a grandiose label drives me so nuts that I immediately dismiss the possibility of doing business with them. Chances are I won’t be following their Twitter stream or liking them on Facebook, either.
So am I being unreasonable?
As someone who has spent a couple of decades working in the public relations and marketing spheres, I’m all for touting experience and expertise. I understand that if a business is to be successful, it must promote and advertise its products and services as well as its credibility.
Why “Guru” Sucks
Keeping all this in mind, the word “guru” still flashes as a big, fat warning signal in my book. Here’s why:
- First, for me, the word “guru” conjures visions of creepy, plaid coat-wearing scam artists who are pathological liars. This negative connotation gives me reason enough to avoid anyone who uses the word as a personal descriptor.
- Second, I have concluded that an overinflated moniker is the result of an overinflated ego. Individuals with overinflated egos tend to need lots of stroking. Because I’m more likely to slap than stroke when it comes to egos, I’d prefer to keep my distance from a guru. This keeps my snarky side under better control and makes me less likely to tarnish my reputation as a genuinely nice gal.
- Third, I find that people who have the cojones to call themselves gurus also tend to be heavy talkers compelled to constantly boast about their accomplishments and abilities. Moreover, talkers generally don’t listen — a big no-no for any person who wants to win clients and business.
Weed Out the Marketing and PR Fakers
If you’re looking online for marketing or public relations help, the following three tips will help determine if you’re dealing with a counterfeit guru or the real deal:
- Empty promises — Beware of gurus who make impressive guarantees and promises of prosperity if you hire them. Remember, marketing and public relations are only two of many ingredients in a recipe for business success.
- No history — If a business or individual elicits a big, fat blank page after your Google search, be careful. True guru-ness is built on a foundation of extensive experience and professional recognition. You should be able to find credibility fingerprints across the digital world.
- Bad first date — Did you ever go on a date where the person across the table spent the entire evening talking about him or herself and never asked you anything remotely personal? If so, chances are you didn’t go on a second date because who wants to spend time with a self-centered egotist. Apply this same weeding out concept to your first business conversation with a guru. If the dialogue is more of a one-way “I’m the greatest thing since sliced bread” sort of exchange and doesn’t include any interest in or questions about your needs, challenges and requirements, walk away.
Yes, garnering new business does require a level of self-promotion, but let’s not go overboard. I get it and accept it, to an extent. I just refuse to deal with someone who crosses the line from confident to all-out arrogant. I have enough to deal with in my day-to-day life and see no need to add more pompousness than necessary.
Photo courtesy of SXC.