The Natural Authority of Genuine Success

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I remember getting marriage advice from people. I remember one guy going through a brutal divorce telling me one thing and my folks who are incredibly happily married after 35 years telling me something different.

Why would I take the advice of someone who is experiencing the opposite of the outcome that I want? I want to know what worked for my parents.

That’s discretion, not arrogance.

If you have only enough time to read one article, are you going to read someone who has never achieved what you’re trying to read about, or would you like to read the words of someone who is a veteran in the field.

It’s the same reason that in Basic Training the Drill Sergeants are combat veterans. Very seldom, do they use people to train us who haven’t already fought.

They might be able to tell us the same thing, but if they haven’t been there, done it and came back successfully, what do they know about combat?

There are two important lessons that I want you to take away from this.

  • First, don’t pretend to be the authority that you’re not. There’s a certain disdain that people have for those who embrace the fake-it-until-you-make-it mindset. Share what you know and stop being a phony. Sure it takes a little longer, but it’s worth it.
  • Second, find those who are absolutely the best in your field, learn from them and try to figure out what you can do to become as good as and even better than they are. Don’t do it to one-up them per se, but because that’s one of the best ways to learn and grow.

When I was in college, I had a job where my pay was based on the amount of work I could accomplish. The more I could get done, the more I got paid.

One day, the highest paid employee looked at me and said, “Let’s race.”

“You know you’ll crush me,” I responded, but I raced him anyways and he did crush me.


I made more money that day than I had ever made before.

Special Note: I’m not saying that you shouldn’t friend, support or learn from those around you who aren’t successful yet. I’m simply challenging you to balance your learning with some input from those who are the best in your field.

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  1. January 13, 2011

    Denise Sonnenberg said:

    Thanks for 2 things Nicholas.
    One is pointing out how important it is to follow people who know how to make things work, instead of the critics who know why something won’t work. The world seems to have plenty of the latter.

    The other is for saying it’s OK to be real and not pretend you know everything. My very new blog is a chronicle of things I am learning while I am blogging. An advisor told me I need to project that I am an expert.

    I’m learning as I go along, and I think there are other people out there who can identify with the fact that there is no PHD. button (Push Here Dummy) on a blog. Unless you hire someone to do it all for you, there’s always going to be a learning curve in some area.

    • January 13, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      What your adviser told you to do is a great marketing idea, but it’s absolutely unethical right to the very core of it.

      Are you an expert? If not, then projecting yourself as one is acting out with the intentional effort to deceive people, and that’s unethical.

    • January 13, 2011

      Seth W said:

      Here’s what I would suggest. Your advisor wants you to be successful, but there is a side of marketing that is built around trust that can’t be explained away.

      I have followed plenty of blogs with people who (shockingly) admit they are still learning. The key here is they are successful in the methods they are learning. They might not be a problogger yet, but I can tell they will be someday.

      Be the rising star and you’ll find twice as much success as if you tried to pretend you were already an expert.

  2. January 13, 2011

    Allison said:

    I like when people who aren’t successful yet take the approach of “learn with me”. For example, I like BlogcastFM not because the guys who run it are experts, but because they interview people who are. Like you’re saying here, though, it bothers me when people who are new to a field or who aren’t successful proclaim themselves as experts. I see a lot of people claiming to be “social media gurus” in their Twitter profiles, but I have to ask – wouldn’t a social media guru have more than 20 followers? And know not to auto-DM me? And, you know, have a stream that was more than just links? :-p

    • January 13, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I’ve not heard BlogcastFm so I can’t speak anything positive or negative about them, not that I would say anything negative anyways because I certainly don’t intend to name names.

      However, I am thinking of another group of people who were charging for their research of successful bloggers and I have yet to find someone tell me that they feel like they got their money’s worth. Every person I’ve spoken to has felt ripped off.

      For a free product, there’s enough people that will follow, but I would argue that it’s probably not going to provide enough value to build serious followers or anyone who would place enough value on it to fork out cold hard cash as compared to following someone who’s made their mark on the world.

  3. January 13, 2011

    Izzat Aziz said:

    Like you say advice from divorced person, and advice from happily marriage person.

    I say I take both, from divorced person I would take the advice what not to do, and from successful one I take advice as what to do.

    I’m not some big guns in blogging field yet I talk about it.

    Some my reader ask me what gave me authority to talk about this.. I say I don’t need one.. because what I write is not what I want to ‘teach’ you instead what I write is something that I want to ‘share’ with you.

    But even so, what I share mostly what I learned, and also based on my experienced.. most of the time what I talk about is what mistake I made, not what good thing I did 🙂

    • January 13, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      But why would you take the advice from the divorced person? They can only guess what didn’t work for them. They can’t tell you for certain.

      If they knew for certain, they wouldn’t be divorced. They would still be married.

      I’m not a big gun in the blogging field either, but first I’m not going to claim to be and expert and second I’m going to let my work and my results speak for itself.

  4. January 13, 2011

    Dino Dogan said:

    You can take Boeing 747 and scale it down to create a toy version of it, but it would be LOT more difficult to take a toy airplane and make a Boeing 747 out of it.

    Lets just say that the toy airplane would be missing few crucial details…ahh, like the engine for example lol

    All advice is a toy airplane. From both people who “succeeded” and those that didnt.

    Also, Nic, I have to disagree with you on the Basic Training in the military thing. They do get trainers who have never experienced combat to train recruits…but I understand the sentiment behind it.

    • January 13, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      It’s true that they do have some non-combant veterans as basic training instructors in the Army. When I went through basic though most were combat veterans and the ones who weren’t, they weren’t respected by anyone.

      Who wants to listen to someone teach me how to do something that has never done it? He’s literally regurgitating information from a text book written by a guy who did it.

      I can just read the book myself and bypass the middle man.

      • January 13, 2011

        Dino Dogan said:

        That wasnt my experience in specifics but I do agree in principal.

        I dont mean to harp on the analogy but what about countries who havent see war in decades?

        Do they start a war to get combat-experienced trainers or dismantle the army?

        Ahhh, decisions, decisions lol

        • January 13, 2011

          Nicholas Cardot said:

          No. You’re definitely right. You don’t always have that available but if you do, who would you rather learn from? The one with hands on experience or the one who doesn’t?

  5. January 13, 2011

    Gabriele Maidecchi said:

    If you’re serious about learning, of course you will try to learn from the best. It’s in the human nature I think. You also mention the best way to increase your productivity dramatically, and that is, having a goal set in mind, be it a deadline or a “race” as in your example.
    If you think about it, the best way to find good programmers for companies like Google and Facebook is setting up competitions, that’s not a coincidence.

    • January 13, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Sometimes I think that people would rather learn comfortably from a friend than to do the hard thing and study the instruction of a seasoned professional.

      But in the end, the one who knows how to make things happen is the one who knows what it takes.

      That competition is a great example of how to motivate people and how to watch people rise to the top of their industry.

  6. January 13, 2011

    Boykie said:

    Hi Nick (hope that’s okay),

    Thanks for the post, it was interesting and got me thinking as just yesterday I was having a discussion about something similiar.

    It is true, learning from the best is usually the best thing, however one has to always keep an open mind. The person who has been divorced may very well be the person who has the best advice and idea for being happily married, but may have had a combination of circumstances that the happily married couple may never have experienced thereby resulting in the divorce. You do not know if the happily married couple, if put through the same conditions would have survived.

    In business, you see a lot of established businesses and as they are the leaders in their niches a lot of copycats come along (which is what you’re advocating in a way) and are successful in a way, but they real successes are often those who don’t follow the leaders but instead do the unconventional thing and follow their own path.

    Unfortunately, a lot of great mind s fail because their timing was off, the technology wasn’t there at the time, there was a minor missing link e.t.c, just because they failed doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take advice from them in favour of the ‘lucky’ one who is now doing well.

    The item I was discussing was ‘The Dragons Den’ a series in which aspiring entrepeurs pitch to established businesspeople to get funding for their projects. There was a chap on with the idea for an electric car and need 2.5 million in funding. He never got the funding because (in my opinion) the dragons believed they would be able to compete with the likes of BMW, Audi, Mercedes etc who were all designing electric cars and had much bigger budgets.My point of view was that just because they (the big car manufacturers) are already established, it doesn’t give them automatic rights to the market.Now I’m sure there are failed car manufacturer’s out there who would advise the chap to continue whereas the likes of BMW would advise to just leave the project (and join them ;-)).

    • January 19, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Although there are always exceptions to the rule, there is an old expression that along the lines of “the rich get richer.” And it’s true. Those who have success find more success because they know where to look for it. Those who don’t just keep asking people who are unsuccessful for advice and then they wonder why they’re constantly struggling to make anything work.

  7. January 13, 2011

    Vivek Parmar said:

    Work consistently and never give up naturally bring success and many persons getting success by determining and focussing on their goal rather than thinking ruthelessly

  8. January 13, 2011

    TrafficColeman said:

    Its all about finding someone who have done it and lived it..once you do that then you can implement their steps and make your life a lot more easier..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  9. January 13, 2011

    Dean Saliba said:

    A lot of the time the people who say “don’t get married” are speaking from bitter experience.

    It didn’t work for them so rather than admit it was them they blame the whole mariage concept. 🙂

    • January 19, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I have a buddy at work who is exactly like that. It kills me to hear him talk.

  10. January 13, 2011

    Radu Tyrsina said:

    For me, you are one of the top bloggers, that’s why I try to learn as much as possible from you! 🙂

  11. January 13, 2011

    Jon Thomas said:

    What I’ve learned along the way…

    Tip #1. Never call yourself an expert…ever. Even if you’re right, some people will dismiss you right away and favor the humble ones.

    Tip #2. Surround yourself with people much better and smarter than you.

    Tip #3. Don’t doubt yourself. Just because you’re not an expert doesn’t mean you’re bottom of the barrel either. Be honest, always, and do your best.

    Tip #4. Size doesn’t always matter. There are ways that a 1-man operation can compete with a well oiled machine. Be unique and responsive.

    Tip #5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That’s how you learn.

    I think I’m going to stop here…I smell a blog post of my own coming…

    • January 13, 2011

      Radu Tyrsina said:

      Your tip

      Tip #2. Surround yourself with people much better and smarter than you.

      reminds me about the Revolver movie and those principles that the “scamming” guys taught 🙂

  12. January 13, 2011

    Jeff said:

    Great article and great concept! Learn from the best.

    And nice excerpt from your college days! That “highest paid employee” must have been nice to work with!

  13. January 13, 2011

    mark said:

    Well put Nick. The way that I look at it is very similar. There are very few times when just taking one piece of information, or one view point, or one idea that turned into a success for me.

    Its always been about learning the different aspects of a subject before taking a shot (for me anyway).

    Even then, once I have started something, I learn along the way.

    These “gurus” and people who do the “fake-it-until-you-make-it” thing may find some short term success, but in the process they are probably hurting someone.

    I just see no reason for that. Plus, I always enjoy watching people improve over time. Watching someone’s success is much more fun than watching someone’s arrogance increase.

    That is just how I see it.

    Have a good day!

    • January 19, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      I agree. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this concept lately and I need to come up with a term for it. There are really two concepts about making money that I see in the world.

      One concept is that you should do whatever you can to make as much money as possible as fast as possible.

      The second concept is that you do whatever you can to provide as much value as possible and you wait for the money to catch up with what you provide.

      It does eventually come and is always more rewarding, but it takes time and hard work. People aren’t willing to do that.

      What name or label can I call that second method? That method of generating income by providing value.

      • January 20, 2011

        Radu Tyrsina said:

        “The second concept is that you do whatever you can to provide as much value as possible and you wait for the money to catch up with what you provide.”

        Nicholas, you’re reading my thoughts! That is exactly what I’m doing in the online world. 🙂

        Such a wonderful definition, can I steal it? 🙂

      • January 20, 2011

        Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing said:

        “Value based income” works for me.

  14. January 14, 2011

    Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing said:

    Its so much easier not to lie, I just don’t get the thrill.

    I say, ask me anything you need to, if I do not have a clue I will say so and then get it for you.

    • January 19, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      Exactly. I’m the same way. I have to admit a lot that I don’t know a lot. It’s not hard for me. I’m with you on that.

  15. January 14, 2011

    Suzanne C said:

    I had a telephone call yesterday from a potential client. His 71 year old wife was recently diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and he had spent every day since her diagnosis researching why she may have gotten this disease. He was stressed and sad and apparently had spent countless dollars and time having various environmental tests done to determine the cause of his wife’s cancer. He kept coming to the same conclusion, it could be this or it could be that. Nothing conclusive, just another opinion and more dollars from his pocket and more time away from his wife. He was buying into every fear monger’s opinion! He was purchasing tests and “cures” from everyone. He was even considering moving to another state to escape what environmental dangers he may be experiencing in his town.

    I work in an environmental testing lab. I could have sold him any test he so chose to have performed. But I didn’t, I told him to hold his wife’s hand, support her, help her get through her treatments and forget about the past. Stop worrying about what he could have done and start doing what he can do now. Live for today.

    Prior to the end of our conversation, he thanked me for giving him a new perspective and new balance to his fight. He then asked if he could call me again, just to help keep him in balance.

    My point being, Nicholas, you hit the nail on the head when you said “balance your learning”. That man said the word “balance” twice to me. Balance IS the key. Some advice is good- some is just plan bad, you need to decide for yourself what works for you.

    • January 19, 2011

      Nicholas Cardot said:

      That’s an awesome story. I don’t even know what to say in response except thanks for sharing it. What a powerful example.

  16. January 17, 2011

    Reza Winandar said:

    Keep in touch with the people that unsuccess yet, they might be teach you a lesson.

  17. January 20, 2011

    Ryan Critchett said:

    I like it friend. It’s funny that you said that thing about drill sergeants, I actually had a couple of drills that weren’t combat vets! (Army, 3 1/2 years). When I went out into the “real army” thereafter, and actually went to Iraq, I knew that people who outranked me and hadn’t gone over there, WERE people respect, but didn’t have the necessary psychology and “knowing” of a combat vet, thus not many people took them incredibly serious.

    Great post.

  18. January 27, 2011

    Tom Huntington said:

    Hi Nick,

    Everything you say makes sense here, yet learning about life, and especially something so complex as a marriage, is not linear. And sometimes the people who are very skilled at something are not good teachers, ’cause they don’t know “the other side”.

    For example, I’ve been married twice. Now after my 1st marriage I would not have been a good source of relationship advice for anyone (I’m sorry to say), but after a lot of learning about love and caring in two subsequent relationships (one a marriage), I’d be a damn good source of wise and basic and healthy/happy relationship, love & caring advice today.


  19. July 6, 2011

    Wayne McEvilly said:

    I am a concertizing pianist. I have a lot of experience in the field. Yet it is only after seven decades of dedicated daily practice that I begin to believe I might have something worth imparting to the young who aspire to perform. I am constantly amazed by the audacity of the pack of piano teachers who do not themselves display any ability actually to play the piano.
    There are plenty of ‘blind guides’ in this as in any field.
    So first, look to the proven veteran and then follow. else –
    ‘If the blind lead the blind shall they both not fall into the ditch?’

  20. September 24, 2011

    Noel Addison said:

    You have a point that veterans in a specific field can give a better advice than the newbies who haven’t proven anything yet. But there are times that things that worked for veterans do not work any longer at the present time.