There are a lot of “experts” online that know just enough information to be dangerous (and in some cases, don’t know enough information and are just plain dangerous).   The current zeitgeist is “everyone is an expert at something”, which I guess is great if you are trying to become an expert because the bar is extremely low.  This, however, is not so great if you are getting “expert” advice.

I am not sure of the exact spectrum of subject mastery, but it goes something like:

Expert: Self-anointed title when you decide you want to be known for something

Guru: You have sent in two cereal box tops and a check for $99 to the International Guru Registry

Authority: You have been on national television talking about the subject at least three times, whether or not your appearance was coherent or gave any value

Thought Leader: Other people have generally acknowledged that you have some semblance of credibility

Master: According to Malcolm Gladwell, you have dedicated at least 10,000 hours to the subject at hand

The biggest problem for me comes from those who have done something once (ostensibly with some level of success) and are now preaching their story as the gospel.  They were successful once and are now an expert or an authority.  Red flags abound for me here, because you don’t lose your virginity one day and then go author the sequel to the Kama Sutra, right?

Sorry, but doing something once doesn’t make you an expert

In business, there are multiple paths that can get you to a goal.  And the path that you take depends on your own circumstances, goals and objectives.  A person who has done something once has proven that under their particular situation they have been successful, but that doesn’t mean that they will be successful again or that you will be successful following that same advice.  Trying to take one special situation and applying it to your business may give you a helpful tip or two, but shouldn’t be the be-all, end-all of advice for you.

Seek out advisors that have a both depth and breadth to their knowledge base.  And if someone tells you that this is the “right way” to do something without taking into account your personal situation, run in the other direction.  Advice should give you a framework, not a “magic bullet” answer.

Remember, the circus is a show, so take a closer look to see if your ringmaster is just a master of illusions.

And be careful when taking advice (business, sexual or otherwise) from someone who has only done it once.