So You Want to Be a Guru? Get in Line

UPDATED: November 26, 2014
PUBLISHED: November 26, 2014

“How on earth did you guys make $10 million in one week with that product launch?”

I was on the phone with Larry Benet, the wizard behind the curtain of the annual SANG author and speaker seminar. He had seen our launch, which, at the time, was the biggest Internet marketing launch in history.

“Larry, why don’t I stop by SANG in a couple months and show everyone in detail?”

He thought this was a great idea, so that’s what I did.

While I was there, I happened to hear Darren Hardy say something from stage that stuck with me: “I have one word of wisdom for everyone here: Actually accomplish something before you start selling advice.”

I laughed. Whenever I hear really true things, I laugh.

I’m not sure what the guru tipping point was. It might have been Brendon Burchard‘s book The Millionaire Messenger, combined with the recession, combined with me starting to pay attention to things—I don’t know exactly. But what I do know is that we now officially live in a world where everyone wants to teach and inspire everyone else.

When I scroll through my Facebook feed, I see videos of sweaty men (implying they just got done working out I’m guessing) sharing their latest epiphany, exhortations from people with 234 fans telling me to “Be great,” and pictures of people’s super-healthy lunches.

This, in and of itself, is wonderful. What could be better? If everyone goes around sharing their expertise and encouragement online then we’ll have a Cyber Tower of Babel right up to heaven in no time.

There’s only one little problem: Everyone either secretly or not-so-secretly wants to get paid for this. They don’t know how exactly, but they’ve been told it can be done so they’re out to do it. Bravo, and more power to them. But I have a question for these people….


I mean, if I could see your life laid out on T—if you had your own reality show that was actually real (the first one ever)—would I want your life?

What have you accomplished in your life that I should want to listen to you or give you money for your information, especially when so much information is free, which all information will end up being?

Are you saying anything original, different, unique, novel or exciting? If not, are you saying the same old stuff in a new way that helps me see it more clearly or at least be entertained in the process?

Are you saying something that lets me see YOU? Because you indeed are original, different, unique, novel and probably not exciting to me specifically (I’m a tough audience) but at least to a few thousand out of the 7 billion people on earth I’m sure.

Most “how to be a guru” books and courses I’ve seen (there’s even one called “Instant” Guru– SMH) teach you the basics of how to package your specialized information and sell it. They use the word “specialized” loosely for the sake of mass marketing, methinks.

“Do you have a dog? You can teach people how to own dogs better!”
“Are you a mom? Show everyone how to be a mom because I’m sure you’ve got it nailed!”
“Can you drive a car? Tell us how you do that!”
“Can you juggle? I’m jealous!” I mean me—Preston Ely—I’m personally jealous. That’s free self-entertainment for life!

Do you really want to be a guru? Your chances of success are less than 3.8 percent unless you do the following:

1. Develop yourself into a beast of a human being. Pay your inner-dues.
You know all these things you’ve been reading on Actually do them. If I was to put you in a room with real-life gurus who make real money selling their information, you would understand very quickly that this is no get-rich-quick thing.

These people are beasts.

Take me for example. I would say I’m what’s known in the Guru Kingdom as a super-beast. Dangerous… but profitable.

I started my first motivational E-zine when I was 24 years old, approximately one week after reading my first positive-thinking book. I spent the next eight years developing myself mentally, physically, financially and spiritually before I made any money doing something similar.

You are not the exception; you don’t get to skip this step.

2. Actually accomplish something other people would pay to be able to know how to do. Pay your outer-dues.
Richard Branson recently stated that he’s always startled to hear about people going into consulting without a lot of real-world experience under their belt. He made the analogy of their clients being much like passengers on a plane where the pilot has only flown in simulators. It may start out OK, but it’s not going to end well for anyone.

I concur.

If you’ve already paid your outer-dues with some solid real-world experience, then you’re way ahead of the pack. You’re mere moments away from guru stardom. The rest is just details.

3. Learn sales and marketing
Specifically copywriting.

Copywriting is the art of writing words that make people take out their credit card on the spot, type the number and security code into your website and click the “submit order” button even though they’ve never heard of you until three minutes ago, can’t see your product and have no clue if it’s legit or not.

To the degree you think this is easy, the terrorists are winning.

The best way to learn is to read a lot of good copywriting. The best copywriter I know of is myself. Seriously. If I knew someone better I wouldn’t tell you. But there isn’t, so just trust me. Look me up, read all my sales letters and let your mirror neurons go to work.

Still want to be a guru?

“99.5 percent of the people who walk around and say they are a social media expert or guru are clowns. We are going to live through a devastating social media bubble.” —Gary Vaynerchuk

Preston Ely is founder and CEO of, an Inc. magazine "Fastest Growing Company." He has built and sold multiple businesses and was recently voted one of Fast Company's "Most Influential People On The Internet." He makes $0 a year teaching success principles; he makes millions of dollars a year applying them to his own life and businesses. He writes articles for for the fun of it. Follow him at, on Facebook and on Twitter.