Where Gurus Fail

Silhouette of a huge crowd of people walking“Welcome to another new year, sir!” I exclaimed loudly, hoping to keep the subject light today.

“And a Happy New Year to you as well Watson,” The Detective replied, lifting my hopes that our discussion today would be on a lighter topic.

“Watson, I have been reflecting on the subject of gurus lately,” The Detective began.

“Sir?” I prompted, realizing my hopes were about to be dashed.

“Indeed I have. I think I have found a major flaw in their thinking, but it is one that if acknowledged, could have serious consequences for the volume of their business,” The Detective wound up, preparing to start throw the pitch. “You see Watson, the greatest amount of cash for gurus is in groups. They can teach – or talk at – depending on your viewpoint, to many people at once. Delivering the same content once to many. The issue with this delivery method of course is that the content must be generalized. They cannot speak to the individual needs of each person in a crowd of a hundred. Actually, they can’t do it to a crowd of ten. The trick is to present material that is fairly universal, and thus tends to the most basic, and at the same time, add a twist via some specialized way of looking at something or via their presentation itself – or both. The problem of course is that some will resent the universality of the material, other will resent the basicness, while others will get something from it, but then as they develop, will begin to get bored with the repetition,” The Detective took his usual pause, giving me an opportunity to put in my two cents.

“Then the gurus are useless? But sir, you yourself state that those with less experience should seek out the more experienced to borrow from their wisdom,” I argued, not terribly confident my argument would stand up for long.

“An excellent point Watson, and a seeming contradiction. But thankfully, while it seems to be evident, there is no real contradiction. The issue is not the wisdom that a guru might impart to you,  it is the amount at one time, and it is the environment in which they do it. This was my point about the group coaching. Group coaching, at least the way it is normally done, should be limited in time and scope. No more than a few months, no more than some generic topics that understanding the basics of can be valuable.

Beyond that, a guru’s wisdom should be imparted in smaller groups – where individual attention and customization can be done in response to each person’s needs. I think market is a perfect example of this. If you – the guru – built your business in a major metro area such as New York or Chicago, your view of networking, getting speaking gigs, even filling local events, your view of how to reach these people and in particular the ease with which they can be found and reached is biased. Methods of reaching people there may not work in a more suburban or spread out environment,’ The Detective paused again, and I jumped in with what I thought was a blindingly insightful observation.

“So the proper process is for individuals to get their basic information from the gurus using small, affordable – not necessarily cheap – programs, then move up to offerings like Masterminds, and then finally to private coaching,” I said feeling proud of myself.

“And the gurus themselves should make such programs available,” added The Detective. “Unfortunately, what I see too often is the guru, looking to maintain a lifestyle that they worked very hard to reach, is reluctant to offer the middle programs since they involve relatively small groups. It shall be interesting to see how this develops over time Watson.

“Now come, we have a new year to begin our work.”

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