The thing about being an HR blogger is that I meet a lot of people who think they’re really good at what they do for a living. Even without saying it, they walk into a room and believe that they’re rock stars or geniuses.

Some of these men and women are awesome. They make me jealous. But that’s a small group. 

We’ve been living in a post-recessionary world where people with swagger need to make as much money as possible before the next crisis hits. And I’m a little tired of it.

You know who I’m talking about. The leadership guru with all the answers. The hotshot social media strategist with the recommendations on the latest app. The woman who will lead you through to promised land of webinars or deliver high-quality email marketing campaigns.

I think there’s a shift coming with branding and messaging. The shift is towards humility and modesty.

In as much as my OBGYN is a rock star — and there’s no doubt that she’s the best of the best in her field — she’s also a human being, a business owner, and a mom. When she walks in the room, she doesn’t try to impress me with the latest research on disruptive IUDs. She asks me how I’m doing.

I think audiences are sick of TED talks and gurus on Snapchat. Consumers don’t want to hear from the guy hawking his expertise to tens of thousands of people. They want insights and advice from the individual who is quietly advising some of the most influential leaders in the world.

How do you find that individual who has smart things to say but isn’t offering the same rote advice to his 450,000 Twitter followers? Well, expertise is a funny thing. Audiences have been tricked into believing that reach is the same thing as resonance.

Look for small, intimate gatherings of like-minded professionals. Seek out experiences where you don’t just get entertained, but you also get a chance to have a conversation. And judge the expert for yourself. 

And if you’re at a conference seeking advice with 10,000 other people, I think you should get up and walk out. The chances are that advice isn’t for you.


  1. I think your advice is spot on. I have never been one to be a joiner of large organizations, be it a religious group, or something work related that is far reaching, but not really that helpful. I tend to find the best answers and advice from smaller communities, where the knowledge comes from the heart and individual experience.

    One of my favorite slogan’s comes from a little organization (in the scheme of things) that does large work with helping animals, animals of all kinds. They are called Edgar’s Mission and they are in Australia. The woman that runs the place is my hero. Her name is Pam Ahern and her slogan is: “If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?” To me, that sounds like the type of leaders you are talking about. Humble, yet helpful in their own small, quiet way.

  2. “I think there’s a shift coming with branding and messaging. The shift is towards humility and modesty.” – I agree, however I have found this not necessarily to always be the case – perhaps it depends on the ‘branding and messaging vehicle’. I think like with anything – confidence/assuredness, not arrogance is key.

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