Its become fashionable to bash marketing “gurus" nowadays.
There are some for whom the prospect of even looking at someone as a “guru" is a sin. They believe in being free-thinkers, unfettered by the bonds of guru-dom.
Then there are those who try to score points by “proving" gurus wrong. They think they have achieved a new high in their field just by proving that a “guru" made a false statement.
The problem with such people is that they refuse to understand “gurus" for what they are.
So just what IS a guru (marketing or otherwise)?
To put it simply, a guru is someone who has “been there, done that. "
A guru is not one who is meant to be followed like a sheep, nor one whose every word is written in stone.
Of the letters in the Sanskrit word “Guru “, the letter ‘Gu’ stands for darkness or ignorance; and the letter ‘Ru’ stands for the one who removes it or dispels it.
A guru is one who imparts knowledge that clears the path of the seeker. Knowledge that helps the seeker gain a better understanding of himself.
Unfortunately many people see gurus - and marketing gurus in particular - as successful, over-bearing, conceited boors.
Trust me, if a person was successful in this field, he'd never have got there by being over-bearing and conceited.
Why? Because to be a success, you need other people to help you get there. And no one is going to do business with you if you're an over-bearing, conceited boor.
So just why do you need a guru?
For the same reason you need a parent - to guide you when you are young and still learning the ways of the world.
For the same reason you need a teacher - to introduce you to new concepts and ways of thinking you may never have conceived of.
For the same reason you need a football coach - to teach you the rules of the game.
For the same reason you need a mountain guide - to take you through treacherous terrain to a safer place.
Sadly, people only perceive gurus as someone to look up to with fear and disdain, or as someone to pull down so that one can feel important.
They can never understand that a guru (or mentor, or teacher, or whatever you choose to call them) is just someone who can help cut their learning curve.
Someone who can help you NOT re-invent the wheel, but continue where they left off.
Someone who could share with you a new way of doing things that could benefit you in ways you could never imagine.
Few ‘real’ gurus - at least those worth learning from - will ever want to be called that.
The ones who do are usually cocky, self-professed types, full of their own importance - and you'll learn more by avoiding them like the plague.
The gurus to watch (note, I didn't say follow - as in sheep) and learn from, are the ones with a long track record of success.
The ones who have repeatedly proved that their methods are legitimate and that they work.
Not the flash-in-the-pan types, who come and go faster than you can say “bestselling ebook. "
Not the ones who jump from one opportunity to the next and try to take you along for the ride.
Not the ones who endorse everything from lunar real-estate to miracle cure-alls.
And certainly not cocky little teenagers, who have never cut their teeth on real marketing.
Don't expect your chosen guru to know everything about everything. Even gurus specialize in different areas of expertise.
Just to give you an example, I respect Corey Rudl highly for his pioneering knowledge of marketing. But I would never take advice from him on getting high rankings in search engines.
For specialized knowledge like that, I would learn from someone who is a true expert in that field, like Dan Thies or Michael Campbell.
Whether you're a newbie starting out on the internet, or an experienced marketer who has honed his skills to perfection, the one thing you can always benefit from is an open mind.
And a willingness to be taught.
So when you do choose a guru, guide, mentor or coach, pick one whose insight can help you see yourself - and what you have to offer - more clearly.
One whose knowledge can show you how to bring out your own latent talents.
And one whose guidance can help you grow into a seasoned and successful entrepreneur.
Copyright 2003 Priya Shah
Priya Shah is a partner in the search engine optimization firm, SEO & More and writes an online marketing blog