Tuesday, April 08, 2003

One of the incidents that got me thinking about this Reluctant Guru project was a scathing email I received about a year ago from a reader of my Email Marketing Results newsletter, in which I enumerated a number of the arguments against email spamming. This fellow was critical of my anti-spam sentiments, and basically said, 'If you want to be a guru, you've got to stop being such an idiot.' Not exactly those words, but he did use the term "guru," and that struck me.

Up to that point, I never would have used the word "guru" to describe myself -- I didn't at all think of guruhood as a goal. Yet here was someone raking me over the coals for such pretentions.

I had started the Email Marketing Results newsletter mainly as a publicity vehicle for my EmailResults.com web site, not as a way to position myself as an expert in the field. In fact, I know many, many people who know a lot more about email marketing than I do, by virtue of their actually working in the field every day. But the mere action of publishing a newsletter and writing articles on the topic serves to position me (whether deservedly or not) as an expert.

For the shy person, this is a predicament. I do want people to come to the EmailResults.com web site, and I do want people to hire me as a consultant. At the same time, I kind of hate being noticed!

So how to deal with this situation? How do you use reputation to grow your business or career, without becoming a pretentious blowhard?

Al Bredenberg
4/8/03
Keene, N.H.