Remain Teachable

Route 66 Missouri - 2010
Image by Dustin Holmes

There’s nothing worse than someone who knows it all. Yet, now more than ever we surround ourselves with paper experts, factions of wisdom, and pundits of the micro topic.

Online and in real life I meet and interact with many micro-pundits. Surely, there is corresponding micro-fame, and perhaps even micro-wealth that comes with such stature. But there is also a great danger of egotistical ignorance that comes with micro celebrity.

You could call me such a micro-pundit.

But really, wasn’t I really a modern King of the Vagabonds, one of the people who suddenly broke out because I shouted the loudest? And I did better than I ever had, but did I conquer? I had an agency of 8, not 800, yet I walked around the blogosphere like I mattered.

Today, I just try to share my experience. Things move too quickly for me to claim a kingly status.

In fact, given how frequently life changes, can any of us afford this position?

We’re all fallible, and have room to grow.

Humility is a hard topic, particularly for me because I don’t have much of it. They say anyone who talks about humility doesn’t possess it.

I do know one thing, the older I get the less I know.

I still remember last year when Pinterest broke open, and I sneered at it. There was a lesson there: Contempt prior to investigation leads to ignorance.

That’s why I played with Vine in the past week even though I really didn’t want to. And I saw some things that made me think this platform may succeed where other video networks failed.

I am grateful to overcome my initial contempt so I could learn something. It’s also one of the reasons I look forward to self-publishing. There is a lot more to learn about the book business.

In the end, things are going to happen no matter what I think, right or wrong. If I go through life with my heels dug in, it might just pass me by…

Remaining teachable. That’s a mantra for life.

What do you think?


  • Remain teachable and, I’d add, see through the eyes of a beginner. “experts” often fail to see what fresh eyes do see. Cheers! Kaarina

  • Hi Geoff,

    There are many “gurus” in this space. I’m just some rube who owns a small business and I want to dispense a bit of what I know (I could fill a thimble with that knowledge) … and talk about life. I’ll see where it gets me. Oh and be generous with your praise and share what you’ve learned, that’s part of what blogging is about.

    • Mr. McBreen! Long time no see. Hope all is well, mate.

    • Yeah, I think I appreciate Robert DeNiro’s stance on fame more and more as time goes on. He really sees publicity as a tool to promote his projects, but isn’t comfortable with the attention lavished himself, the man if you would.

  • Sooth.

    I used to concern myself with personal branding. The idea was to market myself as having actionable ideas on empowering staff with an eye on legitimate ROI. I’ve still got all those ideas. I get more every day it seems. But I no longer care.

    Today I look back and see how I was just as obsessed with scale as those I so often rail against pursuing millions in venture capital to serially build and flip ventures en route to billion dollar IPOs. I got caught up in the peer pressure to be popular.

    It’s so much more meaningful – more intrinsically rewarding – to actually DO stuff and discuss the results with others. I no longer care about pageviews, follower counts (or quality), or success on any one else’s terms. I’ve been both preacher and choir. BO-RING.

    It’s all about work-life-parallel. The only thing worth making is a difference. And success is measured in how many others you help achieve success for others. Thanks for providing a solid place to hang out and talk shop, Geoff.

    • Ewww, personal brander! LOL. I hear you.

      I do like being the guy who can pull strings as much as being the frontman. Director/producer versus actor. It’s really nice to achieve the goals without being in the limelight. I think there’s something more beneficial for all parties involved. And less danger for my fat head.

      • Totally. It’s great when your name (a function of your actions) gets you special access to something sweet, but it’s even better when you can pass that along to someone else.

  • Super enjoyable Saturday morning read for me her Geoff. Love pensive, real posts like this. Stay well man. :)

    • Thanks, Marcus. I enjoy my Friday posts more, too. I hope you are doing well.

      Are you in town on 2/25? Would love to get you to xPotomac. Think you would add quite a lot to the conversation.

  • Enjoyed this post Geoff. I appreciate your candor.

    You’re sharing an important lesson here. In many cases we don’t seek fame or expert-status. It’s imposed on us by those with less experiences in a particular niche that follow us. I don’t see an issue here. Yet, however it’s achieved, fame is intoxicating and we’ve all got egos in various sizes that are susceptible to its influence.

    Those whose 15-minutes of fame converts to a profitable long-term career are those who, as you suggest, remain teachable. Those who don’t believe their own hype – or that imposed on them by others.

    A person’s character has a lot to do with how they manage that fame and remain teachable.

    • I think as time has passed I have increasing compassion for those that succumb to the intoxication, too. Everyone wants to feel important, so the danger is real. Just like a 1% badge. But the danger lies in believing it and then resting on your laurels or acting poorly as a result.

      Cheers, and have a great weekend, Sam.

  • You are 100 percent correct. I am really concerned by anyone (especially an actual expert) who claims to or seems like they think they know it all. Here’s something I know for certain—the more you know, the more you recognize what you do not know. Life is a learning process. If I stop learning, put me in the ground.

    Thanks for the great post!


    • It is concerning. I think Sam said it best when he talked about intoxication. It’s easy to drink the hype. And falter.

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  • I completely understand and agree. We need to stay humble and ready to learn. Important to let students and children know that we don’t know it all.

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