Expert, Guru, Or Authority

Let’s first see what the difference is between the three and then you decide which category you want to fall in…


Experts display special skills or knowlege derived from training or experience. They are really good at what they do and do it better than just about anybody else.

Think about athletes like Michael Jordon, Lebron James, Joe Montana, and Phil Mickelson. Nothing exemplifies an expert like a professional athlete because pro athletes know their sport inside and out, and they perform at the highest level possible.

These four athletes in particular are the best of the best. Lebron James is arguably the best basketball player in the game today, maybe one of the best of all time; that’s still to be seen. For now, I believe I’ll stick with Jordan as the king of the court.

Joe Montana is the finest quarterback to ever play the game. Of course, I’m a huge San Francisco 49ers fan, so I may be bit biased. One thing you have to admit is that he is an expert.

Why? Because he knew his sport like the back of his hand. As Montana ran his offense, he knew what the defense was going to do. When you know your sport well enough to predict what your competition will do, it’s safe to say you’re an expert.

red and brown book

You want to know your stuff that well, to be that confident in your position as expert. But is knowing your craft well enough to be an expert good enough?


Gurus have knowledge or expertise, much like experts; they are phenomenal at what they do. However, a guru is also willing to teach or guide others to succeed. They prefer to spend more time teaching than doing and get fulfillment

from blazing the trail to success and then leading other people down that path. They’ve scouted out the pitfalls, snags, and snares and know the best way around, over, or through those obstacles. Gurus find excitement in helping others and leading them to success.


The authority is someone who has the power to influence behavior and command change. That’s a powerful skill; when you have the ability to influence behavior and command change, you have true prestige. Authorities are experts, but they go a step further. They know exactly what needs to be done and how to do it, and they are the best at making it happen.

An authority is also a guru. Authorities relish teaching people and usually love to help others along the way. The easiest

way to succeed is to possess the power to create and control markets, and when you’re an authority, you have that power. Think about what it means to create and control markets. It’s the ability to go into an environment and see the need for a new market to be created. The market could be the fruit of new ideas or a forward-thinking twist on an old thought; an authority can envision new products or services that could be massively helpful in a particular area.

If you have the foresight and power to recognize a need and create a market where one did not exist before, then you are the one setting the rules in that space. You are dictating what happens, and that makes you the authority. The power to

control that market, guiding people and determining what they need, gives you control over the direction that market goes.

So the real question is, which do you want to be? Do you want to be an expert, a guru, or the authority? If you truly want to dominate your market, then you should want to be the authority.

What does it take to become the authority?

  • A message
  • An audience
  • The ability and willingness to share

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Jim Howard

With over 30 years in commercial print, branding and publishing, Jim Howard has dedicated much of his life to helping entrepreneurs, CEOs and business owners move ahead in their business. Follow him at,

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