Not an Expert? Teach What You Know, Anyway

There are people out there who want to sell you things they have no right trying to sell. Ironically, the most qualified experts are often the quietest voices. So how do we fix this?

I have a simple suggestion: Teach what you know.

Here’s why this works:

  • If we all taught what we knew, we would waste a lot less time trying to impress other people, pretending to be smarter than we really are.
  • If we all taught what we knew and didn’t hoard our knowledge, we would all be smarter.
  • If we all taught what we knew, those around us would value what we offer more.

This is harder than it sounds, though, because we all suffer from the curse of knowledge. We are too close to the things that we know to even recognize their value. So we need a little perspective.

I love what Derek Sivers says about this: “What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.” If you know more than most people about something, then you are an expert to someone. And that means you have a responsibility to share with them what you know.

“What’s obvious to you is amazing to others.” — Derek Sivers

So let’s say you have some gem of an idea that you may not even realize you have. How do you get started teaching what you know? Here are a few quick tips:

  1. Write a book. I’m a big fan of this, obviously, as I’ve written four books already in the past three years. I think there’s no better way to figure out what you think about something than to write a book. And just between you and me, I like writing books because it forces me to learn things better than I really know them. So even if you’re not an expert, if you have an appetite to learn, writing a book is not a bad idea. The best place to begin is with a writing habit of 500 words per day.
  2. Speak at an event. There’s a reason why the Greeks used to gather in public squares to debate philosophy and why politicians travel from city to city to win over voters. The best way to spread an idea is still via word of mouth. If you have something to teach or share, getting in front of an audience and telling them about is a great way to do this. I love going to conferences and events to share my ideas and stories. And honestly, getting booked to speak isn’t as hard as you think.
  3. Teach a course. It could at your church or place of worship, the local community college, or even online. I’ve made a good living sharing unexceptional things with an audience of people who find them interesting — all through online courses. It’s humbling, but also incredibly energizing. Teaching courses like Tribe Writers has to be some of the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done.

You don’t need more information. You need to stop stalling and share what you know. If it resonates with someone, ask them to share it. Before you know it, you’ll be reaching people you never knew needed your message.

Some people say success follows passion. But I don’t think that’s true. Success follows value. And teaching what you know just might be the best way to create value.

“Success doesn’t follow passion. It follows value.”

If you don’t know where to start, here are three practical suggestions:

  • If you want to write a book, start writing. Need encouragement? Join the My 500 Words community, where you’ll get a short prompt every day for 31 days plus free access to a community. It’s one of my favorite groups online.
  • If you want to speak, start finding ways to get booked, even if it’s for free. Just get experience and practice, and you will create demand. I’m a firm believer that if you want to speak, you have to put yourself out there.
  • If you want to create a course, start by teaching a few people for free and see if you can help them. If you rock their worlds, then you know you’ve got something. If not, keep trying.

So those are some options. But whatever you do, don’t just sit there. Teach what you know. It’s more valuable than you realize.

A version of this article originally appeared on

Jeff Goins is the author of four books, including the national bestseller The Art of Work. For more tips on writing and online business, join his free newsletter and get a free eBook on building your audience.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Jeff Goins’s story.