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“But what if I’m not an expert?”

Wow, this guy really, really hates my blog.

Check out what he wrote to me:


If you were to say you are qualified as a self-made man and entrepreneur, then I would have never written you. But, you are not qualified to give career advice, just because someone bought your book or signed up to your website like you’re some career guidance guru and then you told them to do A to Z and they got a job.

It takes way more to be a qualified career counselor. Do you have a counseling clinic with clients? Do you have documented hours counseling folks? That is what the groups above require for you to have a designator after your name of Certified Career Counselor.”

-Tom S.

Notice how mad he is.

How DARE I help anyone without the right certifications? Never mind that I wrote a best-selling book, host a million readers a month, and have a massive library of Dream Job success stories.

NOPE! He needs credentials.

Then again, maybe he’s got a point. So I rummaged around my apartment and took a picture of my most prized credential:

Ramit Sethi hot wing & salsa expert

Forget my multiple degrees from Stanford. This is what matters

Hey Tom. Now that I sent you this sign, can I teach a class on chicken wings? Is that OK with you?

What do you guys think?

God, give me a break. These nutty Credential Cookie Monsters are all around us. According to them, you can’t do anything until some mysterious organization anoints you with the right magical certificate.

You ever notice this? It comes in different forms:

  • You suggest some relationship advice, and your random friend pipes up, saying “what makes you the expert?”
  • You start dressing well and people ask “who are you trying to impress?”
  • You try Paleo and hear “oh, the food pyramid is wrong because you read some book?”

The funny thing is, you could actually whip the perfect degree out of your pocket, and they’d still find something else to complain about. Get the hell out of here.

The same thing happens when we decide to start a business. I’ve seen people get offended that you would think you could help people — and charge for it.

Guess what? I’m good at what I do. I give away lots of free material. And for the people who are serious about starting a business, I charge for it — and I know it’s worth 100x the price. Can you imagine not letting a credential get in the way of you starting a business?

Ironically, we’ve heard so many credentialistas that a lot of us have spent time chasing random degrees and certificates…for no apparent reason.

  • Spend years chasing some magical credential — MBA, anyone? — that is supposed to prove you know everything you need to know to start a business
  • Realize your credential didn’t help as much as you thought it would
  • Decide this whole online business thing is too hard and give up before making a dime

There are two ways to get around this.

First, consider the source.

Is the Credential Cookie Monster who demands your “certification” actually some curmudgeonly dude who’s been working in the same cubicle since the Reagan administration? Ignore him.

On the other hand…Is the critic a successful entrepreneur? Do you respect them? Do you actually want their life? Awesome. Those people aren’t ranting/raving nut jobs. Listen, ask questions, and follow their advice.

Second, understand that business isn’t a “most impressive resume” contest.

If you can deeply understand someone’s needs and can solve their problems better than anyone else — that’s what matters. And if you can’t, no credential will make up for it.

Let me show you an example.

The coach who makes $700 per client without credentials

Today, meet Jarrett, the interview coach who helps software engineers create a career they love.

As you watch this video, keep in mind that Jarrett doesn’t have a degree in interviewing. He’s a normal guy who interviewed a lot, studied what works, and learned how to share it with people like him.

Notice these insights that help Jarrett sell his expertise without credentials:

  • How to figure out what people secretly and desperately want, even when they’re too embarrassed to ask you for it. (14:25 – 18:25)
  • How to make people see your knowledge as a “must-have” they should pay for instead of an optional luxury (18:30 – 30:30)
  • Why being able to read your customer’s mind lets you charge more than everyone else (30:50 – 41:10)

Check out the video — you will not find it anywhere else.

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