So you want to be the Deepak of The New Economy and the darling of the conferences? Here is your 12-step guide to e-guru-dom.
- Begin every conversation, even personal conversations with loved ones, by issuing forth a provocative pronouncement. Example: “PCs are dead. Let’s get used to it. It’s the age of ubiquitous computing, people. Don’t worry, dear heart, she’s just a business acquaintance that I met at the conference who had a fight with her boyfriend and just needs a shoulder to cry on. No, that was not the sound of ice cubes clinking.”
- Memorize these words: “In my soon-to-be-published book…” When subtly disparaging the theories of a potential rival (and that, too, is an important part of e-guru-hood), refer to “so-and-so’s soon-to-be-published link.”
- If you are not writing a book, make someone else’s book your own. (This is called the HERMIT CRAB MANEUVER.) It is a known fact that if you associate yourself with a provocatively titled book (preferably one that’s been mentioned in Business 2.0 or Industry Standard and has a brightly colored cover), people will presume that you actually read. Once it is widely presumed that you read, though, be prepared for all sorts of questions. Example: “How do you find time to read?” Another example: “Is reading as painful as it looks?”
- Go to at least three industry conferences and study the gurus on the dais. Note the linen trousers. Note the knit shirts in unusual colors. Note the oxblood penny loafers. Note the tans. Note the studied casualness. Note the white teeth. Note the amazing hair. Hair is important. Ask of your current hair style, “Would someone find you a charming, slightly eccentric dinner companion, but definitely not dangerous or threatening in any way?” If the answer is no, you’ve got work to do.
- Invent your own buzzword, but don’t call it a buzzword. Call it a “term of art.” Here is one that I will be more than happy to give you: CUSTOMERGING. It is not important that either you or I understand exactly what CUSTOMERGING means. A term of art is a bit like some weird fraternity handshake. Don’t ask why. And remember the power of repetition.
- Get louder. If somebody 10 tables away from you at a particularly “important” restaurant can’t hear you say “customerging,” then, well, give up on the guru game and reconsider the forestry game.
- Throw around the phrases “front end” and “back end” liberally. To avoid any nasty technical questions, always make it clear that you are “just a front-end guy.” And if someone has some nasty technical questions about the front end, smile and say, “That sounds good, but remember, it’s the user experience that’s the key. If that technology you just mentioned, Dilbert, helps you master the user experience, then go for it.”
- Remember, you ARE the sum of your gadgets. Get an iridescent Nokia phone, one of those frenetic “millennium clocks,” and a Xybernaut wearable PC. Note: Do not slip into a hot tub wearing the wearable PC or you will have a VERY bad user experience.
- Oh yes, I almost forgot. Refer to everything as a good or bad “user experience.” And if you must continue to use the word “bandwidth,” freshen it up with hyphenated appendages like “bandwidth-constrained.”
- Intone the most absurd things with something that borders on Sunday-morning solemnity. Example: “In the era of fat pipes, distributed intelligence, and eyeball capitalism, the conduit isn’t the thing, the content is.” And say the most serious things with George Sanders-style insouciance. Example: “Don’t worry, dear heart, she’s just a business acquaintance that I met at the conference who had a fight with her boyfriend and needs a shoulder to cry on. No, that was not the sound of ice cubes clinking.”
- When you’re first starting out on your journey to guru-ality, i.e., you have no money, refer to people to whom you owe money as “alliance partners.” Example: “For a moment, I’d like to mention our alliance partners. We’ve been working with FedEx and Houston Lighting & Power and Sprint, among others, on several projects over the past six months.”
- Become a tall, beautiful Egyptian woman. This may present a bit of a daunting challenge for some of you, but it will be worth it, I promise. In one fell swoop, you will have accomplished the kind of personal and professional positioning that will be the envy of all your colleagues. Everyone will remember you. Exotic is good.
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