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Career Advice

There Are Two Types of Teachers: Here's How to Chose the One That's Best for You


“Who am I learning from?”

It took me until my thirties to seriously begin to prioritize this question. Prior to that, I absorbed who and what was fed to me instead of getting clear on who and what was best for me.

Deciding to write and publish my thoughts online played a serious role in helping me clarify who I should be learning from.

I didn’t want to spray around every thought I had on a subject. I wanted to share my best thoughts which forced me to proactively think with intention about the kind of teachers I had in my life.

Like most people, over the years, I’ve had some good teachers and some not-so-great ones. Looking back on it, I’m thankful for the not-so-great or even “bad” ones. They’ve taught me what I wasn’t looking for in a teacher.

But just because you know who or what to avoid doesn’t automatically mean you’re positioned to grow.

You need the right kind of support.

You need quality teachers in your life to speed up and maximize your impact.

The world has never been quiet. But a solid argument can be made it’s getting noticeably louder.

Since everyone with a smartphone now has a microphone, let’s dig into the two types of teachers there are to figure out which kind is best for you.

There are two kinds of teachers

For career advice, Conor Neill is my go-to source. He makes a load of sense. He also knows how to tell a story to get the right lessons to stick.

He told me a few months ago that there are two kinds of teachers.

The first kind is those who help you find your spark.

They get your curiosity flying. They motivate you to dig in and build a strong foundation. When done well, they teach you to begin to bet on yourself.

In short, they’re great at developing beginners.

Tony Robbins is an easy example of this kind of teacher. For a lot of people, he’s inspiring. He and others like him get people out of bed. They help people gain clarity on what they want to be doing with their lives while providing them with the tools to get started.

The second kind of teacher is those who take you deeper.

They take your hand and walk with you as an individual to create an environment and a plan that is right for you to scale your impact.

Conor is a great example of this kind of teacher.

He may not be as “sexy” or as viral as people like Tony Robbins. But he’s not trying to be. He knows beginner teachers will have larger audiences for the simple fact the world is full of more beginners than finishers.

He focuses on providing already hungry and established entrepreneurs and executives with the right tools.

In short, he’s a teacher for experts.

Both types of teachers are extremely valuable. One is just as important as the other. To reach your goals, you need clarity in your vision and confidence in your actions.

The first type of teacher is great with the first part.

The second is strong with the latter.

It’s hard for someone to be both kinds of teachers for you according to Conor. As you begin to wake up, you need to level up.

Noah Kagan’s story of walking out of a Tony Robbins seminar after dropping thousands of dollars to attend is a good example of this. He wrote a great article on his thought process. It wasn’t because he didn’t respect or like Tony. Noah’s a fan. He wouldn’t have bought the ticket if he hadn’t been. But the underlying theme for him leaving is he’d already graduated from Tony’s class.

Once Noah got home, he sought out the second kind of teacher.

He grabbed a few high-level books and contacted a one-on-one coach to help him address the specific challenges in front of him as an already established entrepreneur.

I have a friend who hasn’t yet had the stones to cut the first kind of teacher’s chord. He loves Gary Vaynerchuk and others like him. He’s been watching him first thing in the morning for years.

He’s excited.

He “rises” and he “grinds.”

Gary has helped him to set a strong foundation.

But he hasn’t yet made the decision to go deep and do the often unsexy work that teachers who develop experts would help him to do.

This mindset and failure to move on from his first kind of teacher have seriously stunted his growth.

What kind of teacher is right for you?

I don’t need a beginner writing coach. I’m thankful for the ones who helped me get going, but to hone more specific skills to make a lasting career out of this and to keep challenging myself, I need a teacher for experts.

Do you need to be reading articles and taking courses from someone who will help you cement your foundation?

Or do you need someone to help you scale your skills and vision?

These two profiles are very different.

Think about who you’ve been reading for the last few years.

Is it the same people even though you’ve advanced?

Do you feel like you’re not learning anything new or they’re saying variations of the same thing over and over again?

If so, it’s not on them to change.

It’s on you to change.

They’re teachers for beginners.

It may sound rude to think to yourself that you don’t need someone anymore. They’re good people. You like them. They’ve supported you.

But the best teachers will be happy about the realization that it’s time for you to move on.

It means they played a role in your advancement.

Their entire reason for doing what they do is to arm you with the tools to graduate.

The sign of a great teacher is a strong desire to have you surpass them.

We live in a world where it has become very difficult to accomplish anything of value on our own.

Choose your teachers with care.

It took me a long time to learn this but the greatest compliment you can give someone is letting them know that thanks to their guidance, you don’t need them anymore.