So what exactly is a guru? Essentially,
just someone widely known for genuine expertise. Since most entrepreneurs
are experts at something, the trick is winning recognition. "You can't
declare yourself a guru. Others have to do it," says Al Ries, an
oft-quoted marketing guru (page 28).
The first step is to establish at least one
validating credential. It can be as simple as taking a leadership role in
a professional group, winning an award, or being associated with a famous
client, but whatever you do should indicate your expertise. The big gun in
the war for recognition is still a book, experts say, because it helps to
establish credibility as well as get media mentions and speaking gigs.
Chin-Ning Chu, a consultant on Asian
business philosophy, says a 10,000-copy print run of The Chinese Mind Game
in 1987 cost her about $15,000. Her partner, Curt Paulson, convinced her
it would impress clients. "It doesn't matter if we sell a single copy,
we'll give them away," he remembers saying. [With private distribution and
good reviews, Chin-Ning sold out of The Chinese Mind Game. Because of the
overwhelmingly enthusiastic reception, it consequently was published by
MacMillian/Simon Schuster as The Asian Mind Game, still in print.]
The China-born Chu, 52, isn't a likely
author, either. "I butcher the English language for a living," she quips.
But with help from an editor, the book turned out well enough to attract
other book deals [Thick Face, Black Heart with Warner Books; Do Less,
Achieve More with ReganBooks/Harper Collins Publishers], speaking gigs,
and eventually, time on Larry King Live [over 25 appearances on CNN, plus
shows on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox.] Chu is up to her fourth book and gets
$15,000 for speaking.