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The Expert Curse: How I Overcome Expectations of Others

at a dinner with my friend tucker i confided with him i was overwhelmed working on okdork.

when you start out in your business and do crazy things or experiment and it works or doesn’t, who cares. there’s no one to watch you fall. you’re just playing around without expectations.

one of my favorite quotes recently relates to this expression. it’s from steve jobs.

“the heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again.”

this speaks it so eloquently.

the more we add expectations the more others expect of us.

letting all that go releases us back to freedom and the enjoyment for when we started our ventures.

my good buddy adam says it well about that process:

“many successful people stop doing the things that made them successful.”

that’s very true for marketing.

you did guest posts, interviews and such to get your site to where it is. yet you stopped doing them and now you wonder why your traffic is down.

i think that applies to almost 100% of you. i know it does for me.

it’s challenging when you create for yourself and your own goals versus the expectations of others.

let me be real with you.

i need you.

okay, i want you. i can live without you.

same for you with your customers.

when you create or service someone (don’t be perverted) and they genuinely thank you for your work there may not be anything greater in life.

but then you get more praise and more recognition.

you think you are great. you may eventually be called an expert by some people.

tucker said this amazingly well, “the moment you become an expert you stop learning.”

you take your expert ways and fit the world to look through those lenses.

the expectations of others pushes me to create better articles and stress out to make sure each post gets more shares, comments, opens, email subscribers than the past.

and when it doesn’t, then it was a flop. a waste of time. my ego is deflated.

all along okdork has been my expression for learning and sharing things related to marketing and starting a business.

so where is the balance from outputting 400 word articles relating to my depression or this post that’s not exactly about marketing vs 3000+ word marketing posts that take 40+ hours with editing and hoping to get the amount of new subscribers to make it worth it.

for me…at this point and at points with appsumo and now with (our latest flagship product) i go back to one simple way of looking at it.


you could say this is the why.

am i having fun with the work i’m doing?? ask yourself that…

  • is it keeping me up at 11pm to edit the article or bug someone profusely cause i can’t wait to share what they are writing?
  • is it a challenge to experiment successfully or not new ways that may get new subscribers because I’m curious?
  • is it exciting to see that even 1 person appreciated something even though open rates don’t reflect that all the okdorkians loved it?
  • is it enough that I’m happy with what I’m doing?

lately i keep thinking about the output we do during the week and how it’s reflected when we die.

all of our generation wants to feel meaning.

unfortunately there is no scorecard regardless of how much money you have when we die.

you just die and its over.

so 3 more blog posts or 100 new subscribers unfortunately won’t get you a plot that much closer to heaven.

all that matters is that you feel fulfilled with what you are creating.

loving the work you do.

having fun with what you are doing.

being true to yourself.

so what does that mean in terms of real action, for me:

  • it’s occasionally posting shorter articles i am proud of and believe will benefit your lives. like this one
  • experimenting with newer marketing activities so i can find the things that work and don’t, then share them with you.
  • continued playfulness.
  • spelling errors and doing an entire email without 1 capitalization. yea, like that 🙂

tell me what’s fun for you to work on in the comments!



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96 responses to “The Expert Curse: How I Overcome Expectations of Others”

Alex Metzger
March 30, 2017 at 10:03 am

Wow. Great post. Thanks for the honesty!

“Having fun with your work” is so important. I guess that’s why i quit SaaS business and started ResumeYard. We’re all about helping others find work they love, and work that helps others. I guess for me I want to take it one step further than just the “having fun” part because there is nothing as fulfilling as the feeling of knowing that all the hours went in to help someone else achieve their dreams. I live on those stories … which thankfully are quite frequent.

December 24, 2014 at 4:49 am

fun for you to write, fun for us to read. seems you’re in track.

August 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm

This is talked about by almost every successful person. Don’t let acknowledgement get to your head. Always continue to learn. Go back to your roots. Some very good advice.

Joel Cerda
August 26, 2014 at 6:56 pm

I love running, mountain biking, learning about online maketing and buisness. Getting things done, audiobooks, addicted to podcast and listening to your interviews. Keep up all the awesome content!! It inspires me to explore and think outside the box in all I do!!! I did not spell check this eather

Jane Atkinson
August 12, 2014 at 2:03 pm

So true that when our ego gets involved in the competition (more likes, more shares, more comments”, it becomes less like fun and more like work. Great post.

Paul Montreal
July 31, 2014 at 2:04 pm

The ultimate metric: do I feel good about this, am I adding value?

Only you can answer that. We’re fickle. 🙂

July 28, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Hey Noah,
The work you do is great and has created a lot of insight into my own work. Just thought I should share the love. Keep up the good work, and keep it coming with the spelling errorrs!

Eric Bell
July 28, 2014 at 6:52 am

Good post. One thing, how about hitting that shift key just a little bit more Noah. As I was reading I was getting slight fatigue figuring out where new thoughts where (or just new sentences) since you didn’t capitalize as expected. I never thought of you as someone who’d want to make communication harder.

Tania Dakka
July 26, 2014 at 8:01 am

I ADORE massaging and molding copy into money.

Tania Dakka
July 26, 2014 at 8:02 am

Thank YOU for reminding me!

July 21, 2014 at 4:36 pm

I love this post… right now I love nothing. I know this is just because the mundane has sucked the life out of everything else, but at least I realize that… now to pick something… maybe I’ll start with MySQL… that sounds fun

Lilia Tovbin
July 21, 2014 at 10:03 am

Great post Noah, thanks for sharing your thoughts and keeping it real! It’s definitely something many of the established entrepreneurs can relate to.

Because my business is in education space, I work for more than just financial success and hope for social impact as well. Receiving emails and feedback from grateful educators is very motivating for me personally. I used to think an exit was the ultimate goal, but now I look for ways to build lasting value and something I can be proud of.

I don’t think blog posts have to be original – as you read posts of others, you can identify opportunities to improve and dig deeper than original author and I think that’s perfectly fine. I don’t think writing for the sake of putting out something new/fresh on a forced schedule is better than just waiting for a great idea/topic and knock it out of the ball park.

July 20, 2014 at 6:54 pm

I love working on my new web page because it’s a whole new experience for me full of ups and downs. I also love trying to figure out how to teach math to children the have math disorders. It is challenging but I enjoy the research and the creativity involved on my part to help these kids and their parents. I picked up two more parents this weekend as I tried using some of your advice from summer of marketing and the kids all have some type of learning disability and I’m so excited to help them and their parents so they can start off the school year strong.

July 18, 2014 at 4:02 pm

What keeps me up at night is relationships! I love learning about why people date the people they do, their dating patterns, how Alpha men/women choose a mate, etc…. This is what’s fun for me to work on at 2am and what I can’t wait to get out of bed for in the morning to keep working on! Great post Noah!

Kyla Bauer
July 18, 2014 at 2:37 pm

My website doesn’t work yet, but I’m spending most of my time bridging discussions about wellness concerns with community members and the experts. I love it when resolution is so much easier than any of us could have thought. I love connecting people.

Jimmy Thong Tran
July 18, 2014 at 5:31 am

I love writing an article/poem for at least 1 person.

Marty Jackson
July 17, 2014 at 8:22 pm

Hey did you figure it’s summer. Allot of us don’t like working on the biz in the summer. There is too much living to do.
Remember your list from earlier this year…? Take some sailing lessons. Then go sail! And do that whenever you feel like…..

David Wolfe
July 17, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Noah, dude, this is an awesome post. Keep it up buddy! Tallyho

July 17, 2014 at 1:50 pm

fist of all, thank you for such a great email.

I really love international trade, being able to connect countries, cultures and share experiences with pros from all over the world really makes me happy. I understand what depression can do for someone, and strongly believe that every entrepreneur should live it once in order to put shit together and prioritize what really make you happy in life.
I really really love creating a business from nothing, love talking to people about their business strategies and share with them mine, I absolutely love continuing learning from the Pros… like I do with Okdork ….
Cheers guys and thank you for everything.

Saya Hillman
July 17, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Struggled with this over my ten-years of self-employment. All of my crazy, wacky, “no one will pay you for that” ideas when I first created them were incredibly easy to implement. Not easy because the work-load was light, it wasn’t, but easy because I had a blank slate. No comparisons, no expectations. People were just excited to jump in.

I now have HCP after HCP (high-class problem) —
“But last time, they had t-shirts!”
“But I saw photos of past participants tubing, why aren’t we tubing this time?!”
“But the playbills were color last show, why are ours black and white?”
So wonderful that my offerings are successful and continue to exist and grow, but I beat my head against the wall with all the comparing/complaining.

I’ve come to deal with it relatively well by
1) really targeting my market to people who are open, flexible, go with the flow, which cuts down on the comparers and complainers, and
2) realizing that one of my most favorite perks of being self-employed is the simple one of if I’m not having fun, I stop doing it. I realized that when I was stressed or unhappy, much of it was self-created. So I stopped putting myself in non-fun situations. Breath of fresh air! And now I spend 99% of my time doing exactly what I’m good at and what makes me happy (1% goes to taxes, which I can’t figure out how to cut out of my life without going to jail).

Adults need more fun, play, and laughter in our lives! #LifeOfYes

Rick Corbett
July 17, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Noah, thanks for the heartfelt comments. It shows me you are not actually a machine! lol
After having been a business owner for over 35 years (5 different brick and mortar businesses for 22 yrs & network marketing for 13), Today I am co-founder of a startup which launches our iOS app next month and can say that working in a startup is the most fun I have had in a long time. Yea, the hours are ridiculous, been working 7 days a week for 18 months but I love every minute of every day. A startup is unlike any business I have ever owned and the challenges are sometimes overwhelming but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Learning something new every day is exciting and makes me look forward to every day. #LovingLife
BTW, thanks for all the help and great content. Kudos to you, Tyler and your team. You guys rock!!!

Suzanne Sanders
July 17, 2014 at 10:24 am

I’ve been a subscriber for about a month or so, but your cred immediately went up a notch when I read your post about depression. Too many people spend so much of their time selling themselves as “experts” and “gurus” and “hackers” and less time talking about the challenges we all face as we continue to expand as human beings. If you aren’t facing challenges, there is something wrong and you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough, personally or otherwise. So thank you for being vulnerable and putting your real self out there in a real way.

brian brown
July 17, 2014 at 9:33 am

Damn Noah thats deep man. Your words are real and make me think. You rock. I would say the the making headlines different squeeze pages optins adding the content and pics ideas to make brilliant optin pages is whats fun to me . Getting traffic and eyeballs makes my head hurt and makes me want to bang my head on a wall. There is so many fake clicks and fake leads you cant tell who really wants what you got . Thanks Noah!

July 17, 2014 at 8:12 am

Cheers Noah! Have been thinking similarly these days, trying to get back to a path I identify with and umming and ahhing far too much over which track to pursue. But my conclusion – doesn’t matter which as long as it can be made fun and meaningful; enjoy it. That’s the whole point of quitting one’s highly paid jobby job and starting your own thing anyway. And another conclusion of mine – bring cool people with you; not just the usual build a great team schtick; try to involve people whose opinions you value and that you really like and respect. Good on you for sharing…

July 17, 2014 at 1:38 am

Totally love the honesty, refreshing change from all the “million dollar how-to coaches” who make it seem so easy. What I looove about what I do is seeing others grow, learning from them and being able to pursue my own interests until any time into the night. And yes, when in doubt, I head for the gym or the tub with a good book 🙂

July 16, 2014 at 10:28 pm

“3 more blog posts or 100 new subscribers unfortunately won’t get you a plot that much closer to heaven”

Incredibly well put, and went straight into the quotes archive.

Hopefully whatever we’re doing here is what we’d like to be doing in heaven, anyway.

July 16, 2014 at 8:37 pm

Keep doing what you’re doing Noah! If you need a buddy for your next taco run in H-town just holla. You’ve motivated more over the years than you realize

Anne-Sophie Dumetz
July 16, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Hey Noah: A little while ago, I start to challenge myself by applying this philosophy learned from my children:

“If you’re doing to do it anyway, do it the fun way”.

But Fun can be hard. Doing things the fun way almost a counterculture move in this world of serious business. Being a fun adult can feel like you’re a freak of nature sometimes.

In business, I started to challenge myself to make things funner. Like writing about getting an epic life wedgie to show me I was stuck (it’s funner than saying I burned out)…. Or later, figuring out I had a marketing wedgie when I was stuck and getting nowhere fast. Or asking my reader for their fairie dust so we can make magic together (instead of ‘fill out this survey’).

It takes some serious commitment to stay in the fun zone when we have lots of ambition and drive. But then again, who else can add your soul to your life + biz if you’re not doing it?

In any case, your post made my day.

Here’s to living life the Fun Way, whatever that is!

Maureen Unasa
July 16, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Thank you. Don’t usually comment but fingers have it’s own mind. FUN! Enjoying journey at 3am then getting kids off to school by 9am. It is fun. Guess I have 5 good reasons to keep having fun. My fun sometimes looks serious. Other times it looks confused and overwhelmed. Haha. Thank you for clarifying all the different faces of doing what I love.

James Martin
July 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm

I can 100% relate to the slowing of learning once you see some success.

Every time I try something completely different though, I think to myself “why are you going on all these tangents and wasting time? Just stick to what works and what’s proven”. Sure what I’ve done has worked to some extent, but as you said, if you’re not having fun and trying new things (which is what I love about business) then you need to ask yourself why you’re doing it..

Thanks Noah. This helped me more than you know.

Kyle Van Pelt
July 16, 2014 at 4:12 pm


one of the things that makes me happiest is the freeing feeling you described in another comment that I don’t have to feel the pressure of scaling to a billion. I start to feel burnt out when growth stops feeling organic and feels forced.

I’m always trying to straddle that line. Growth is great, we all want it, but I want it to come because what I’m creating is good.

That all boils down to building quality relationships for me. When I can have coffee or tacos with someone that I recently met, that’s one of my favorite things in the world.

Keep up the awesomeness.

Kyle Van Pelt

July 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm

It’s simple Noah. Analyze what parts of your previous project brought you most JOY, and only do those parts, other parts delegate. Or what stages of projects bring you FUN, and work until that stage then just leave it to the team to finish.

Patrick Foley
July 16, 2014 at 3:44 pm

What’s fun for me is to think. I can think and think and think all day. The hard part for me is putting that thought into action and doing something useful with it. I need to balance those things, because all thought with no action doesn’t pay the bills.

Nice post, Noah. I look forward to the return of capitalization 😉

Susan Lee
July 16, 2014 at 2:54 pm

that was effin fantastic. every line reminded me of why I do what I do + the importance of living a life that is spirit filled. thanks (look ma, no caps for me either)

July 16, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I love to write! For a long time I wanted to be a guru and write, speak and everything else. Now I’m focusing on what I enjoy and good things are happening. My first post for the Huffington Post went live today!!

July 16, 2014 at 2:13 pm

The thing that’s fun to work on is the one that has to happen. Not because it’s being forced to but because it’s automatic. It’s the thing swirling in the head getting put into the real world.


Victoria Tolonen
July 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm

What keeps me up at night is studying how to earn more air miles so I can travel more and work less.

Will Wegert
July 16, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Wow. I am impressed with this post. Thanks for the honesty …

“Having fun with your work” is so important. I guess that’s I quit my job and started Cold Collar. We’re all about helping others find work they love, and work that helps others. I guess for me I want to take it one step further than just the “having fun” part because there is nothing as fulfilling as the feeling of knowing that all the hours went in to help someone else achieve their dreams. I live on those stories … which thankfully are quite frequent.

For example:
-There was the guy who went from $25k per year to $70k after working with me.
-There was the autistic guy who was without work for two years and applied the principles I taught which led to an immediate job offer.
-There was the kid with less than 2 years accounting experience and (and not a CPA, going up against 5 much more highly qualified candidates (all CPA’s), yet after my interview training he not only landed the job, but he did it in style! They were so impressed with him after the first round of interviews they literally canceled the second round and hired him on the spot.

Noah, (+ all entrepreneurs reading this) is’t it the stories like that (I am sure you each have countless of your own) that allow us to push through the “overwhelm”?.

It’s about making a difference. Like you said “all of our generation wants to feel meaning.” … So lets go find it!

July 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Noah, awesome post. I can relate. I just haven’t found what is truly fun for me to work on. I’m caught up the “Shoulds, Musts, and Better Dos” of business and life. How can we find our fun without just muddling through sometimes?

July 16, 2014 at 12:23 pm

Love it! At the end of the day “being fulfilled” matters SO much to me. Its only be recently that I’ve logged on to this. It helps me remember that creating a product simply for the act of creation is payment enough. And then having fun exposing it and seeing if its valuable to others. If it flops I am still left rewarded because I got to CREATE. Someone recently reminded me of the old movie Citizen Kane and the punch line “rosebud”. Can I catch myself enlivened and in love being and doing my own personal rosebud?

Brian Pulliam
July 16, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Great article bro. I had reason to be reading Letters from a Stoic recently (Seneca) and I think you would find it a great value to read. This reminds me of you: “Nothing, however outstanding and however helpful, will ever give me any pleasure if the knowledge is to be for my benefit alone.” -Brian

July 16, 2014 at 11:45 am

Great post. And couldn’t have come at a better time. Sometimes I get so bogged down in the “results” that I forget to focus on the most important things: why I’m doing what I do and what I love so much about it. For you it’s marketing, and for me it’s helping others learn how to code. And every time I get any positive feedback like “That really helped! Thanks!” it makes my heart sore and helps me refocus on on what’s truly important to me: helping others, and having fun doing it.

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