You know more than you think you know


Monday night I slept horribly.

It was one of those nights.

I fell asleep fine, but I woke up around 3 am with my mind spinning.

  • What I needed to do
  • Who I had to follow up with
  • The email I needed to send

Sound familiar?

But what really kept me up was the thought of a podcast interview I had coming up on Wednesday.

I was anxious about it.

Not because I don’t do podcast interviews or because I don’t like to talk with people.

Trust me….I’m a talker.  (Just ask my wife).

The podcast I was going to be a guest on was Josh Elledge’s Thoughtful Entrepreneur.

He’s the founder of upmyinfluence, runs a daily podcast, and has a big audience of experienced entrepreneurs.

And that last part had me worried. Worried that what I was going to say wouldn’t be valuable for these seasoned business owners and leaders.

I was suffering from something nearly everybody experienced professional, business owner, or entrepreneur suffers from, especially those that have been doing something for a long time and know a lot about their field.

I was suffering from the curse of knowledge.


What is the Curse Of Knowledge?

The curse of knowledge is a cognitive bias where we assume others have the same understanding or knowledge about a given topic.

And as a brand messaging and marketing strategist, this is pretty much what I help my clients solve on a daily basis.

When you know so much about your business, product, or service, it’s really hard to talk about what you do in a way that makes sense to your customers because you can’t remember your customers don’t have the same base understanding as you do.

So you use terms, acronyms, and words that make sense to you but make zero sense to your customers because they don’t know what you know.

But that’s not the only way the curse of knowledge affects you.  I’ve found it also makes us undervalue and underappreciate what we know because we think “if I know this, then everybody must know this”, which makes us second guess our expertise.

Even though I’m well versed in seeing and experiencing my customer’s curse of knowledge, it doesn’t mean I’m immune to it.

Fortunately, I had my interview with Josh yesterday and it was a big success!

In fact, after we stopped recording, he genuinely said it was a great interview, that I had great stories and examples, and what I talked about would be highly valuable for his audience.

That’s a big compliment from a guy that interviews a lot of people…I’m talking about hundreds, if not thousands of people.

Going back to the beginning of this whole thing, the reason I was anxious and worried was that I had forgotten that not everybody is as well-versed as I am in brand messaging, marketing, and copywriting.

I was suffering from the curse of knowledge.

And this led me to question and undervalue the knowledge and skills I have.

Which leads me to you…

And the experiences and knowledge you may be undervaluing.

  • What do you know that you undervalue just because you know it?
  • What experiences do you have that you discredit because you experienced it?
  • What skill do you have that makes you special but you think isn’t so special?

I’m willing to bet there are several things you can think of right now where you’re discrediting your value because of the curse of knowledge.


How to overcome the curse of knowledge

1. Get outside your circle

If you work in an office or run in a circle of friends that have the same types of jobs, you probably assume everybody knows what you and your group knows.

They don’t.

Get outside of your regular circle and speak to people that aren’t as experienced in what it is you do.

You’ll be amazed to realize how much you actually know.

2. Teach, Speak, Do

Every time I’ve hosted a webinar, workshop, gave a speech or had a podcast interview, it’s reminded me of the things I’ve learned, the skills I’ve developed, and the knowledge I’ve accumulated that I can share with others so they can overcome the problems they’re dealing with as it relates to their business, messaging, and marketing.

What opportunities are there for you to teach, speak, or talk about to others?  It doesn’t have to be some formal presentation or platform.

It can simply be talking to someone you know.

But when you’re forced to stop and think about what it is you know and how you can communicate it in a way that helps others, it helps you remind yourself of what you actually know.

Plus, it’s ideally a great value to the person or people on the other end.

3. Create a “How I know this sh*t works” list

As time passes, it’s easy to forget the accomplishments, victories, or moments of success you’ve had.

And inevitably other scenarios like the one I described above will come around again.  So to avoid repeating the same sleepless night experience, I create a list that I call my “How I know this sh*t works” list.

Meaning, anytime I start to second guess myself, I review my list to remind myself of the moments, victories, or accomplishments that I’ve had like helping a client increase their website conversion rate with copywriting I created, or a time where I wrote an email series for a client that generated thousands of dollars, or in this scenario where I second-guessed my ability to deliver in a podcast interview but ended up having a great interview.

This is what badass former Navy Seal and crazy endurance athlete David Goggins refers to as his “cookie jar”.

In his “cookie jar,” he has every failure and eventual success he’s had where he overcame a hurdle he was dealing with.

Because in Goggin’s words, “you have to remind yourself how badass you really are in times of need.”


Don’t let the curse of knowledge make you second guess the experience, knowledge, or skills you have.

Now stop and ask yourself:

  • What do I know that other people may not?
  • What experiences do I have that not everybody has?
  • What accomplishments have I had that should never forget?

And remember, not everybody knows what you know so never assume they have the same level of knowledge.

If you assume they do, you’re probably losing them.

I’d love to hear from you.  Have you had a similar experience?  Share it in the comments below.

How did it turn out for you?

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