People have a pathological habit of placing “experts” and others they look up to on a pedestal. Their ideas are treated as gold, and all of their words are accepted as worldly wisdom (even if they are absurd).
When your friend Peter tells you something, you tend to ignore it, but if the same idea comes from a guy called Peter Thiel, you might treat it as a revelation.
We tend to give experts infallible statuses. We take their ideas at face value without ever challenging them. On the other hand, we dismiss ideas from non-experts without enough consideration. This is wrong!
Ideas shouldn’t be taken at face value. It doesn’t matter whether they’re coming from experts or non-experts. Unless you have a strong reason—your own reason—to believe in something, it shouldn’t matter even if it’s the best idea in the world.
For example, startups copy ideas every day, but they can get only so much simply by copying. They may get access to the end result, but they don’t get access to the thought process around it: why this solution, why not other solutions, what are the tradeoffs and future prospects, etc. Ideas, unless internalised, don’t have a lot of value in them. They may have some use for a while, but in the long run, they are useless.
By that logic, “Because Bezos said it” should never be a reason to accept an idea. Yes, the people who have earned expertise in a field are more likely to produce thoughts and ideas that are worth consuming but, as I mentioned, blindly accepting them at face value takes us down the wrong path.
Another problem is when we give too much attention to experts, we miss out on the ideas of those around us. Surprisingly, people around us often have just as strong ideas. Often they aren’t very polished or well articulated, but they are just as good in terms of quality and strength. These are gems hidden in plain sight. Be on the lookout for them.
You see, everyone has access to the ideas of celebrities via podcasts, articles, and videos. But if you are consuming what everyone else is consuming, you are thinking what everyone else is thinking. So don’t be surprised if you are getting the results as everybody else is getting.
To have an unfair advantage, you have to look where others are not looking: the countless ideas and perspectives that are spread around you, but aren’t getting any attention. Find ways to stumble upon them serendipitously over meetups and discussions.
Look for the Elons who didn’t become Musk, or the Jeffs who are the future Bezos. Some of them may write thoughtful essays or books read by few. Others may create interesting videos or podcasts that are consumed by a minuscule. These are the people who see things differently—the uncut diamonds, the square pegs in the round holes. Seek them out, learn from them, and internalise their ideas. They are the hidden gems.