Day 1: Launches a startup. Day 2: Tells everyone else how to build a successful startup.

A few weeks ago I talked to a Mixergy fan who was having trouble with his business.

He said, “I even tried content marketing.”

“Let me see it,” I said.

He showed me his blog. I won’t embarrass him by linking to it here, but it’s the standard new founder’s blog, full of pontification about what it takes to be successful.

How many guys like that have you seen? They start businesses and immediately pretend to be business experts.

I’m not putting anyone down. I’ve done it too. I wish I kept my first Typepad blog so I could show you my ‘business wisdom.’ I’m just saying there’s an easier way, one that feels more natural.

Consider another approach: instead of being the master expert, try being curious. I’ve been doing it here on Mixergy for years, and others have joined me.

Dan Blank is interviewing authors he admires. Can you imagine how much he’s learning about publishing by asking questions instead of pretending to have all the answers?

Kevin Dewalt is using interviews to learn about his customers. He says every time he does an interview, people he talks to help him promote it. (That happens to me all the time on Mixergy.)

Ramit Sethi, who encouraged me when I launched Mixergy Premium, is selling his interviews through a membership site.

Trent Dyrsmid interviewed me. He picked my brain about what I learned from selling on Mixergy. A few minutes ago I checked his site and noticed he implemented the idea that lit up his eyes during that interview.

I know your favorite blogger might be telling you to have strong opinions and show the world how smart you are. If you tried it and it didn’t feel right, consider being curious. I bet it won’t be long before people actually want to read what you have to say about business success.

If you need help, I wrote this basic text document that will let you copy my format. Many of your favorite online interviewers started out by reading it. Grab the interview guide.

  • Idahosa


  • Matthew Jancosek

    I agree 100%. I have an old rule and that is the 80/20 rule. I will talk 20% of the time and listen the other 80%, you will be surprised on how much information is given.

  • Andrew Warner


  • Andrew Warner

    Good rule.

  • Geoffrey L. Barrows

    Unfortunately it can be difficult to tell that an author or blogger doesn’t really know what they are talking about until they start talking about something you actually know about!

  • jr_sci

    Listening to your interview with Trent. Should be a nice one.

    You should talk about Derek from Social Triggers how he works on his site. He won’t even ask and you have already commented and shared his posts.

  • Andrew Warner

    What do you mean? I like Derek. How can I have him on? What do you have in mind?

  • Andrew Warner

    There are some people who are really good at BS. I’ve had people crumble in pre-interviews. Their stories fall apart after a few questions.

  • Idahosa

    Hey Andrew, do you ever put mixergy fans (like myself) in contact with interviewees by request? I wanted to connect with Jermaine Griggs – his business is similar to my own and I know he’d have a lot of life-altering advice to give me. Thanks!

  • Martin S.

    I’d also recommend reading more than you write. The next time I read a vague & derivative post about the wonders of leadership or risk-taking, I’m gonna stalk the author and pelt them with books on political theory and mathematics.

    Also, relevant xkcd:

  • Emil Hajric

    unfortunately, being humble is a revolutionary concept in the startup world.

  • Andrew Warner

    What we usually do is forward your email to the guest and let him decide what to do.

  • Idahosa

    Cool- I just sent an email through the form in the “help” section of this site. Please let me know if there’s something else I should do. Thanks a lot!

  • Nick

    I like this. Andrew – is there a process you use to see if someone is legit or not? I am starting to coach people and would love to know what I need to work on to be more effective at helping them.

  • Mike Colella

    This is the biggest problem, and it’s why so many people are out there BSing their way through. It’s relatively easy to talk about a subject that most people know nothing about, and have everyone think that what you are saying is insightful or true, when it may be neither :)

  • Andrew Warner

    Thanks Mike. That’s why I asked you to screenshare when we first met. I felt crappy about asking, but I’m paranoid about interviewees lying to me.

  • wizzra

    I’ll never write about stuff I never experienced before. However, I experienced a lot, so I am going to write about it :)

  • Jennifer

    Great topic! So true about people feeling like they have to know it all from the beginning.

  • Toby

    Any telltale signs before the pre-interview? I bet a lot of people would like to hear some of these stories..

  • Andrew Warner

    Yes, but not enough. And I can’t say what the signs are because I don’t want people to manipulate our system.

  • Andrew Warner


  • Andrew Warner

    Go for it.

  • Andrew Warner

    Hmm, @twitter-1131646574:disqus asked above and I said I didn’t feel comfortable saying it, but I guess I should open up more.

    Durring a pre-interview, the best way to know if someone doesn’t have the goods is if they don’t have examples of what they’ve done that I can see. Real doers don’t use endless hypotheticals. They say, “I did….” and get specific. Fake ones talk in generalities, or bring up the same 37 signals examples that they only read about remotely.

  • Andrew Warner


  • Andrew Warner

    Great link!

  • James Kennedy

    I catch myself doing this all the time and it makes me want to puke. I think I do it as a way of talking through my own plans put loud. Admitting weakness is also hard to pull off without sounding like you are giving up.

Get Mixergy Premium for instant access to over 1,000 interviews and over 150 courses.