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Ever have an “expert” try to explain something to you, only to be left more confused than when you started?

They’d forgotten how to be a beginner… and lost most of the ability to teach along the way… this week’s video is about how to not make the same mistake yourself.

Got a curse of knowledge story (good or bad)? Share it with us…

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35 Replies to “The Curse of Knowledge”

  1. Hi Jeff & PLF community,

    This video was very contextually relevant for me. I just finished editing and uploading a video to YouTube for my followers (literally, only 40 minutes ago).

    Watching the video now I realize that I hardly explained what I was doing to my audience! (Luckily it wasn’t a sales video!!!)

    My video was just a quick update but STILL, the “Curse of Knowledge” is alive and well. Thank you for bringing the idea to light for us.


  2. I think that is why so many people don’t do well. I know that is why I did not do well online. Communicating properly made a huge difference in my online business. Thanks for reminding me to always keep it in mind.

  3. I agree with You Jeff that very often we assume that if we know something that other people will also understand what we talk about. It can concern everything in our life and it’s just good to remember that simplicity is the key 🙂

    So thank You very much for reminding this.

  4. The curse of knowledge – an interesting concept. All too often we assume too much knowledge from our readers, viewers, or listeners. This is a fascinating video: beautifully communicated and making a necessary point we too often forget.

  5. So true, Jeff! Being good communicators means to be able to listen and to empathize with others–to adapt our message to THEIR NEEDS. Easy to forget this, though! This is a great reminder. Thank you!

  6. To be a teacher and a leader is the greatest gift anybody can have. Deep Knowledge of the domain is crucial but not enough. Teaching methodology is the Art and the Science by itself 😀 Knowledge of putting together the Explanatory Pitch is something every entrepreneur must master to be successful in getting coworkers, investors, and customers! Telling a big story in 60 seconds is NO Joke!

  7. This applies to so many different areas, and I am often surprised with how many folks are digitally naive out there. Items such as hosting & Cpanel accounts, building WordPress sites, using various tools are pretty basic to me and those I associate with, but to many it is ‘techno-speak’ and a mystery!
    So it must be for lots of areas – yep thanks for the reminder!


  8. What if I guessed it the first time?
    Does it mean that we are connected somehow?

  9. Todd Barlow


    Jeff. Your illustration on this video was spot on. My business is not transacted through online launches {at least not yet 🙂 } but this lesson applies to all forms of business. If we get hung up in the details of our expertise or our niche, we often miss opportunities to serve more people and deliver on our dreams. We have to connect with others before a relationship can evolve and take root. Keep up the great work. My best. Todd

  10. Stephanie Sims


    Yep. My old boss was exactly that way, tossing something out and expecting you to get it first time and the being angry when you didn’t. She’d been through 10 people in 13 years but it was always the employees fault. Notice I said, my old boss. This is a trait that runs through the creative fields.

  11. Jeff,
    Beautifully shot video with valuable succinct information.
    P.S. My earworm is now row row row your boat. Thanks ?

  12. I ran into this yesterday. Client ( part of an organization which we both belong to) was very ignorant of the methods I was offering to have a very successful garden- The person had no way of evaluating the benefits of the proven methods I was presenting. Ignorance, confusion, distortions, generalizing and delete compose the windows or filters people use to deal with communications, or events.

    So marketing must always deal with this. Beloved Jesus did with his stories (case studies) example and actions. It is the challenge for
    anyone using teaching in marketing
    Good topic Jeff. What was that song? just kidding
    The self-sustaining garden

  13. Jeff,

    Very true. Dictum is talk in the language of your audience. Now trend in online marketing for web content is ‘your copy should be for 8th or 10th grader’. And there are tools to evaluate copy.

    Thanks for a great insight in your unique style.


  14. Wow! That was amazing how you can forget what you know and assume everyone else knows it! It explains why my communication skills are sometimes so weak especially with my adhd kicking in and rushing me through things! Thank you for reminding me to think like a beginner and skillfully keeping on the path to mastery or goals while teaching or communicating!? Charles

  15. YES.

    I’ve been a writer and editor for more than a decade, and there are so many core concepts that I’ve realized—from tutoring clients—that the experts rarely bother to point out, and that writing tutors in general assume folks already know. I have a lot of experience teaching this, and I’m great when mid-lesson, but…I keep messing up when communicating what, precisely, I can teach a person. I have pieces that are right, but all of it… Nope. My self-sabotaging streak is still running hard, though I’m getting better at outmaneuvering it at least sometimes.

    And then what I need to say, to connect to the beginners who need what I offer, can offend those who actually teach or already know part of what I teach. (I’ve been looking but can’t find anyone teaching precisely what I do. Parts of it? Yes. But not all of it together—and it all belongs together.)

    I know the folks getting offended aren’t my target audience, but it’s still stressful. As if trying to launch the e-course isn’t stressful enough.

  16. This is so true in youth sports. A youth league will hire a former pro as a coach. A parent will use a pro as a mentor. A child will emulate a pro on TV. Mentally, physically, and motivationally the game is much different from the perspective of a child.

  17. Hi Jeff, I listen to and enjoy your business advice weekly. It is so true that we MUST look at things through the eyes of our prospect. As the president of a solar energy company, for 30 years, it is critical to NOT tell your customer everything you know, or to try to make things complicated. KISS is so important. Often when we get more and more knowledge, we try to impress others with all we know, and their eyes glaze over like a frogs. We can use our knowledge to answer succinctly any question posed, and then help the person with our service. Best to you,Frank McLaughlin

  18. So accurate to make your preso to the target market you are working with. At my solar pool heating company, we explain the system and benefits very simply, so much so that I sometimes feel like we are too basic. It IS too basic for us, and repetitive in that we have done it this way for 30 years, but it is very effective. Love your enthusiasm, Frank McLaughlin

  19. As a ceo of a videostorytelling agency, I have dealt with this for a long time. I wrote about it often.
    It’s a marketing mindset that needs to be constantly worked on in order to better connect with our clients.

  20. Beautifully communicated Jeff! I often point this out to my clients using the example a college professor gave me: she called it “COIK” on our papers. Of course we didn’t know what she meant, and had to ask. “It’s an acronym for Clear Only If Known. It only makes sense if I already know what you’re talking about,” she said. “Now go re-write it.”

  21. So important and a great eye opener!, I get stumped for new things to teach, yet maybe I need to be looking at new and improved ways to teach things better! Thank you 😀

  22. One of the best tips or concepts I ever learned about sales, marketing and communication was to write everything at a grade 5 level. It’s hard when you have an extensive vocabulary and LOTS that you want to share but usually LESS is MORE.

    Sounds weird but to be an effective communicator we have to DUMB it down a bit.

    Great post and video.

  23. Great message and illustration about the curse of knowledge. I know I am guilty of making a lot of assumptions when attempting to communicate things. It is definitely something to think about. Thanks!

  24. Awesome Jeff!
    I’ve been following you for a while now and this video is particularly well timed:
    I’m looking to start a seed launch for a new book and online course and I’ve been writing my notes for the first session.
    I’ve been scratching my head, thinking “this stuff is so simple, surely they’ll have heard it all before” and then trying to tell myself that in fact, what is easy for me is not so easy for others – and that’s why my initial prospects are so keen to be on the launch!
    Thanks for the reminder.

  25. I totally knew the song before you said it. Great now it’s going to be in my head all day.
    Well at least it replaces the other song that’s been struck in my head for a couple of days.

  26. Beginner’s mind is a key foundational principle of broad yoga. Thanks for the reminder in this context. Your teaching is much respected, Jeff and Team. Namaste.

  27. E Olivia Lane


    Jeff, your video was ‘right on time,’ as I had a conversation with another entrepreneur today about this very subject.

  28. Pingback: “Why didn’t I get the sale?” - BrandCrap

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