I’ve been speaking a lot about the topic of being an expert. I’ve also been interviewing some amazing business owners, whom I consider to be experts, for my new podcast (more info on that coming soon).

With all the speaking and interviews, I’ve noticed that people either embrace or bristle at the words “expert” and “authority.”

What about you?

On several occasions, even before I started focusing on this topic of becoming an authority in one’s field, I’ve heard many business owners say flat out, “I’m not an expert.”

I too have struggled with the idea of being an expert.

Until Oprah.

Guest Expert on Oprah

It was 2005. The Oprah Winfrey Show was planning to do an episode on Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a psychiatric problem that causes people to be preoccupied with imagined or slight physical defects. Oprah’s producers wanted to bring in a medical expert as part of the episode. Our client was at the top of their list.

Dr. Katharine Phillips is the world’s leading authority on BDD and the author of The Broken Mirror. At the time, she was also a psychiatrist working in association with one of our healthcare clients. We scrambled to overnight Dr. Phillips’ book to the producer. We emailed her other television interviews. We coordinated a phone interview between her and the producer. Finally, after a whirl-wind of vetting, the show’s producers booked Dr. Phillips.

As the PR crew, we were going to Oprah too!

I remember sitting in the audience, listening to one of the other guests about her struggles with BDD. “I cry myself to sleep every night because I don’t want to look at myself in the mirror in the morning,” she told Oprah.

When she said, “I don’t understand how God could make someone as hideous as me,” I remember looking at her parents sitting next to Dr. Phillips and seeing the concern and desperation wash over their faces as their young, beautiful daughter publicly shared her deepest, darkest thoughts.

The Power of Authority

That’s when it hit me like a freight train . . .

How many people watching were going through something similar? How many people watching were feeling helpless and not knowing until this very moment, that there is someone out there who can help them?

That’s when I experienced the magnitude of what it means to BE an authority.

While many people referred to Dr. Phillips as a world-renowned expert on BDD, I certainly never heard her call herself one. She also wasn’t the least bit driven by celebrity status or fame either.

What she was, and likely still is, driven by is the desire to educate and advocate for others.

Being an Expert is REALLY About Being THIS

So here’s the straight up truth.

You don’t have to ALREADY be the leading expert on your topic in order to be perceived as one. You don’t even have to call yourself an expert or an authority  . . .

If you’re an educator and advocate for your clients . . .

If you empathize with them . . .

If you help them solve problems and get results for them . . .


You ARE an expert . . . especially in the eyes of the people whom you help the most.

When you can embrace this truth, I promise you’ll feel more confident stepping into your own natural authority.

You’ll become unwaveringly committed to the change you envision for your clients, your industry or, even, the world.

You’ll never NEED to call yourself an expert, because all you really need is to . . .


How are you owning the power and responsibility of being an expert? Let me know in the comments!


  1. Sherry VanAntwerp on April 9, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    What a great perspective on this, thanks for sharing!

  2. Marjorie Turner Hollman on April 9, 2019 at 8:49 pm

    Great perspective–it’s all about what we can do for others. Thank you.

    • storystylist on April 10, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      You’re right Marjorie, and it’s about others determining for themselves whether or not we are an expert in their eyes.

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