In Praise of the No Names

My friend Austin just started as a freshman at the University St. Andrew’s in Scotland and posts about his economics class. His original lecturer was a fantastic teacher — fun, passionate about the topic, and full of personal stories. He took a leave of absence but said "Fear not, be excited, my replacement is one of the preeminent economists in the UK." The "preeminent economist," it turns out, is not as engaging or interesting, and not as good a teacher.

Why do people assume a Nobel Laureate in economics will teach economics better than an economist at, say, a liberal arts college? Why do entrepreneurs assume only the top 10 most successful businesspeople can impart the most important wisdom?

The people who’ve taught me the most about business? You probably wouldn’t recognize a single name!

There are two lessons here for me.

1. Being really good at something doesn’t mean you can teach it.

2. The celebrity effect unfortunately obscures the thousands of no names who can be more helpful in your life and your business than people with high name recognition.

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