29 Mar, 2018 | Writing

I can’t find the tweet, but Pieter Levels tweeted that you should always check the credentials of people who are offering advice. What he means is that you should check whether someone actually knows what they’re talking about. If someone is writing about how to start a company, have they actually started a company? If someone is speaking about growing a viral brand, have they actually grown a viral brand? I think this is good advice.

It made me think about my writing. I write mostly because it helps me to think. But I also want people to read it. So the question follows - what do I have the credentials to write about?

My Credentials

  • Startups - I have worked at three venture-backed startups, for over seven years together. I have a good understanding of what it’s like to work at a startup and what the journey of a startup looks like. I also have some more specific learnings from the commercial teams on startups, which is where I focused. Anyone looking to join a startup could benefit from these learnings.
  • Career - I have spent almost seven years working on my career. In that time I have learned a few things about the process of choosing and developing a career itself.  A young person starting out on their career could benefit from these learnings.
  • Self-growth/Learning - I have spent a lot of time, personally and professionally, learning new things. I enjoy the process of learning and I work to learn things better. Anyone looking to learn something new could benefit from these learnings.
  • Life Observations - I’m living life and observing as I go. I’m not qualified to talk about this, but I’m as qualified as anyone else.

These are the things I can write about with credibility.

My Anti-Credentials

  • Starting companies - I’ve started multiple side-projects. I’ve never started a company.
  • Managing - I’ve done some management in my career, but I wouldn’t call myself a manager. Not yet.
  • Strategy - I have developed some strategy in my career, but not a whole lot.

These are the things I don’t know enough about. I wouldn’t take my advice on these things, so why should anyone else?

Write What I Know

Moving forward, if I’m writing a post that sounds like advice, I’ll stick to what I know.

[Update - 28 Jun 2019] - Since first writing this post I read the book Principles by Ray Dalio. Ray Dalio is one of the worlds most successful hedge fund managers and a deep thinker.

One of his core ideas is the notion of beleivability. Beleivability considers the question “should I beleive this person on this topic”. In other words, do they have the right credentials?

So put another way, when writing blog posts, I try to stay within those topics for which I am beleivable.

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