5 Unlikely Rules for Financial Success: Stop Doing What Experts Teach and Start Doing What Experts Do

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When it comes to earning more money, we often look to experts for guidance.

We want to learn how to invest or how to build our own business or how to negotiate for a higher salary … and so we turn to accomplished experts for advice.

There is nothing wrong with this process and if you have time to sort through everything, then you’ll find lots of good information out there.

But while you’re soaking up each golden nugget of information be sure to look beyond the ideas of the expert and into their processes and actions.

For example, finance experts often preach about investing in mutual funds, but they actually make their money selling books and speaking at conferences. You see, many experts are giving great advice, but they are actually living out better advice.

My take? Stop doing what experts teach and start doing what experts do.

The entire focus of Passive Panda is to teach you what to DO to earn more money.

Here are five immediate areas you can focus on that are the foundation of many successful experts and will surely help you earn more money regardless of your situation.

1. Experts provide real value.

Real experts provide real value. They focus on using the information they have to help others.

On your end, it doesn’t matter if you want to be seen as an expert or not. You have to contribute something to the conversation. You need to focus on providing value, regardless of your position. Information moves too fast in today’s world and if you aren’t holding up your end, then people will know. Fakes and frauds are outed in a heartbeat.

Experts commit to helping others long before money is exchanged. Don’t wait to start contributing in whatever way you can.

2. Experts always look one level up.

Teaching is the highest form of learning and true experts are always searching for better ways to do their craft.

They are always looking one level up to round out their skill set and improve their abilities. There is always something new to learn.

Think about the skills and talents you need to accomplish your job or reach your goals. Who are the people that are one level up in those areas? What can you learn from them? How can you get in touch with them?

3. Experts focus on the process, not the product.

It’s easy to want the Gold Medal, the hard part is training like an Olympian. Everyone loves the product, but very few people enjoy the process.

If you want to master your craft, then your actions need to follow a consistent process.

Millions of people want to lose weight, but only a few want to eat better each day and exercise frequently. Everyone wants the product, no one wants the process.

Consistent focus on the process will create extraordinary results.

4. Experts spend time on actions that can scale.

Experts, by definition, are known for their expertise. Well, you can’t become known if your name doesn’t make the rounds.

For that reason, experts focus on actions that scale.

Now, you might be saying, “But I don’t really care if I’m well-known or not.”

Doesn’t matter. You should still focus on actions that scale. Why? Because they dramatically improve your earning power. (Why do you think so many experts are wealthy?)

Why do you think finance experts put their time and effort into writing books and hosting conferences rather than working a steady job and investing in their 401k? It’s because they know that a book sales and speaking events can scale their income quickly.

I’m not saying you should quit your job and become a professional speaker, but if you want to reach the wealth level of an expert, then you need to think about earning methods that scale.

5. Experts reach out to other experts.

It doesn’t matter what you know, if you can’t get the information into the right hands, then you’re not going anywhere.

Experts have the courage to reach out and build relationships with other experts. You need to show the same courage.

Building a network that can help you accomplish your goals is a critical step in success. It’s takes time, but it’s well worth it. That’s why knowing how to email important people is so critical.


Regardless of whether or not you follow these five steps, it is crucial to understand that what high-earners are doing, not just what they are saying.

See the process behind the presentation.

29 Responses to 5 Unlikely Rules for Financial Success: Stop Doing What Experts Teach and Start Doing What Experts Do

  1. Awesome article, thanks! I’m especially curious to hear your thoughts on retirement funding, from an entrepreneur’s perspective. I have a small amount in a Roth IRA (a la carte stock trading), I’m torn about whether or not to build it. On one hand, I can take out the initial investment penalty-free when needed; on the other hand, I’d have access to the interest if it weren’t tied up in an IRA. As an entrepreneur, it seems best to keep cash liquid, and instead invest in my earning potential, though it’s hard to tell if that’s really my 26-yr-old mind speaking. :) What are your thoughts?

    • Sam Cofer says:


      Those are great points in your reply to James’ article. I’m 27 and I ask those questions, myself. So for what it’s worth, its not just you. :) If you don’t mind me interjecting, I was taught that investing in real estate was a good move retirement. I don’t just mean investing for appreciation purposes, because, as I’m sure you are experiencing real estate fluctuates, just like other investments fluctuate. But, investing in real estate for cashflow purposes. I think that that will be one of the personal retirement vehicles I use now and in the future. What do you think?

      • Hi Sam, thanks for the input! Are you talking about buying and renting out real estate, to pay the mortgage with a profit? Hmm.. I’ve heard of many people doing well from that. As a freelancer working to start a product business, I keep a lot of my time free and make less – so I’m not sure I personally could convince banks to loan me the funds for a second mortgage. If you do it, I’d love to hear how it works for you! :)

        • Sam Cofer says:

          Hey Katie!

          That’s exactly what I’m talking about… Cashflow is key. But, I understand what you mean… However, once your business gets up and running and you creating a profit, you may be able to take some of your dollars and put them into real estate. You don’t necessarily have to take out a second mortgage, although some people do that, too…Just a thought. I do plan on doing it myself, in the near future. I’m in the process of creating a business as well that will open up a few more income streams too. What type of business are you creating?

    • James Clear says:

      I’ll preface this by saying that I’m not a certified investment expert and your choices are your own (although I’m sure you already knew that).

      On a personal level, I’m investing heavily in my “earning potential” as you put it. That’s mostly because I trust myself to perform and I know I’ll make back much more than what I am initially putting in.

      That said, your choice is going to be based on how you view the trade-off.

      Here are the facts: 1) You’re not going to be a 35-year-old millionaire because you maxed out your Roth IRA each year. Investing in your earning potential, building a business, and creating real value and real impact is the only way to make millions soon.

      2) Building a business and maximizing your earning potential is hard. It’s going to take a lot of work, consistent effort, and difficult sacrifices. It’s possible, but it’s not easy.

      It really comes down to how much you trust yourself. If you believe that you can make it happen, then I say go for it. Otherwise, play it safe.

      I’ll finish by saying that you can always give it a run now and catch up to everyone else in a year or two. If you try to build a business at 26, fail after a year or two, and have to go back to a real job at 29… well, you gave it a run and by 35 you’re going to be in the same spot as everyone else.

      • Cool, thanks for your opinion. :) Great answer, very much in line with my intuition.. I sometimes have a difficult time having the confidence to admit I trust myself, though I do fully trust myself (if that makes any sense). And I’d rather having failed by 29, than regret being too safe – I can’t think of the last big risk I took that wasn’t worth it. So, win-win. :)

      • Sam Cofer says:

        These are great points James!! That’s exactly what my plan is… I started a couple of business when I was 23 and failed. But that experience helped me and now I’m back into creating a new business. I did have to get a 9-5, but that’s okay, because my ultimate goal is to get a business up and running. So, if I fail, I’ll do it again until I succeed. This is great information you are providing us with!! Thanks again!!

    • Jason says:

      I’d suggest aapl through optionshouse.com

      What do u mean by “build it”? Where are you invested now?

  2. Sam Cofer says:

    This is great article James!! It definitely helps put things in perspective as to how successful people become successful people. Being able to replicate what you see a successful person do is a major factor in your becoming successful. Its easy to watch, but, putting into action what you learn and see is what many choose not to do! Thanks again for the insight!!

  3. James, this was a really timely article as I’m writing a lot about creating a scalable business at the moment.

    I don’t think experts try to be hypocrites by recommending one thing but in reality doing more or other things than that – it’s just that they adapt it to the level where their audience is. However, by taking a step back and looking at what they do themselves, as you suggest, you’ll get much quicker progress. Great read!

    • James Clear says:

      Hey Isabelle,

      Agreed. I don’t think they are intentionally being hypocritical. Probably the opposite, they are trying to be very valuable.

      My point is simply that you shouldn’t expect to get the lifestyle they have by following what they teach. For that, you need to follow what they do.

      Glad you enjoyed the article!

      • Agree with you on that – saying “just write a few NY Times bestsellers, go on a worldwide speaking tour and create a super-popular blog” will not be of much help to most people :)

        Modelling is really powerful when it comes to avoiding mistakes and getting results quickly. James, what experts are you taking inspiration from and modelling?

  4. Great advice (as always!), but the one that’s resonating with me most right now is #3. It’s so easy to want something big, but it’s another thing to put in the work necessary to achieve it.

    I’m working my butt of right now on a big goal that I expect to reach within the next 5-11 months. I know exactly what I need to do, but just knowing that doesn’t make it easier to follow through every day. I know it’ll be worth it in the end, but seeing past the day to day struggle is a challenge!

    Thanks for the encouragement :)

    • James Clear says:

      Yep. Consistent effort is what separates the winners and the losers.

      That said, you need to be consistently focusing on the right things as well.

  5. Patricia Borton says:

    I am in the same boat as you. A day-to-day struggle and a challenge, but I agree, it will be worthwhile in the end.

    James, enjoyed the article #3 hits the nail on the head.

  6. These are quite interesting and I would like to follow.

  7. sophie says:

    This is a great list! I agree, networking is a great way to make it.

  8. “Don’t wait to start contributing in whatever way you can.”

    So true James. #1 is sometimes the issue for me. Get past the analysis and on to the doing. “…in whatever way you can,” is key. Emphasize “contribute” above the “way” or paralysis sets in.

    Take the smallest step you can.

    Great info as usual!

    Thanks James

  9. Bravo, James!

    Exemplary post and topic with a beautiful twist.

    I’ve come to realize it’s simply not enough to provide your target audience with helpful, useful, valuable information. To acquire that all-important “expert” status, you need to give them viable information they can implement right away!

    I love an off-the-beaten path post,
    Melanie :-)

  10. Tram Tran says:

    Cool James, I’m 20 and running a few small biz (very small in fact) and have been learning from the experts one way or another. One thing I notice is the power of doing now. if you think of any new idea, start researching, ask around about that particular idea/ do something about it, don’t let it cool down or you will lose the interest. Hardly anyone teaches about this, but experts do it and it works for me. What do you guys think?

  11. Joyce says:

    No one really wants to do that. We just want a quick magic pill to leap up forward to huge cash.

    Thanks for sharing the truth that we all need some elbow grease, take action and learnt from does before us.

  12. Will says:

    Your post is perfectly illustrated by the contrast between book, “Crush It”, and its author,Gary Vaynerchuck.
    -The book sucked. There was no Value. It was Vague. It did not make its users more awesome.
    Clearly, some people can Do, but not Teach. The only thing that got Crushed was the bank accounts of the faithful.

    +Also, fyi: For Investing/Speculating, people might consider checking out:
    “The Intelligent Investor”, by Benjamin Graham
    “One Up On Wall Street”, by Peter Lynch
    “A Beginner’s Guide To Short-Term Trading”, by Toni Turner

  13. Maia says:

    Great article and really relevant! Do you mind if I repost on my blog?

  14. Clint Moar says:

    Thanks James. It’s funny how long some of us have gone without realizing your points. I used to be a good, loyal worker bee who thought that I’d be taken care of. Now, I can’t stop watching/learning processes and looking for the opportunities waiting for the taking. Speaking and communicating are huge for rising above the average.

  15. Ted Chandler says:

    I’m a medical researcher in how the Biology of Accomplishment can be trained through
    mastering concrete techniques in the development of a side income business
    to restore balance to the body’s self-regulating systems. One large study actually
    demonstrated remarkable reductions in the incidence of Death, Type 2 Diabetes, and
    Obesity when entrepreneurial activity reached a “Tipping Point” of about 20% of the
    population. I’ve been searching for clear, specific, actionable techniques and your work
    is by far the best I’ve found. I am creating an entity to help people who are living below their capabilities live more abundantly. I would love to establish dialogue leading to
    collaboration. What are your policies, principles, and procedures for that?
    Ted Chandler
    P.S. I’m an Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Wake Forest University.

  16. Ivan says:

    Very interesting insights, James!

    I especially agree with point #3. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of “overnight success” because it sounds so magical. Unfortunately (or fortunately), real life success comes down to mastering a consistent process. Success is rarely “overnight” for the best of the best.

    That being said, it’s really hard to stay consistent. It gets even harder when things don’t go your way. So, James, thanks for reminding us to stay the course!

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