What are your credentials?

Have you ever been in a situation where the impact of your message is diminished by your “lack” of credentials? Credentials in this context refers to titles such as: Phd., MD, Best Selling Author, etc… I have been speaking a lot more than last year since January this year. I have noticed that almost every time I give a speech to a group that experiences me for the first time, someone in the audience always asks me: “What are your credentials?”. That makes me happy because when someone asks for your credentials, there are only two possible reasons:

  • The good one: You did very well and the person wants one more way to remember and quote you in the future.
  • The not so good one: You used too much information from other people you did not quote appropriately and the person wants to know if you have never heard of plagiarism.

I personally believe in my case, it is the first reason. The best speakers are those who make a memorable impression on their audiences. Every time I get up to speak, my objective is to make a permanent impression on my listeners and be the catalyst for a positive change in at least one person’s life in the audience. If I achieve that, I really don’t mind having “no credentials”.

image source: http://www.transparencyrevolution.com/

We all have stories to tell. Our lives are stories worth telling because there is a message in your life story that can bring light or speak to someone else’s life. Your life experiences are the best credentials you will ever have. People don’t care about a Phd., as much as they care about the reason or story that lead you to pursue the Phd. People care more about the challenges you had to overcome in the process of pursuing the Phd, than they care about how much more money you make after the Phd.

A good number of the greatest figures of our century did not have any form of formal education, if any, very little. You don’t need credentials to share the lessons you learn from life with an audience that can benefit from your experiences. What are your thoughts on that?