The headline on this one says it all. I am not an expert. I have no clue wtf I’m doing most of the time.

It’s scary to admit that, though.

Having spent most of my adult life within the Online Marketing Industrial Complex™, I've been conditioned to value expertise, and to perform expertise for audiences.

For years, I played the game where I regurgitated ideas other people figured out, but in a confident, authoritative way. And truthfully, there’s plenty of need for that in the world. I’m still proud of a lot of the work I put out into the indie filmmaking space.

But operating from a place of Expertise™ doesn’t excite me anymore. It doesn't feel like who I am, or who I want to be.

Increasingly, my goal with Ungated is to wade into uncharted territory. I’m trying to develop a new philosophy of marketing and business over here, one that’s rooted in a completely different set of first principles—friendliness, play, non-coercion, and cheerfully subverting the status quo.

There are no “right answers” or “best practices” for how to create such a philosophy. I have to get down in the mud, be curious, run experiments, fail a lot, and document what I’m learning along the way. I have to be willing to look stupid. Which is wildly uncomfortable given my years of conditioning.

That’s why I’m playing with the labels of imperfectionist, explorer, and learner this year. Because they help me break free from my old pattern of trying to be perceived as intelligent. Instead, they help me get out of my head, into the world, and then share my thoughts openly, honestly, and imperfectly.

But here’s a funny thing you might notice as you browse Ungated. Those years of conditioning are still baked into the way I write, speak, and even think. A lot of my writing still looks and feels like I’m trying to project certainty and expertise into the world.

I write a lot of short, declarative sentences. I hedge less than I used to. And I’ve got some strong opinions that I increasingly lean into. And I suspect that style makes it hard to tell that I’m actually floundering about in a constant state of uncertainty.

Basically, I hold one set of values around humility and exploration, but my style seems to betray those values. It’s a weird tension, and I don’t know how to reconcile it. Or even if I should try to reconcile it.

But, as with many things, bringing awareness to a problem can be curative. I’m going to keep writing, keep noticing when my expert conditioning shows up, and keep trying to steer this stylistic ship into territory that’s more aligned with my values.