As tempting as it is to dismiss these men as self-promoting blowhards, you'd be foolish to do it, because they are articulating some fundamental truths about the sweeping changes wrought by technology in recent years. Seth Godin, who founded an online-marketing company that he sold to Yahoo! in 1998 for $30 million, can sound apocalyptic and power-to-the-people utopian about it all. A bald Mr. Clean type with an almost scholarly demeanor, he's given to launching into big-picture soliloquies. "For 150 years," he says, "the key structural element of our society was that people who owned machines, the means of production, had all the power. But the means of production is now a laptop. I'm not saying that everyone needs to be an entrepreneur. What I'm saying is that the winners are the ones who are indispensable. How do you become indispensable? You do something unique with systems that belong to you as opposed to being a slave to somebody else's system."
It's an appealing message—who isn't anti-slavery? And it hints at why all these gurus tend to balk at being labeled gurus, even as they hustle to broaden their own guruhood. "Any company that hires me is crazy," says Laura Day of her get-in-touch-with-your-intuition consultancy, "because you can train your janitor to do this. You can." Of course, it may just be a brutal truth of human nature that even the most open-minded among us are more likely to trust a high-priced consultant than Carl the custodian.
The genius of the Guru Nation theology is that it's pointedly grassroots: Subscribe to the faith and you have your choice of a priest or a rabbi who will teach you how to become your own Almighty Creator.
You can do this all on your own! You can! You really can!
But first, buy my book.