The Blowhard Curve: When To Lead Thoughts Or Leave Them.

Find yourself and your organization on the curve.

Alex Kantrowitz


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Each one of us possesses a certain amount of wisdom. And today, we can share it frictionlessly, on various channels, and without limit. Overall, this is a good thing. But once we get going, it’s easy to keep tweeting, blogging, and writing LinkedIn broetry until we have nothing left to say, and then some. After enough exposure, anyone, even the wisest among us, can start sounding like a windbag.

Knowing when to hit pause is therefore a crucial skill in 2021. But it’s not as simple as finding the line and deciding not to cross it. The journey from sage to blowhard is instead a progression, one involving several steps and tradeoffs between being authoritative and overexposed.

The Blowhard Curve, as illustrated above, is how I think about this progression. It’s something that’s vital for any person or organization sharing thoughts online today to understand. Let’s walk through the journey together:

Stage 1: The Cave Of Mostly Silent Wisdom

People who inhabit the first section of the curve have a wealth of knowledge but largely keep it to themselves. They have little authority (Y-Axis) because they rarely speak up. But they’re also far from Blowhard Territory because they’re minimally exposed (X-Axis). The Cave of Mostly Silent Wisdom is a fine place for many people to be — no one says you have to be a thought leader. Though things get more interesting as we start to ascend the chart.

Stage 2: Brilliance Hill

Some people speak selectively, but almost everything they say is a revelation. Since they’re somewhat underexposed, they’re mostly discussing things they know well, which adds credibility to their words and helps them build authority. These people are on Brilliance Hill. While they leave some opportunities to share their wisdom on the table, they almost always sound smart. So life on Brilliance Hill is pretty great.

Stage 3: Salience Summit



Alex Kantrowitz

Veteran journalist covering Big Tech and society. Subscribe to my newsletter here: