Experts, Leaders, Arrogant People, and Wannabes

Experts, Leaders, Arrogant People, and Wannabes

What struck me most during the 1st World Robot Patent Drafting Symposium back in September 2022 (click here) was the following statement of one of the speakers:

This is what many patent attorneys think: their favourite work is their own, and other attorneys only produce garbage.

While that statement was made in the context of qualifying patent attorneys for using a patent drafting robot (the point was that you have to let go of that attitude if you want to use a patent drafting robot), my experience with a patent attorney colleague today reminded me to the event last year: I found myself in a talk where my talking partner, a lawyer and patent attorney, never let me finish my sentences, and jumped from one assumption to another one. My talking partner ended up in what were obviously wrong conclusions.

This was a truly strange situation.

Here is some knowledge that helped me cope with that situation.


Ways to Cope with Strange People

I was in a good mood and being naturally curious, I tried to understand my talking partner’s behavior. Sometimes I don’t, and just walking away is the easier way out in these cases.

Being in a good mood also made it easier for me to treat him with respect and kindness. That is the start of every true conversation, and it is always good to remind myself of that.

One difficult part is being patient and addressing his wrong assumptions and his wrong conclusions, and I must say that this is often not even possible if my discussion partner does not want to listen.

Another difficult part is to walk away from such an encounter without being frustrated.

Here is what helps me: I put that talking partner into one of the following drawers: Expert & Leader, Arrogant, or Wannabe.

And if this helps me it may also help you.

Here is how that distinction works.



You just have to determine two simple features for determining that there is some arrogance, it comes with two aspects:

a) a person is better to their peers, and

b) that person lets his peers feel that he is better.

Easy, right?

I can sympathize with truly arrogant people because I like to work with people who are masters in their trade, being superior in what they do. Further, if they do something in a wrong way, because of negligence, or if they make a mistake because of lack of knowledge, it is easy to correct them. I can directly address their conscience if they do not recognize their mistake by just addressing it.  Arrogant people would change without admonishing them. That shortens communication a lot. Arrogant people have a high self-esteem and they don’t take it personally when they need to correct themselves.

What some find disturbing about arrogant people is that these individuals show a high self-importance and they often lack genuine empathy. However, the root cause of this problem is found in the person that has to deal with an arrogant individual: truly arrogant people often demean and belittle others in order to assert their superiority. That often comes with an attitude of even patronizing their superiority. This is sometimes hard to take for people who promote humility as a value, and especially for those who do not master their trade.


Experts & Leaders

There is a thin line between being perceived as arrogant or as an expert and leader.

There are situations where a person that is genuinely superior to their peers – and that also behaves in a way that makes sure they feel this – is described as “dominant” or “high-achieving”, which means in a more positive way than just tagging them as “arrogant”. This is often with people that have learned to behave so that they do this in a way that is not belittling: they are superior and others recognize it, without this person asserting it in a negative way.

Take this with a pinch of salt: from what I have seen in my life I can say that there is no true expert and no true leader in this world that is not sometimes asserting his positive traits in a negative way. That comes from the fact that leaders have to address the uncomfortable, which often leads to situations where they have to admonish someone or even address the conscience of those who failed in their responsibilities.

Examples of people that were experts and leaders in the above sense but often also arrogant are General George Patton, Ray Croc, and Steve Jobs. Read about them if you have time.



Then there are those who consider themselves superior to their peers and makes sure they feel it, but they are in reality inferior to their peers.

These people are described as “delusional”, they suffer from “illusory superiority.” They overestimate their own qualities and abilities, in comparison to others. They are “pretentious” and attempting to seem important and intelligent by claiming qualities or abilities that they do not possess.

I am sure that you have met such people before.


You are now ready for some signposts that may help you to discern between arrogant people that can be leaders and experts, and those wannabes who cannot.


I have found the above table on Perry Marshall’s website or in one of his email newsletters, but I do not remember where. Sign up for Perry’s newsletter, this is highly recommended (click here).



You cannot simply walk away from arrogant people when they step on your toes.

A better way is to discover their true qualities, and – most importantly – whether they are really good or just wannabes.

Wannabes do not deserve mercy. Eliminate them from your life, better today than tomorrow.

And never be a wannabe yourself.


Martin “facts” Schweiger

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