When I worked in law enforcement, it was very clear to me that I was an expert in the field of Criminal Intelligence. I had studied for over 10 years, taken exams and passed all of them. I had read every book, gone to all the seminars and had other experts mentor me. Only a handful of people in the world knew more than me.
It was very simple to see that I was good at what I did and that I was an expert at this field.
And…. then I started a business and things became way less tangible.
Let me be clear by saying here I don’t have a degree in business but I KNOW business.
I have spent the last three years absorbing all the information I can – but here is the thing – it was way less structured. It was podcasts, blogs, webinars, articles, Google social media posts… and a lot of these people weren’t exactly industry experts. But still, I learned. I learned bits and pieces from everyone. I filled in blanks using Google when I needed too. But I still learned a lot.
During this time, I got introduced as the ‘social media expert’ at a conference and spent the rest of the afternoon fielding questions about social media from the audience from stage and then later at the after party. I answered, successfully, I should add, everything from hashtags to platforms to ‘but what is an algorithm?’ Thank goodness for wine.
The following day I was telling my business coach (FYI: good business coaches have business coaches, just so you know) about this and saying ‘I’m uncomfortable with being labelled an expert.’
He laughed. ‘You know your stuff better than anyone. You answered everything correctly. Remember J, You only need to be one step ahead to lead.’ MIC DROP MOMENT. Thank you Matt.
And I think this is fundamentally a problem across business. We are uncomfortable with the word EXPERT. I wanted men in white coats stroking a moustache giving me a structured process again, where I’m playing a game where the social medial platforms change DAILY.
So I propose we look at the term expert differently.
Look, you need to know your shit. You have to know it inside and out.
But you have to be dedicated in knowing more and maintaining and growing your knowledge base on a daily basis. You need to maintain an interest.
I learned a lot of the things I teach now the hard way. I made mistakes and then did it again. So, I’ll wear my expert in becoming an expert hat well. No exams are currently required.