I was having conversation with some friends the other day about a silly premise: A 3rd grade student should be able to teach 2nd grader. After all, they have learned everything and should be able to share that knowledge with somebody else.
The conversation was actually a bit more serious than it sounds. The question was around how long you have to work at something to be considered an “expert”. There are a couple schools of thought. One is the 3rd grade teacher camp. Timothy Ferris approached this in his outstanding book, The 4-Hour Work Week. Part of his story involves ways to build expertise quickly. A soon as you have developed some skill level, use it. Using it will help you build more. Don’t wait until you are 65 and retiring to be considered an expert and reap the benefits by slowing down or traveling.
Others in the conversation were a bit more traditional. Expertise was gained by developing deep knowledge on a subject. You are an authority when other experts ask you for advice.
Like most issues, there was a middle ground. Michael Moore of Strategic Persuasion (www.Strategic-Persuasion.com) painted a picture using his words. “Who is the King of Rock?” he asked. Elvis of course. “Who is the Greatest of All Time?” was the next question. Ali, naturally. Then he closed the sale by asking us “Who said so?” We looked around at each other and realized that they said so themselves. And both of them could make a good argument based on their accomplishments.
Hidden in that conversation was a great lesson. You can gain the credibility to make a statement like that based on your capability. And you have to be pretty confident in yourself. But now, think about a boast that is not so far out. For example, we can help you regain two hours of family time every work day. Or how about a claim that your marketing gets a caffeine boost with the Coffee News. The claims are made because they can be substantiated.
So here is where the conversation ended. Expertise is gained over time, but you don’t have to wait until you know it all to use it. In fact, you should use the expertise you have to help your clients. And then continue to build your expertise and capability. When you are confident enough to claim your skill based on capability, you will have the credibility to be seen as an expert. And your customers will continue to look to you for help. Isn’t that what everyone, even 2nd graders, really want?
Tell me what you think at MartyVik@MyTurtlePond.com. Take Care.