I have attended several conferences and seminars this year. Inevitably, at each conference someone asks “How do I establish myself as an expert? Naturally, there are other “experts” that are all too ready and willing to tell you how. It all begins with spewing knowledge wherever possible. Create a blog, write a book, get a podcast and get published. That is the American way to become an expert!
But does that really make anyone an expert? More importantly, does this make being an expert irrelevant? I ask this question because as I have listened to this discussion, the one thing I never hear as a way to become an expert is learning.
Everyone wants to sit next to the “Straight A” student and be in study groups with him or her. Other students seek them out because when they study, they comprehend and are able to show the teacher (expert that they know the information). Does any student ever clamor to teach the class?
It is assumed that the person that wants to be an expert is knowledgeable about whatever subject they are discussing. But if you are already knowledgeable, do you really need to establish yourself as an expert? Experts aren’t experts because they said they are. Experts are experts because others say they are.
The term expert (as most words in the English language) has become meaningless. Overused and overhyped to the point that saying you are an expert is as pointless as saying you read a book once. The new term being used to distinguish experts from the truly knowledgeable is influencer. But is that really a distinction?
I rarely hear (if ever) anyone asking to become the most knowledgeable person about a subject matter. How do I study more and learn? Who can I watch and follow to become better at my craft? How can I be the best at what I do, not just make people think I am? Aren’t those the things that that an expert should be asking?
In the never ending quest to be heard, the art of listening has been lost. Why isn’t anyone asking how can I become the most knowledgeable? Is it too much to ask that our experts actually know something? Not just know, but possess a true understanding?
The dictionary describes knowledge as meaning “well informed.” Confucius said “real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” Are we afraid of becoming knowledgeable because we will realize we know nothing at all? Do we resist being well informed because it ultimately means that it is impossible? (Please note my restraint from using Jon Snow as a reference).
Who can claim that they are the most knowledgeable or more informed about a subject? So we relegate this inference through words like experts and influencers. The truth is those words imply something that simply isn’t true. That is, the person who claims to be so, is so.
Thanks to LinkedIn’s Influencer status, many people are clamoring to be “the Influencer.” Is the Influencer the new Expert? Does being an influencer or expert mean that you actually know anything? As social media will have it, those things mean popularity. When you want to be seen as an expert, are you really saying that you want to be popular? Is popularity more important than knowledge? Are we confusing popularity with knowledge? I suppose one can argue that we as a society confuse opinions for facts. So why not confuse popularity for knowledge?
Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement strategy to build capacity.