There’s something tempting about having your name on a cover and being designated as an “expert” in a field. But there are plenty self-published books out there that nobody reads. I mean, sure, there is the rare instance when I’m walking through the airport, bored, and see a cover that catches my attention, but let’s be serious, that lasts about 10 minutes max. (Am I the only one who reads a chapter and then puts it back on the shelf?) I’m not saying that all books are outdated, I’m just saying people don’t read them like they used to back before all the gizmos and gadgets. I admit it, I’m a child of the digital age, if it’s not in a video, an audiobook, or a 500 word blog post, I’m probably not going to read it unless it has been recommended by someone I know and trust. However, all this is still misleading as to the real core of “Why I’m not an Expert and I Haven’t Written and Book About it”. For that I have to tell you a little story.
I started my adult career as a jack of all trades in an IT/Software Development company. That experience was pretty uneventful in light of this story. The real eye opener for me was when I started working at a local bank as a Customer Service Representative making $13 per hour. That job was the most “professional” looking job I have ever had. It is also the lowest paying job of my adult career. I wore a suit, starched shirt, and tie to work every day. Heck, we spent a whole day of our orientation training talking about appropriate attire and appearance. At least I could pick the color of my tie.
One day as I was holding the door for a middle aged gentleman in a T-Shirt and jeans he looked at my attire and said angrily, “What is wrong with you? Don’t you know this is the 21st century? Who the **** still wears a suit and tie?”
At the moment I felt a little offended, like, how dare he criticize my attire? But then I began to think about it, “Who the **** DOES still wear a suit and tie?” I’m making the least money of my career and I’m wearing the most expensive outfit I’ve ever owned. Why does that make any sense? I get it, there is a psychological aspect of trusting people who look a certain way but let’s be honest, I wasn’t the “seasoned expert” I looked like. I felt pretentious and out of place and since that day I’ve always been a little more suspicious of anyone in a suit and tie.
During and following my career at the bank I began reading a lot of business books about success and even got involved in an MLM or two. I learned a lot from multi-level-marketing and business motivational writers. Primarily I learned that MLM’s weren’t for me and as a budding skeptic I began to realize that neither of these things were all they were hyped to be. I learned that MLM’s overall have a very low recruitment retention rate and are almost always exaggerated or falsely represented by at least some of the representatives. This was a big letdown when I compared that to the story I received from the guy who signed me up. I still like the guy. He’s the most positive guy I know. But recruiting people with the expectation of a high turnover rate wasn’t for me.
I had a mixed experience at the Bank. I moved around to a lot of different branches and had some great experiences and some bad ones. I can say with 100% assurance that appearance doesn’t make everyone a nice person or easy to work with.
After leaving the bank I worked in a few different sales roles. One of those was as an outside sales representative for the Home Depot. One of the prerequisites for that job was a two weeks sales process training in Atlanta Georgia. There I learned all the steps for approaching customers, handling objectives, asking for the sale, etc. A lot of the training was really helpful. When we got back from training though there was a guy on my team who was very persuasive, and boy would he get the sales agreements. However, in the home improvement industry there is a 3-day rescission period which he would use to get people to sign up. “If you decide you want to cancel, you have 3 days to do so.” A lot of his clients cancelled. I on the other hand took my time to explain and treated people the way I would want to be treated. My actual net sales exceeded his dramatically even though his gross sales were almost double mine.
For the past 5 years I’ve been focused exclusively on the web development industry.
There are a ton of companies out there promising to increase traffic to your website, boost your social media presence, and magically increase ROI.
In the beginning I signed up for a few of these courses to “learn”. What I learned is that it can be difficult to get them to stop the monthly subscription withdrawal from your bank account. And the content? I learned more from free YouTube videos and targeted Google searches. 90% of them were a waste of time and money. Why? Because when you get down to it there are no magic beans. When someone forces you to watch a 5-10 minute video presentation, and you can’t fast forward or reverse, when someone’s “squeeze” page looks like a used car salesman talks, with paragraphs and paragraphs of words, testimonials and endorsements, I immediately move on. Why? Because I don’t trust someone who has to work that hard to “sell me”. Another thing I can’t stand is when someone calls themselves a leading expert in their field…. Who are they to designate themselves? What does expert mean?
To me expert should say, I have achieved excellence in this field. I am the ultimate resource on this subject. In a world of technology where trends are constantly changing, how do you know the technique in which they attribute themselves with achieving excellence is still relevant?
Here’s the bottom line. I don’t wear suits anymore. Ever. I’m more of a ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of guy. When it comes to meetings and mixers I sometimes feel a little out of place, but the fact is, my work speaks for itself. I’m constantly learning and I think the most effective way to showcase my talent is by doing good work. Many people have told me they were a web, or social media expert only to show me statistics that were inflated by advertising and didn’t correlate to actual engagement. Or they’ve demonstrated that their design wasn’t intuitive for the end user, or that the important content wasn’t featured. There are a lot of people today who like to wow with big words and who talk a lot about doing things (You should see some of the proposals I’ve seen! They are a full on encyclopedia), but not that many who actually do things well.
Never stop learning, never stop innovating, constantly pursue excellence in your work, and you will never be irrelevant.
Never designate yourself as an expert. It doesn’t look good and it doesn’t really mean anything unless you are one.