Specialist, Expert or Master – Which one are You? (part 2)

Today is part two regarding a topic that we started out yesterday about a Facebook post that I made at http://www.facebook.com/professionalspeaking. It was quoting a speaker by the name of Daniel Wagner who said that if you want to be an expert, just say you’re an expert because it’s not something which is awarded to you, it’s something that you must claim. And my point of contention is that there’s three levels. There is a specialist, there’s an expert, and there’s a master. Yesterday I spoke about what it means to be a specialist. Today I want to talk about what it means to be an expert.

You know what, first off, this is just my opinion. It’s not necessarily the right one, it’s just what works for me and I want to share it with you in hopes that if it works for you and gives you a guideline to go by. For me, I don’t think you should ever call yourself an expert unless you can back it up and if you’re just in the business, brand-new like the reference I made from yesterday’s story, I don’t think you can back it up if you’ve been in this business for, I don’t know, a minimum of ten years. I think more. You know what, I got a little bit of heat on the comments where people were saying that I actually call myself an expert. My slogan is “the experts in professional-“ sorry, “the profession’s leading experts.” And you know what, I’ve been in this business for twenty-four years, I think I can claim that. I have no problem with people saying they’re an expert as long as they can back it up. There’s virtually nothing that you could present to me with regard to professional speaking in terms of the situation that I wouldn’t know how to handle. I’ve been doing it for a very very long time and I think I’ve earned the right to do that.

I don’t think the title “expert” is something that you claim. I agree with Daniel, it’s not something that is awarded, but I do think it’s something that is earned and you don’t earn it just by putting in on a letterhead in your slogan. I think you actually have to put in your due diligence and time. How much time is that? I don’t know. I’d say twenty years or more, personally. You know, if you read Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Outliers” he says it takes about ten thousand hours to master anything. That’s the third title, which is master. I would say that ten thousand hours of doing something you would become an expert in. How long is that? Well, if you work forty hours a week for five years, that be right around five thousand or ten thousand hours, but I don’t think people speak professional for forty hours a week. You know, at best you’re going to be doing it maybe five to ten, so I don’t think it’s going to take you five years, it’s going to be closer to twenty. Even then, just make sure that you can back it up.

Now, the next one is called a master, and I think a lot of people confuse expert for master as well. We had some people leaving comments saying that you should never call yourself an expert because it’s arrogant. Well, I disagree with that. I think as long as I said like you can back it up it up, it’s not a problem. But I do think to call yourself a master would probably be a place of arrogance and we’ll talk about that tomorrow on tomorrow’s video blog. So, hope that little bit of feedback for you regarding what an expert really should be or how long it takes to get one will help you. If you haven’t hit that mile marker and you don’t think that you can answer any possible question, call yourself a specialist, not an expert. You’re just going to get busted later, alright?

Alright, hope you enjoyed that. Listen, if you want to get some more tips, check out http://www.facebook.com/professionalspeaking. You can also check out additional online speaker training at http://www.bulletproofspeaking.com. It’s a great program filled with lots of great information with regard to what it takes to become a professional speaker.

Thoughts? Comments? Complaints? I welcome them all. Let me know if you think I am correct; all I ask is that you also state how many years you’ve been in the business before you make a claim about what it takes to be an expert. 🙂

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