Friday, September 28, 2012

I'm no expert by any means, or am I?

I'm no expert by any means, or am I?

I remember taking classes or going to seminars and thinking, "I can't imagine I'll ever know enough about anything to be an expert." I mean how do people take something, that sometimes is so basic, and make it so that the world wants to know all about it? It was a fascinating thought really.

I think back to some of my first jobs. I grew up in an industrial food warehouse and one of my first jobs was to fold boxes. Tedious job, really. Lots of cardboard cuts. But after years of doing this, my sister and I could knock out hundreds of boxes in an hours time with great efficiency   Every once in awhile you'd get another employee who walked by and they'd challenge you. "Oh, I can do that faster than you." Once they got their arms tangled up in a knot, they backed down. Now I wasn't near as fast as my sister, she had much better skill than I did, but I realized then... I was an expert at folding boxes. And wouldn't you know it, in time I had to share that knowledge and teach someone else.

A few years later I was in the beauty industry. I started as a nail care professional and later went back to school to complete my cosmetology license.  I was nineteen when I got my first license.  I was twenty when I opened my first salon, did I know anything...not one thing! But I had a drive. I competed and I took classes. I made allies with others in the profession and we fed off of each other. In time I was winning those contests, I was attending seminars and thinking, "I know all of this."  Soon people were asking me how to do certain techniques, and I had clients quitting their jobs to go to school so they could come to work for me. What was going on? Oh! I'm an expert in my field and people are inspired by what I know.

Well would you look at that, I was an expert.

I'm the kind of person who picks up careers. I'm fascinated by so many things that I learn all that I can. And, I'm a chronic entrepreneur  so if the skill I have learned can be made into some kind of business, then by golly I'm going to take it to the extreme   Once again, I'm just a tiny fish in a huge ocean. I'm no expert by any means, and I'm faking it to make it. Questions are asked, and I'll find the answer. I'm the one with the knowledge. That learning experience is a scary place to be, but soon it pays off.

Now I am an author and a publisher. I can tell you I am seriously no expert in this field. So I went to conferences. I sat in awe of the authors and agents who would put together a panel and tell you what you should do. These people were amazing, and do you know if I listened, sometimes their advice worked.

Soon I was a writing fool.  Books were being written by the dozen. "How do you do that? How can you write like that?" Oh it's simple.  Just puke it out.  Get it on the paper and then go back when you're done and make it shine. It made sense to people. They began to write!

I got a contract (because I'd listened to the experts and those who criticized my work "constructively").  Soon I was learning what these contract clauses meant and how the process worked.  Who knew I'd become an expert on knowing when you'd made a superior mistake!  But now I was an expert on that too.  Many people have asked me my opinion on that, because they knew I could help steer them in the right direction. Hmmm.  So I went out on my own. My editor coddled me and helped me along, until one day she said, "You really don't need me anymore." OMG what am I going to do now? With some thought I took her advice, and I became my own writing content expert.  Four of the books we'd worked on together (8 of them to be exactly) had gone bestseller.  Could I uphold my reputation and create another one without her? I could if I took it upon myself to be an expert at my own voice.

What do you know.  I knew what I was doing! I wrote a book that met the needs of those who read me.  Many reviews quoted it as being the best of the series and it went bestseller on a pre-sale. Could I have seriously become an author with an expertise? Well, I must have. I have authors by the dozens email me daily asking for advice.  I have more coffees and dinners purchased on my behalf because people need me.  I'm an expert they can turn to.  I know how to start and finish a book. I know what it should sound like, how to finish the formatting, and even how to get it published.

Once at a seminar to sell kitchen wares the person teaching the session said, "If you don't know what you're doing act like you do.  If you want to be a sales director, tell them you're a sales director.  You can't be what you don't think you are."  Well now wasn't that the best advice ever?

The day I called myself an author, then I took seriously enough the job.  When I had my first white belt tied around my waist as a martial artist I was introduced to the class as the next black belt of the school... In 3 weeks I'll receive my 2nd degree.  Who would have thought.  I think I'm an ideal parent (with 5 growing boys) and others must think I do a good job as they ask for my advice often. The other day I colored a clients hair blue on accident.  I am now an expert on how to fix that.

There is the old saying, "you are what you eat," well how about "you are what you think." If you're too afraid to stand up and show the world what you know, and not gracious enough to learn what it has to show you, well then you'll always be average. But if you think you have something to share with the world, and there is someone willing to listen, then you are an expert in something, no matter how simple the topic.

1 comment:

  1. Very inspirational! I swear my husband and I were having this very conversation last week! It is a great feeling isn't it, to realize that you are so good at doing something, people come to ask questions...even though you don't feel like you have the answers...