(My column as it appeared in Upmarket Magazine week of March 4th)
In the movie The King’s Speech,the dynamics between the main characters (the King and his speech therapist) reflect an underlying state of contention in the real world that one side (because of title) is an embodiment of superiority while the other, who has demonstrated talents, is regarded as inferior because they lack some moniker of worthless alphabet soup following their name.
Let me be clear before some of you with degrees starting yelling at your screens. There are times when actual legal attributes are necessary. You can’t (nor is it legal) use the title of Dr. preceding your name unless you have the requisite degrees, and licenses. That also goes for a lawyer, or architect just to name a few. However most get caught up in “looking like” they are something they’re not rather than demonstrating what they are or what they can do to solve a client’s problem. Joining some organization (or paying for most) for the sole intention of adding letters to your title so you may appear smart is just plain dumb in my book. This is nothing more than trying to cover some inferiority complex.
In the movie there is a dramatic scene where there is a confrontation between the King, his therapist, and the Bishop who is questioning the competence of the therapist for lacking credentials he deems as important. This analogous scene plays out in more boardrooms than one can count. It’s also where most who have been in the position of the therapist fold like a cheap suit. Why? Because they invest more time in how their business card appears, or how important their title sounds rather than demonstrating what they can actually do to help a client. In this scene anyone who truly wants to make a living by achieving results that improve the client’s position must take note that the therapist never wavers in expressing what he can do, and what he has done. As far as the so-called monikers, they are useless, and he is unwavering in his argument on why he can help and not how he has a title that makes him sound like he can. In the real world today, yesterday, and tomorrow only one thing has merit, Results!
You must be ready to argue your value proposition to the client and that proposition must be something that is deliverable, or transferable. Not some pie in the sky no matter what happens you can spin as a job well done and collect a check. You should be ready to defend your dignity, reputation, and repute to any mudslinging or self-anointed elite no matter where you are, and more importantly no matter whom they are.
It is irrelevant that someone holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics while you might have never graduated high school. If the subject is about selling and you’re a skilled and competent salesperson with a track record then the smartest person in that room will be You! And you had better get rid of the inferiority complex that allows you to be intimidated if the Ph.D. crowd at some board meeting starts demeaning your lack of schooling. You need to argue your value and demonstrate your skills or decide that you’re wasting your breath and politely end the meeting and leave. If you don’t see yourself as a peer and an expert in your own field who is capable and competent to argue the good, the bad, and the ugly in your chosen vocation, then no amount of letters after your name will make a damn bit of difference.
© 2012 Mark St.Cyr