Someone asked me the other day after reading my bio what I actually meant by the term “recognized expert.” Was it fluff? Or, was there a real meaning behind the use of the term. It’s a fair question.
She asked because she sees the term “expert” used everywhere. (emphasizing the term everywhere) So what was the meaning behind recognized? Was it because I’m a public figure, writer, speaker? Or, was it just something for embellishment purposes? Should she add it to her bio? Again, all fair questions so here’s how I explained it.
The term “expert” at one time had more weight behind it than it does today. Now everyone who has an idea or opinion on any subject believes they can call themselves an “expert.” (and too many do just that in my opinion)
Yet, if you truly know a subject and can demonstrate proven results regardless of the topic, the term “expert” just might fit the bill. You don’t need some form of certification in most cases. (although many will pay some place to say they are) Rather you need to know the subject matter your working with through in, and through out. Along with being able to demonstrate that knowledge. Not just “say” you can.
A person that works on lawnmowers might not be an “expert” on engines. However, they just might be an expert on engines that power lawnmowers.
I believe you can see my point here.
It’s a subtle difference in the way it’s presented. Yet, the meaning or implications are miles apart. Especially if you’re the one whom just hired this person as an “expert” to speak on engines – to the 500 attendees at a conference that’s featuring new engines to power this years super cars. See the ramifications there?
Ever wondered when you’ve just experienced one of the most dreadful talks given from a stage just who gave this person the title “America’s Top (fill in the blank)?” Easy – they themselves did. Nuance in phrasing does not mean knowledge or expertise. However, far too many try just that – and fail miserably.
Recognized should mean what it implies: Others – whether in your field or not have either cited your opinions or work. Or, have invited you to participate as a panel member (or something similar) where members or attendees (usually experts in their own right) can openly ask you as to give insights or answers to questions they may have relating to the subject at hand or others.
In other words: You, are recognized as a person capable of delivering thoughts or ideas worthy of listening to – or for contemplation by others that add meaning or insights to the discussion. Regardless if anyone agrees with you. Which at times is another reason why you might have been asked. (but that’s another subject for another column)
Here’s an example using myself for context:
In 2005 I was asked to both speak and participate as a panel member at a major conference where the marketing strategy was rolling out for that year. The campaign was also to be coordinated throughout the entire industry. The attendees were by invitation only. Some were noted Fortune 500 while others represented the largest players in their respected markets. (who is irrelevant for this discussion)
This wasn’t an event some speaker’s bureau booked me into. (although this is where far too many will now assign the term “expert” to their bio) At the time I was in the middle of a turn around operation in Boston. The company itself was the #2 market leader, and the turmoil surrounding why this company was in trouble was the gossip du jour throughout the industry. (one of the principles left and walked out in a bitter conflict)
I gained the attention of the industry when not only did we turn it from near death. We began taking market share away from our rivals that were telling everyone we were D.O.A. The call came to me from the industries council president in Washington, DC. (I actually confused him at first with not jumping at the chance. Refusing twice before finally accepting because as I told him “Although I’m honored, I’m far too busy” – and meant it because – I was!)
They wanted me to speak and participate as a panel member at their conference to discuss challenges on marketing and more facing the industry as a whole. This industry by way of size and influence makes Wal-Mart® seem small. On a side note. To my knowledge this industry remains the only industry where Wal-Mart tried to force its will on pricing and was sent packing hat in hand. I’m not using hyperbole.
So without going on further I believe you can see the point I’m trying to make in demonstrating the difference with one stating they are “recognized,” as to using the term (along with far too many others to list) in a frivolous manner as to sound like some “expert” personified.
I’d like to share another example I learned years back from a friend and colleague. For context years ago when I was younger I bar-tendered in real hard-core biker bars. This is where the term 1%’er means something totally different from what the term means in the headlines of today’s media. So let’s just say I have some insightful or knowledgeable first hand experience in issues others in my position might not.
We were having coffee one morning and discussing a topic that involved a headline making incident involving an outlaw motorcycle feud that was taking place in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. A question then arose (from another not us) about what one would do in the given situation we were discussing. Then this person stated: “Well, I would just say I know someone.” (meaning if they said they “knew” someone connected that would be enough to quell the matter at the time)
My colleague looked and said:
“That’s fine, but you’re going to be asked – Who?
Because, ‘Who’ is going to be asked if they know (or recognize) you.
And if they don’t – you’re going to have even bigger problems.”
I never forgot it.
He could make that statement as an expert because he still intimately knew a number of well-known “Who’s.” (I think you catch my drift) In other words, if you say you’re recognized by someone, you had better be. Or you’re going to have issues.
So, when someone asks – or you want to know if the person actually is an expert in any given field or subject just remember:
Anyone can call themselves an “expert.” But can they answer the question of – By who?
This is where most prove they’ve overstepped and could be in over their head.
© 2013 Mark St.Cyr