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There’s No Substitute for Authentic Knowledge

Wanna grab a beer?

Here are the topics about which I could spout authentic knowledge for hours:

  1. The Edmonton Oilers
  2. Writing
  3. Cereal
  4. Coaching hockey

After that it gets a little muddy. If you asked me to talk about snowboarding, I could give you a general understanding of my knowledge, but I’m no expert.

There are certain topics in which I’m efficient, but only a select few in which I’m proficient. And I’m getting tired of people claiming to be experts in everything.

The Irreplaceable Value of Practical Experience

I’ve been conducting a lot of interviews lately with people intimately connected to their field of work. For example, I interviewed my cousin Corey about his nearly 25 years working in the oil and gas industry in Alberta and BC for an oil and gas blog. The conversation came straight from the heart. It was fluid and engaging. Corey knows his shit because he grew up with it.

I’m a believer in on-the-job experience. My cousin possesses it in droves, and it’s incredibly valuable for this particular blog’s audience.

When people try to claim expertise they don’t actually possess, that’s when we run into clutter, confusion and useless chaos.

Fake It Till You Make It

The other day I read a headline on twitter seeking a Ninja Ad Writer. I’m guessing a ‘ninja’ ad writer is someone who’s super-mega-awesome at writing ads. Right? Because ninjas are great at everything?

This is the same reason people over-use hashtags on Twitter, they’re trying to claim dominance over a medium they know nothing about. In fact, did you know that each hashtag you use detracts 13% of your message’s credibility?

You didn’t? Well, that’s because I made that up.

Sure, there are other ways to acquire subject matter expertise, like research, but there’s nothing like hearing the story straight from the horse’s mouth. Sorry, Corey, I know you’re not a horse.

The Truth About Subject Matter Expertise

My buddies at Paper Leaf Design Studio in Edmonton are hiring a new project manager, and right there in the job description it says “people skills first, knowledge second”.

Claiming to know everything is a dangerous crutch the workplace would do well to abandon forever.

People ask me how I can write about so many different things. The answer is easy – I ask people who know more about the topic than I do.

If you don’t know the answer to something or you’re not familiar with an element that’s crucial to your project, so what?

Someone has the answers, so find them and ask them.

photo credit: Londonian phone via photopin (license)

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  1. Pingback: How to Know You’ve Written Something Useful | Vancouver

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