Do you know The Experts?

June 9, 2008 by Jared Goralnick

experts_signs Whether it’s building a business relationship, following their advice, or seeking inspiration, it helps to know who’s “made it” in your field.

In asking around amongst friends, it seems they don’t know The Experts, or consider them well out of reach…not realizing that these people serve as both role models and character foils to the careers they’re building.

So here are some ideas around finding and, perhaps, getting to know The Experts.

One of my highlights last week was when a colleague introduced me to Donna Payne, who I’ve long looked up to as the leader in the legal application of Microsoft Office technology (a niche my business has always worked within). I look forward to getting together with her.

This week I’m excited to be attending Graphing Social Patterns East; one of the reasons is that I’ve always regarded the organization hosting it as the gold standard in technical publishing and one of the leaders in technology events. I’m really glad to be getting involved with this event and the organization.

These things may not mean or sound much to you, but finding ways to involve The Experts and learning more about them has helped me both to explore and to further where I’m heading.

Who Are The Experts? How Do I Find Them?

I’m referring to the role models, thought leaders, and innovators (people or businesses) that matter to you as “The Experts.” You’ve come across them many times and been inspired by different sides of them. It’s not everyone who’s spoken on an inspiring topic or written a good story, it’s the ones who are doing something that you can (or would like to) see yourself doing. For instance, I may be inspired by many of the authors I’ve read, but I’d regard Timothy Ferriss and Marc Orchant as The Experts (for me) because their interests and paths were ones that I respected and saw for myself.

Finding The Experts is a matter of curiosity and remembering. When you come across those who’ve done “amazing things” that you aspire to, explore what you can of them online and see if they really are people (or businesses) whose path you really align with. Then make a mental note of them.

Now That I Know The Experts, What’s Next?

When I was 14 I had a conversation with Adam Duritz, the lead singer of my then favorite band, Counting Crows. I had waited for him after a concert with a few questions ready. He answered those questions and that conversation hasn’t left me since.

Duritz is not really playing that role in my life now, but I’ve gotten to know a lot of the people who I look up to in my field. I just look for opportunities when they’ll be in town and am patient and available for when they have time. If you can, send them an email a couple weeks in advance and they may be more open-minded to getting together than you think.

But meeting The Experts isn’t the only option. And a brief friendship isn’t really going to change you into the person you’d like to be.

Instead, learn what path these folks took. There will be things completely unrelated to your interests and great ideas you never thought of. There’ll also be mistakes of theirs that you can avoid.

Bring The Experts Down To Earth

In the process of getting to know people virtually or in person, you start to build a more nuanced view. You’ll quickly learn that they’re pretty darn human…and that just maybe you could follow (or leapfrog) their steps. Until you bring them down to earth, it’s really hard to see yourself in their shoes.

The Point Of All This

The important bit is that you’re aware of and curious about a few people (or businesses) because opportunities have a way of presenting themselves when you’re ready for them. The Experts offer a framework for the options available to you, and you may be lucky enough to get to know them (and they may even help you).

Both in terms of the relationships I’ve built and the path I’ve taken, I know a lot of that comes from the role models in my field (and many other people). I hope looking out for The Experts can have similar benefits for you.

If you liked this article, I hope you’ll consider subscribing via RSS or email. I try to keep things relevant and helpful. Also, you might like some more posts that relate to 4-Hour Workweek topics (yeah, this came up in the book!)

You should really subscribe to Technotheory via Subcribe via email email or rss.

4 Responses to “Do you know The Experts?”

1 Trackbacks

  1. – “The company you keep” part 2: forcing success upon yourself


  1. Charlie Gilkey | Productive Flourishing

    I’ve found that the experts are pretty easy to get to know. After all, once they become experts, real people get scared to talk to them and all they get are people trying to ride coattails. They rarely get actual human conversations.

    I’ve learned that, when you deal with experts, be prepared to write a lot of stuff down afterwards. They tend to generate a lot of really good ideas without realizing it – it’s best to keep an open mind and listen.

  2. Jared Goralnick

    Well I guess when we get together someday Charlie that I’d better have a recorder and a sheet of paper!

  3. Charlie Gilkey | Productive Flourishing

    I was thinking it’d be me with the notebook and paper – but I do look forward to it. We’ll meet one day. Great new design!

Impart Your Theoretically Interesting Wisdom

Your Comments