Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What Makes Someone an Expert?

When you read advice from someone, or buy a product that they sell, what is the criteria that makes them worth listening to or spending money on?

I've read hundreds of articles, books and reports involved with personal finance, stock valuation, real estate valuation, and personal development. Yet, I still feel like the advice I can offer people isn't something I should charge them for. But, when will it be? What credentials would I need in order to be considered a "professional" who should be paid for their expertise?

Is it more about the marketing, how something is presented, rather than some innate value that they offer? If I wrote up a bio of myself that listed all the things I've done, would that validate my request for someone's money? Or is it all about how I sell it? If I come in confidently, like I know what I'm talking about, even in situations where I don't, does that make me worth taking your money just because you don't know enough to know better?

Or is it all about experience? If I come up to you and say that I've been learning about personal finance for 5 years, does that make me an expert? I feel like experience is all a crock, because I could read 1 article a month for 5 years and say the same thing as a person how reads 10 articles a day for 5 years and how would you really know the difference if all you go by is the duration?

I guess what it all comes down to is figuring out what I personally see as valuable credentials, obtaining them, and then changing my image of myself so that I do see myself as more of an expert. I guess it's also about taking action and doing something, because you become more of an expert by trying and failing than anything else.

I still feel like it's wrong to take someone's money unless you give them something of value enough to match what you charged. But I guess I just have a problem seeing the value I bring to other people.


Thomas said...

Well you tell a story that I find interesting and valuable because there are many elements I recognize from my own life. It's the struggle to find the "why" or find out where the hell it went. If you can find your own why, I would say that you're an expert.
Other people value other things you create, so I think it's all about finding a overlap of what you like to create and what people want.
I also find value in the comfort of knowing that I'm not alone in my struggle. It could even turn out to be fun to overcome this struggle if I had somewhere to share the experience. Then again, everybody writes about personal development and finding the why, but I read several blogs about personal development, because everyone is different.
When you have completed a new computer game I would say that you are an expert compared to a person, who's considering buying or not. How is an expert's opinion ever going to be anything else than subjective?

~christophany~ said...

I have an idea for how to figure this out. It's an experiment.

What I'm going to do is put together a website that has all my criteria, all the stuff I do job related and outside my job. And then I'm going to push it out there, market it and share it with other people.

Then I'll see what comes back. It's really just basic economics. I'm going to show the world what supply I have and see what demand comes back. Rather than picking a product out of the blue, I'm going to let the market decide what it wants and what quantity it wants it in. Then I'm going to work hard, do my best to fulfill the demand and see if it grows.

Rather than constantly trying to skate uphill, I think I'm just going to go with what comes naturally.