Are You an Expert?

It was a blast to auctioneer with my pal April Brown at the ultra chic Women in Leadership's Gala evening a couple of weeks ago. We helped raise a lot of money that goes toward mentoring up-and-coming women leaders in Canada. The event was held at the posh Four Seasons Vancouver - what a treat!
I was asked by one of the many young women leaders there a couple questions about being comfortable calling yourself an expert. Below are her questions, and my answers:

Poster for the Gala Auction Event in Vancouver BC

At what point in your career did you say to yourself that you are an "expert" in your field? And how did you know it?

Great questions - I think what happened for me is that I eventually realized there are SO many areas that I am NOT an expert in, and a few key areas that I DO have lots of experience and expertise in - so I don't know it all - I do know specific areas of focus. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours in business-to-business selling, and in consulting with CEOs plus in working with non-profits to increase funds. I live it, and I breathe it. I'm comfortable getting a question thrown at me and finding an elegant solution. To me that is more interesting than being able to rattle off facts and figures. Actually HELPING companies and individuals with revenue issues is very rewarding.

I could say this happened in my forties - which it mostly did - however, there were things I knew for sure in my twenties. I was a teenaged mom at 18, so I knew a lot about leadership by the time I was 25 (I had to - had no choice if I wanted to raise a family well). I just don't think you need to be a certain age to feel comfortable in what you know "for sure".

Knowing you are an expert happens in different ways - for me, having others; including clients, prospective clients, friends and colleagues give me this feedback - which gave me confidence in my abilities and what I thought to be true. Getting outside input is really critical for a clear view of how well you convey what you know. Ultimately, I either solve people's sales issues or I don't. The more successful I am, the easier it is to say I know what I'm doing.

But I always remember a former manager I worked for who used to say, "X is an unknown number, and spert is what fluids do randomly out of a faucet - so don't ever consider yourself an expert!" - so I take it with a grain of salt.

How did you know when you became an expert?

Topics: Innovation & Inspiration

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