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Home > Audio, Podcast > It’s not obvious to them

It’s not obvious to them

August 16th, 2008

Career Opportunities podcast logoIt’s not obvious to them
By Douglas E. Welch

Listen: It’s not obvious to them


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While we all might like to be the smartest person in the room (and in some cases, we are) our knowledge can sometimes get in the way of our career. I know it can sound counter-intuitive, but there are times when our knowledge causes us to dismiss our own talent and skills as obvious and unimportant. We see our skills as inconsequential when we assume what we know is so obvious, everyone else knows it, too.

I see this in operation in my own life in a number of ways. I am often surprised when clients ask me to explain or demonstrate something that I thought everyone had learned. I can offer up a very basic tip, just to remind the client that it exists and then spend 30 minutes explaining it. Even worse, I don’t teach some concepts and resist making training products because I think the concepts are simply too basic to be worth anything to anyone. I deny the usefulness of my own knowledge and end up limiting both myself and my clients. What an odd situation, but also a very common one.

It is time for all of us to recognize the importance of even our most basic knowledge. For me, the best definition of an expert is someone who has one more piece of information or one more experience than someone else. This means that someone out there wants and, more importantly, needs that information. If this is true then you are an expert a thousand times over. You possess knowledge large and small that others need, even if they don’t yet know it themselves. It is your job to reach out to people and show them what they need.

So, how do you find out what knowledge you take for granted? Simple, turn to your friends or family and take note of the questions they are constantly asking you at gatherings. Sometimes answering repetitive questions can dull our sense of what is important. Like staring at the same color for a long time, we can get fatigued and stop noticing that nearly everyone around us has a similar question. Think about it. How many times have you answered questions about their television hookup, their email issues, their Internet connection? This will provide you some immediate examples where your knowledge is useful to others, even if you have come to ignore it. In my own world, I am constantly showing people how to manage their TV, cable box, VCR and DVD player and yet, I have never created a blog post or video about it. (Of course, in the writing of this column, I can guarantee you have I made notes to do just that and much more.)

Let’s extrapolate a little. If this knowledge is important to your immediate circle, this means it is important to the general public, too. Thinking about knowledge in this way can help to change the way you view your expertise and how you apply it. Like a “kick in the seat of the pants,” it can jumpstart your work and your career.

As an example, after nearly 5 years of podcasting, I am finding that people, both technology-savvy and not, really want information on new media and how it can help them in their work or business. They may have heard of YouTube or Facebook, but they have no idea what to with such services. Under the auspices of my new group, New Media Interchange, I am trying to “open the door” and bring them into the new media world. In order to do that, I have to remember what it was like when I was new to the podcasting world. What basic information is required to get started? What did I have to learn and how did I learn it? What was it like not to know something? If you can remember that time in your own life, you will be a great resource to your clients, coworkers and friends.

What specialized knowledge, no matter how basic, can you share? Everyone from a knife sharpener to a solar power expert has something to share that, in itself, might seem obvious, but isn’t to the world at large. Share this information with those around you. Start a group. Start a blog. Do whatever is necessary to take your message to the world.

(Need help starting a blog? Email me at and I’ll share my knowledge with you.)

Don’t fall victim to the trap of thinking that everyone knows what you know or you’ll risk becoming a victim of your own knowledge. Trust me, there are plenty of people out there who want and need, your expertise. To paraphrase the movie Field of Dreams, If you share it, they will come.

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