Bentley College Marketing- Honors

This blog is for MK 402-H01 and the greater Bentley College population.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

How to be an Expert (i.e. Not Suck)

Kathy Sierra’s blog post “How to be an Expert” focuses on what separates experts from amateurs. She says, “The only thing standing between you-as-amateur and you-as-expert is dedication. All that talk about prodigies? We could all be prodigies (or nearly so) if we just put in the time and focused.” She talks about how people always relate masters of a particular skill to being naturally endowed with a predisposition toward it, but that this is not necessarily the truth. Kathy claims that concentration, desire, drive, and a willingness to improve are really the core values that one needs to excel. She extends this point when she says that the experts of fields do not practice more than others, they practice better than others. Kathy coins the phrase, “Most of us want to practice the things we're already good at, and avoid the things we suck at. We stay average or intermediate amateurs forever.” She says that many people do not want to “suck” but that many people get stuck at the satisfied amateur stage (whereby they know that they are not necessarily doing everything as efficiently or productively as they can but do not want to go through the hassle to change their practices). This is especially harmful because the closer one gets to being an “expert,” the more passion they develop about their work. Therefore, people that “suck” really don’t care at all about what they are doing, and they will not only bring themselves, but also the business down. This is related to marketing because firms that just rely on what they have done in the past and do not try to challenge themselves anymore will always stay low on the chain of powerful marketers. Therefore, companies should try to think outside their usual box and try things that they find difficult. This is a risky strategy because firms like to figure out what works for them and then just stay with it as long as the market will permit them to keep using it. However, according to Kathy Sierra, companies should keep pushing themselves to find a better way to do things.

This informed my idea of marketing because it put into clearly identifiable terms and graphics what really ends up harming firms. The mindset that settling at any point along the way will result in mediocrity (or as Kathy Sierra puts it “amateur status”) was something that had never crossed my mind. This is a really good idea to keep in your mind because a lot of people do think that natural skills and considerable amounts of practice are the vital components for success.

There are several critiques that can be made about this article. First of all, the graph is a little flawed. According to the graph, an expert will continue to reach to an infinite ability. Though this may be true on a large societal scale it is theoretically impossible on an individual basis (which is what this scale was designed to accommodate). Similarly, the “drop-out” will eventually reach a negative ability, which is indeed impossible. Also, the y-axis starts at “struggling, frustrating” and goes up to “expert, always in flow;” however, these are not opposites and the latter of the two makes little sense. Secondly, though inspirational this article tries to be so much to so many walks of industry that it is very broad and therefore, overly generalized.


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Thursday, March 09, 2006 9:57:00 PM  
Blogger John Cass said...

True grit and hard work makes you an expert. Something that everyone needs to be reminded of every now and then. Really like the chart!

I think blogs are great tools for pushing people along the process of becoming better experts.

Friday, March 10, 2006 9:25:00 AM  
Blogger Dave J. said...

Like John, I really liked the chart. Your critique sees the trees and not the forest, IMHO.

Kate, if I was Dr. Blogenstein, I'd ask what you think about Kathy's use of graphics to explain things. Has she found that the written blog is ineffective in communicating ideas? What can a marketer learn from CPU's methodology?

Saturday, March 11, 2006 10:45:00 PM  

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