Steve Jobs and The start of Apple

Position Yourself as an Industry Expert

Experts? Over time, their voices become familiar. You come to like them, listen to and believe them. They may even slip beneath your skin and become your friends. The point is that you trust them, look to them, believe them, and on the strength of that, they ascend into the lofty realm of ‘experts.’

These are the gurus, the thought-leaders, the technical wizards. When the big names are in need of guidance; when the media need insights; when the leaders need a way forward, they are the go-to people.

But experts are never experts by accident. They are the men and women who understand how to manage perceptions within their industry. And while it is true that they often possess a great many of the answers, and have built up a huge body of knowledge, there is also a significant Public Relations element to their perceived stature. They are what they are because they have built up that reputation, and they have done so on purpose.

The good news is that their techniques are specific and can be emulated. If you care deeply enough to try, and to sustain your effort over time.

I have identified 50 ways in which you can position yourself as an industry expert. Here’s the first one:

Don’t decide to be an Expert. Make the decision to be the Very Best:

Performance experts; from the sports to the business arena; will tell you that deciding to be ‘good’ does not pack the same psychological clout as deciding to be ‘the very best.’ If you plan to take your career seriously, and truly be recognised as the guru in your particular game, you would do well to make this decision early on. Deciding to be ‘good’ allows you a great deal of leeway, but deciding to the very best inspires more obsessive behaviour, and that’s a recipe for much higher level thinking and much more intense levels of research, practice and performance.

Let the feel-good speakers tell you about ‘all things in moderation,’ but the reality is that if you want to be an expert, you actually do need to obsess about what you do. You do need to demand perfection of yourself, and you need to care deeply about your performance.

Obsession is a powerful thing.

If you would like to see what this sort of obsession looks like in practice, and what it can achieve, take a look at a man who was arguably the greatest performer of the last century: Michael Jackson. It’s no coincidence that people still use terms like ‘legendary,’ ‘greatest,’ ‘king of…’ and ‘one of a kind’ when talking about him.

In the video ‘This is It!’, which features footage from the rehearsals prior to what would have been Jackson’s final tour, we get to see the incredible level of demand that he placed upon himself, and the kind of exacting standards he expected from his co-performers. There is absolutely no sense of ‘It’ll do,’ in his approach. Not even in the small details. Michael Jackson wanted absolutely everything to be done to the highest levels attainable without compromise.

He had no intention of being ‘reasonably good.’ In everything he did, it was clear that his own expectations of himself were ‘the very best or nothing at all.’

Obsession. There are few things more powerful. Expert positioning always begins with caring deeply about what you do. Amass the knowledge without the care, and you might become a specialist. But care passionately, and combine it with the knowledge, and you will be an expert.