An Employee Workshop for Aspiring Experts


Culture of Experts concept


Some people are experts and they don’t even know it.

An important concept behind a Culture of Experts is the separation of career positions into four groups. These four groups are shown in the yellow box below. The most important dichotomy resides between group #2 and group #4; Traditional Establishment Experts and Unconventional Experts. They are both experts, but they follow a much different path.

The challenge for companies is to understand, recognize, find and develop Unconventional Experts who may reside in group #1, and advance them to a position that fits into group #4. In doing so, they might advance someone’s career into a new position, or they might expand a position, so that it coincides with an individual’s growth. Culture of Experts is an entire program based around these efforts.

The challenge for workers is to fully uncover their own capabilities and either advance to a position that is above their current position, or expand their current position, so that it coincides with their individual growth. If a worker is a non-experts in position #1 and they are capable of advancing into one of the other three expert-level positions, they need to start developing their inner-expert. This workshop attempts to forward these efforts.

Defining oneself:
In life, we all have to define ourselves. It is one of the greatest challenges of being human, although, most of us do it passively. If we’re going to define ourselves, why not define ourselves as experts. We cannot be experts at everything, but why not be experts at things that are the most important to us.

Within careers, some are paid to be experts and some are paid to do repetitive work. When the repetitive work is finished, is there room for more creative work? Is there something else that needs to be done? Is there something else that can be done?

Traditional Establishment Experts have a major advantages and disadvantages, but within their path. In college, the established degree dictates the fields of study. The organizations who require these careers use the educational establishment as a starting point for career development. Over time, organizations that support established careers provide feedback to colleges, universities and trade schools, updating them with training needs, to make sure grads are well prepared. Sometimes, establishments overlap education with careers, using internships and residents.

Advantages of pursuing a Traditional Establishment Expert career are great. Within a formal education, there is a lot of work involved, but the work is predetermined and the potential for success is proven. Moving into a career is usually a relatively smooth transition, with educational accomplishments following the job requirements. Once in a career, there are also advantages. Traditional Establishment Experts 

Define your free time with expertise.

Define yourself with your individual work-process.

Be a connoisseur of expert, view expertise with appreciation for the expert that creates it.

Define your expert self

It is important to understand, the goal of a Culture of Experts is not to define, but to recognize a type of talent that typically goes unnoticed, underdeveloped or completely undeveloped. Certainly, there are creative liberties within the definition of what constitutes an Unconventional Expert. In reality, it is up to each Unconventional Expert to define themselves. It will not be a definition committed to writing, but shown within a journey, and accomplishments that follow. The individual work-process itself cannot be defined granularly, in tangible terms, as it is an instinct that happens automatically.

As a generalization, we’ve established the Unconventional Expert individual work-process as follows:

1) Intellectual curiosity
2) Initiate activity
3) Gain relevant information
4) Strategize
5) Commit to a project
6) Create ideas
7) Test ideas
8) Fail
9) Use failure as a platform for new and better ideas
10) Repeat (eventually … find mastery)

Like eating, the Unconventional Expert individual work-process does not need to be defined. It is a natural event that happens without thinking about it. Over-thinking eating; when to chew, how to chew, what fork full of food to take next, may cause one to choke. In this spirit, the Unconventional Expert should let the start-to-finish individual work-process happen naturally; improvised with full confidence that it will take shape.

Subject matter specifics
One important thing to define is the subject matter, which includes the specifics within the subject matter. This is the specific area for which the Unconventional Expert seeks expertise. It sounds like a simple concept, but the subject matter will be very specific and it will evolve or move as the Unconventional Expert moves deeper into expertise. Automobiles provide good examples, because some will repair them as a career within a skilled trade and others will work on them as a free-time activity, to repair them or to modify them as a hobby. The subject matter for expertise is never simply an automobile. It will focus on specific parts of auto repair or modification. For the extreme hobbyist, they may spend weeks learning how to modify or upgrade a very specific engine part, in an effort to increase performance.


Before the internet, groups of extreme hobbyists were closely nit, as resources were usually limited to the local community. Various hobbies trended, almost like fashion, with waves of hobbyists buying in. Subject matter could be addressed nationally, through magazines, and local communities could support hobbies within formal groups and informal neighborhood chatter. In the age of the internet, hobbyists have information, quickly at their fingertips. Hobbyists can forge their own path, without the inspiration that was sparked by the person who lives down the street. With the internet, hobbyists can communicate within topics that are granular, finding fellow enthusiasts and specific information, all around the globe.

What is the subject matter? It can be anything:

A specific methodology, which pertains to
A specific part
Of a specific model
For a specific product
Built in a specific year

That performs a subject matter specific function, which can be changed using the above methodology

A specific methodology, which pertains to
A specific style
Of a specific art
For a specific medium
Established in a specific era

That performs a subject matter specific result, which can be changed using the above methodology

Although, an Unconventional Expert should not over-think their individual work-process as a whole, there are advantages to focusing on the parts of the process, to seek improvements.

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Mike Tyson

5) Commit to a project

Whether within a career project or a personal project, Unconventional Experts are rarely consciously plan their projects and make a logical decision. Their extreme focus gets them in puzzle-solving mode and the project slowly takes shape. This is why Unconventional Experts often bite off more than they can chew. This is not a terrible thing, as interesting results can result, however, consciously planning a project can allow time for focus on projects that might have better long-term benefits.

6) Create ideas
7) Test ideas
8) Fail
9) Use failure as a platform for new and better ideas

Creating ideas, testing ideas, failing and using failure as a platform for new and better ideas. A simple and obvious concept, however, most people do not live their lives as inventors, they want to live their lives as consumers. As a consumer, you get to be the audience. There is no risk or responsibility, as the risk and responsibility belongs to someone else, pending your approval.

In our free-time, we can do whatever we want. In our careers, we must be contributors. We are the ones making the good or service, for others to consume. Certainly, it is possible to function within an occupation where there is structured, repetitive, task-oriented, company-process-driven work, but we need to prepare for the future, where artificial intelligence will replace the positions that don’t have a complex individual work-process.

10) Repeat (eventually … find mastery)

The most important part of being an expert on expert is knowing what constitutes expert. One can only push their limits when they know how far others have pushed their limits. This will be covered in creed #5, Expert Knows Mastery.
Building off of success

Sometimes, a large project ends in an undeniable accomplishment. It is completely finished and the outcome is positive. For this, there is a time to relish in success. Even backing away from it for a while and reproaching it as a spectator, to witness the grandeur differently than the feat.

Over time, the perspective of an accomplishment should change. As we progress, our accomplishment are to be left behind, only as a building block to greater things. Not to label as a failure, as there was success in its time. Over time, however, the past building blocks must be used, to build something bigger.

An excersize in specialization:

1) Look at your company’s general industry specialization, as well as the specific specialization. Can you make a statement of specifics? For example, a high-end hotel located near a tourist destination might state, we’re not in the “overnight-stay” business, we’re in the “luxury vacation” business.

We’re not in the business, we’re in the business.

2) As an employee, one can do the same exorcize, as it pertains to the line of work. For example, the customer service person who works at a high-end hotel located near a tourist destination might state, I’m not in the “information exchange” line of work, I’m in the “customer happiness” line of work.

I’m not in the line of work, I’m in the line of work.

After further defining your specialization, name some tasks that you can do above and beyond your general tasks, that would help you perform the specific specialization of your line of work.

What is expert?

Expert is much more than a proclamation of excellence. Expert is an individual work-process that is triggered by intellectual curiosity. Expert thrives in environments that are unstructured, complex, creativity-driven and strategy-dependent. Expert is natural, happening within free-time activities, such as hobbies, arts, crafts, DIY home improvements, connoisseurship, inventions and disciplines. Expert is not afraid of failure, but champions failure as part of the process; eventually leading to achievement. Expert respects mastery, and with it, a thorough understanding of what it takes to be a Master. Expert is cooperation, with the ability to learn from others that know more and teach others that know less. Expert is creativity, creating ideas that can be as big an an invention or as small as an adjustment to an individual work-process. Expert is complexity, but with an approach that has a familiar nature.

Culture of Experts is a free talent program by Human Castle Executive Search. For expert recruitment visit us at www.humancastle.com or call (716)222-3535.

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