Now that spring has finally sprung, it’s great weather in Southern California, and Spring Break is either going on or will soon be going on, here I am in a darkened office, looking at issues that young people might need to be made aware of.

First, let’s talk about spring. If ever you’ve watched Bambi, there was the scene, when spring had finally sprung that Owl commented that the young characters were “twitterpated”.  This condition occurs when young critters fall in love and their hormones go wild.  This is not a love advice blog, so I decided to stay away from this meaning.twitterpated

I also thought of the service TWITTER which as most of you know, is a service that allows people to microblog their daily lives for anybody who wants to know.  I never understood the concept because I highly doubted people wanted to know every time I scratched my butt!  But last week, I jumped on board, and found that Twitter can also be a useful tool to expand my message.  In fact, if you are on Twitter, and want to follow me, THIS is my profile.  I have a few followers, and I follow them and a few others that interest me.

One thing that struck me about many of the people on Twitter, is that they seem to all be experts (or so they claim).  Many say they are image experts or blogging experts or some sort of expert.  I’m not doubting them.  I’ve chosen to take them at their word.  After all, there has to be some experts somewhere.  But I thought of many of my students, and many of the young people I know.  They hear the word expert, and they believe what they are told.    This can be very dangerous.

Experts are rare.

First, I’ve known many people who have done something for a short time who believe they understand all there is to it.  When I was in banking, I heard many tellers say they were experts because they had been a teller for a matter of months.  They weren’t.

Second, I’ve known people who know more about a subject than their peers, and they believe this makes them experts as well.  While subjective to their peers, this may be true, my wife took German in High School and College.  Few people do this.  She can’t speak German, but she does know a few words.  Does this make her an expert when the group is her, me, and a few of our friends who also didn’t take German?

Third, there are people who genuinely are experts in a specific area who believe that this expertise translates into a larger area.  For example, I am certainly an expert at personal finance and branch operations related to retail banking.  Does this make me an expert in finance?  In banking systems?  Allow me to answer that for you.  No it doesn’t.  I’ve taken some steps to become more educated in these issues, but I’ve never pretended to be more than a guy who knows about personal finance and how to run a successful branch.  Could my expertise and experience lead to becoming an expert in these areas?  Sure, if I were to dedicate my time and efforts to it.

What makes an expert?

So what makes an expert?  Time helps.  Dedication and education help.  Recognition helps.  There are many experts and geniuses out there that people simply don’t recognize because their ideas are so complex that most of us can’t even wrap our heads around them.  So what doesn’t make an expert?  Well, calling yourself an expert doesn’t help.  Neither do other terms like, guru, consultant, or yogi.  Being on TV doesn’t help, although many experts will go on TV.  They were experts before TV.  Even though I’m writing a book, writing a book won’t make you an expert, especially if the premise is a lie or inaccurate.  Some of these experts are experts at marketing a book deal or a TV spot, but don’t have a message.  Some of these experts have humiliated themselves in the public arena repeatedly, yet they still call themselves experts.

The Bottom Line:

The bottom line is that you have to be skeptical of anybody who is claiming to be an expert.  Some of them might be, and they will be able to prove themselves accordingly.  Others won’t be able to prove themselves at all.  I’ve always advocated questioning.  Question me, question your teachers, question authority.  That’s the fun part of being young.  Sometimes you get to piss people off by asking questions they don’t want asked.  Sometimes there is a price to be paid for this questioning, but sometimes the rewards are more than the potential costs.  Only you can make that decision for yourself.  But if you choose to never question others, don’t question later why you aren’t where you wanted to be in life.

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