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What Makes Someone An Expert

April 15, 2020

Why is anyone listening to Bill Gates’ opinion on the Coronavirus? What does a software guy know about vaccines and diseases?

My brother is an expert on social media. Not that he’s famous on social media. You’ve probably never heard of him. But, he’s an expert on using social media. It’s what he does for a living.

He provided me some free advice on becoming an online when I started writing down these scribbles seven years ago.

Presence and persistence

First show up. Then, do it over and over again. It’s been seven years and I’m not sure I would call myself an expert, but I’m still working on it.

My point is that my brother’s advice was valid. Experts become experts in our age of social media, by showing up and staying involved.

No one is an expert on COVID-19. Oh, there are experts on immunology, and diseases, and the social spread of viruses, but no one knows all about the novel coronavirus that is devastating the world right now. We’ll have experts soon enough. They are working on it.

Think about your office. You have processes and procedures. You have ways of doing things. Who knows the most about them?

In my office, we have a specific protocol for when something goes wrong, when we have an outage. There is an entire team devoted to handling these outage calls. We have a team of mission control analysts at each of our six locations. We have agents and supervisors. We have another team devoted to just running the outage itself.

All of these teams have to work together when we have an outage. They have to provide specific documentation at specific times to specific people.

The various teams work off of a playbook that outlines how the entire process is supposed to work. When in doubt they refer back to the expert on the process. The person how has through persistence and presence become the acknowledged expert.

That person is me.

It’s funny, I didn’t set out to become an expert. In fact, in the beginning, I simply made stuff up as I went along and then documented what worked and rejected what didn’t. And over the course of seven years, the process became second nature.

Eventually, it was decided that we should transition my responsibilities to an entire team. I then documented my process and spent three months training them.

Now, I only get informed of outages, I don’t have to actually manage or run them. I occasionally get asked by collegues to help them come up with their own outage processes for their clients.

Why would anyone listen to Rodney’s opinion about outage processes?

Do you know what Bill Gates did after he left Microsoft? He and his wife Melinda started a foundation. It’s called the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation. Do you know what the foundation does?

Well, it does lots of things, but one of the things is that it works with third world countries trying to distribute vaccines and prevent childhood diseases. But, the Gates Foundation isn’t just some money bags that funds projects. It requires that countries and charity organizations partner with it. Both sides put up resources and expertise.

Gates has donated over $50,000,000,000 to his foundation. He’s devoted the past 20 years to running his foundation. At first while he was also running Microsoft and after 2006, fulltime at the foundation.

What makes him an expert on vaccines and infectious diseases?

Persistence and presense.

Twenty years ago, he established a foundation. He showed up. And he put a bunch of money into it. And then, he persisted.

It’s how you become an expert.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2020 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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