The Case For Education:
As you may or may not know, I’m in the process of getting my MBA. I have an epic love/hate relationship with school and I have only had a brief two years in life (between undergrad & grad school) where school wasn’t an overbearing and all consuming portion of my life. The short and skinny of it though, is that I genuinely appreciate school, education, and academics. This is a far cry from my brother who has struggled with school his entire life. His is the classic case of “too smart for his own good,” where he ended up going through three different high-schools before graduating, and getting generally shitty grades and pissing off as many teachers as possible.
My brother’s take is obviously more extreme than my own, but somehow I think we end up with the same conclusion. Signing up for a “program” and executing it isn’t enough. I thankfully ended up getting interesting classes this semester. The one that is most closely aligned with my interests and the general direction of this blog is brand management. The marketing staff at Carlson is fairly highly regarded (close associations with Target, Best Buy, IBM, et al), but I highly doubt my professors are very active on facebook , myspace, twitter, linkedin, and the like. Web 2.0’s impact on the field of marketing and brand management is dynamic and is in constant flux. These areas can't be taught in an academic setting, you have to live (or die) by the sword. You have to get in the shit (so to speak).
So Then, Experience is Most Important, Right?
Well, not exactly.
Jon Gordon recently made a call for a national tweetout, his reasons are perspective, my reasons are more focused on having all of the people who consider themselves to be marketing experts and Web 2.0 gurus shut their damn trap for 2 seconds while I try to have conversations with my friends and family. Yes, I'm being somewhat of a hypocrite since I really enjoy marketing (and particulary branding) right now, but sometimes it's frustrating that every time you write something in 140 characters or less, you may have to be mindful of the potential impact on your personal brand. Bullocks! [/rant]
But seriously, I do enjoy the fact that I’m participating in a lot of these new venues. It is still unclear how the facebooks & twitters of the world will generate revenue, but it is clear that the world of marketing will coalesce around these Web 2.0 properties in one form or another. So, education clearly isn't enough, and participating in some of these websites (phenomenons?) helps to understand the momentum of a lot of the unfolding Web 2.0 services. But just because you dance in the mud a little here and there, doesn't mean your contribution is moving us forward as a society, or that you are becoming an expert on the matter.
"Of course, the greatest user experience is pretty useless if there's nothing good to read, a truism that applies not just to newspapers but to the web in general. Just like a newspaper needs great reporters, the web needs experts. When it comes to information, not all of it is created equal and the web's future depends on attracting the best of it. There are millions of people in the world who are truly experts in their fields — scientists, scholars, artists, engineers, architects — but a great majority of them are too busy being experts in their fields to become experts in ours. They have a lot to say but no time to say it."
I think it's no secret that my blog is completely anemic in the updates department. Not to whine or anything, but my life schedule is completely insane. This semester has been super crazy. I travel every week for work, consulting clients who have serious levels of anxiety (is there such a thing as an ERP implementation where the client isn't riffe with anxiety? If so, I wan't that project!). Meanwhile, I spend Saturdays at school from 8am to 4pm. And somewhere in there, I have to spend time with my partner of 4 years (just celebrated!), do laundry, pack, and leave again.
So How Do You Develop Expertise?
Honestly, I can't tell you from where I'm sitting, but an ungodly number of bloggers will try. This post was originally going to be about education, then it morphed into experience, then into expertise, then I realized I couldn't really separate them as discreet topics to blog about. My suspicion is that it takes not only a combination of education and experience, but also a certain amount drive and perseverance. But more importantly, it isn't anything that can be absorbed through a 1000 word blog post and that you should be quite skeptical of anyone trying to sell you that kool-aid.