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Escaping the Experts

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Marshall Needs Advice, by Marshalls Carousell at Deviant ArtSooo… blog’s been quiet for a couple of months. I had to clear out cobwebs and a family of mice before I could get started with this post, so neglected had my little outpost become. I’d love to tell you that I was cruising the Caribbean on my yacht having sold my kidney genius business idea for billions, but really I just got burnt out and decided to go a little bit of self-education while I gave blogging a rest for a while.

And I hated it. By Thor’s thundery hammer, I don’t think I can take one more webinar, e-book, online course or program. Don’t get me wrong: some of the learning materials on offer are incredibly detailed and informative; there’s a couple that could probably be used as set texts at a university level. But generally, I came away feeling not better informed after dipping my toes into the learning pool, but rather more confused. And more than a little irritated.

See, in order to sell you something, an “expert” (and they are all experts, at least to their mothers) has to be able to offer you something that no other “expert” can. Spend enough time researching the same niche or topic and you will end up with no more knowledge than a newbie, although your vocabulary of wanky management buzzwords will have increased. General norms and activities are “best practice”, and you can’t slap and “Exclusive!” sticker on that before sending it to Amazon as a Kindle download. What you end up with instead — if you’re lucky — is a smattering of conflicting advice, from which your still-clueless self is expected to pick the best morsels.

And that’s another thing: in order to appeal to as broad a market as possible, the advice also has be rather vague. I don’t care about generalisms; I can get that from reading any number of blogs and newsletters any day of the week. I want details, dammit! The more information, the better. But a course tailored exactly to my needs would naturally alienate a large section of the potential market. Thus, advice, no matter how useful in theory, does very little to address my particular problems.

This isn’t necessarily the experts’ fault, however. After all, they are following (I hope) their own advice and selling their products in what they consider to be the most effective fashion. More power to their elbows. But it is very frustrating, when trying to learn more about a topic, to feel as though you’re not getting the best value for money from a product, because it doesn’t provide you with the information or advice you were hoping for.

So what is to be done? It’s quite easy, actually: don’t read the experts. I don’t mean avoid them entirely, I just don’t think you should pay for any whizz-bang product that promises to teach you the wonders of the universe or how to conquer your business sector in a week. It will only leave you disappointed. There are still a hell of a lot of good business and tech blogs around, with forums and talkboards where your specific problems can be addressed without having to wade through several chapters of waffle. And if you do need further personalised advice at the end of all of that, I’m sure you’ll find an “expert” who would be happy to consult on a one-on-one basis in exchange for a fee.

(Image by MarshallsCarousel at DeviantArt)

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