The next cohort of The Expertise Incubator begins Jan 13, 2020. If you’re curious, let me know.

I’ve gotten questions from y’all via my post opt-in survey. I’m answering the most difficult ones for you here.

The question: “How to be confident in not knowing everything”

The recommendation: “Come down off the cross, we can use the wood.” – ‘Come on up to the House’, Tom Waits

I’m being a little rough with you here, but only because if you can handle the tough love, there’s a club you can join, and it’s wonderful.

This club is full of self-made experts who have figured out how to run unique, profitable businesses that generate significant impact and revenue. The price of admission is simple: discipline, and a willingness to endure years of mild discomfort.

For many of us, that discomfort is the pain of exceeding our natural supply of confidence. Those in this club plow into a domain that excites us while simultaneously building expertise and charging clients as we go. We are dealing with 3 simultaneous forms of uncertainty as we do this:

  1. Is the domain you choose (a problem domain or a market vertical) the best one?

  2. Will you be able to build rare, valuable expertise within that domain?

  3. Will you push things too far in your paid work with clients?

I have three encouragements for you that I hope reduce your uncertainty in those 3 areas:

1: Specialization is 20% good decision (about where to specialize), and 80% implementation (robust followthrough, good marketing, hunger for opportunity). If you do a good job with the implementation, specialization screwups are rare.

2: The overlap between technology and any other domain is a fertile, dynamic place. Innovation in this overlap is 33% being curious, 33% being industrious, and 33% learning to be a visible, influential outsider. Expertise often takes the form of importing best practices from elsewhere — which requires no special brilliance — or doing some basic legwork like primary research or assembling easily-available data.

3: You won’t push things too far with clients. You’ll use increasing profitability to build mutually-beneficial risk hedges like money back guarantees on your work, etc. Early successes will build confidence which helps you seek more ambitious work. Early failures will hone your own sense for risk, making you a better advisor.

Go deeper

  • Good stuff on confidence:

  • Listen to enough of this podcast episode to notice the pattern of how the coach, Rich Litvin, helps increase people’s confidence: Once you notice the pattern, you’ll be able to use it on yourself. If you find this stuff underwhelming, good!, because Rich Litvin charges $100,000.00 per year for 1:1 coaching. Seriously. There‚Äôs a lesson about confidence in there. (And one about market segmentation, too.) (Oh, and another one about the nature of value.)

Take action: This week, reduce uncertainty for one person. Could be a client, friend, or stranger. You don’t have to solve a problem for them 100%, you just need to reduce their uncertainty in a decision. It doesn’t have to be a major decision for them, either.