How to be an Instant Expert

A Rock Star is an expert!

There are  two ways to be perceived as an (instant) expert.

Now ideally you are an expert AND perceived as an expert, but quite honestly, most of us are totally confused as to what an expert is.

Before we dive in we had better agree on what an “Expert” really is!

Expert: a person with extensive knowledge or ability

Albert Einstein
Einstein was an expert but you don’t need to be an “Einstein” to be an expert!

We will use Wikipedia for our working definition, “a person with extensive knowledge or ability.”

A key distinction is that “expert” is a relative term.

Some examples:

1) People consider me an expert at cryptography. I even have a couple of math degrees so I can understand the underlying (and often very hairy) math. I could start talking about crypto with zero preparation or notes and go for hours. I have plenty of practical experience as well as knowledge.

Now compare me with the crypto gurus at the NSA.

Sure, I could probably teach the entry level mathematicians they recruit from college a lot, but compared to their world class experts I know little.

Yet people legitimately call me an expert in crypto – but I’m not the #1 (or even remotely #500) expert worldwide, but still an expert.

2) I am considered an expert cook by my friends. OK, some of them can barely boil water (especially some of the women!).

I love to cook lavish 5-10 course endless meals for parties. For Christmas, I am supplementing the meal with Steak Tartare (with homemade crackers), baked stuffed cuttlefish, and probably crème brulee.

In reality, I’m just this guy that has learned to cook perhaps 15 things well.

I do not remotely have the scope and breadth of professional chef, for example my Cordon Bleu trained chef friend Steve.

Yet legitimately people consider me an expert.

Expert means you know a lot, more than most, not more than EVERYONE.

Experts are also expected to be professional, and you should act like a professional!

You naturally build expertise, but you do not naturally build “Expert Status”

There are plenty of experts who are not perceived as experts, who do not receive the benefit of their expert status, who no one listens to – unfortunately!

So what are the two ways to be considered an instant expert?

Speaking – Speakers are considered Experts

Writing – Authors are considered Experts

Now of course we know occasionally the guy speaking at the front of the room is an idiot and even a famous author may be a total dolt. There are always counter examples. But even the few idiot speakers and total dolt authors are perceived as experts by most!

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    • Clyde
    • December 26, 2014

    Ted, what do you think about the press in terms of being recognized as an expert, maybe being quoted or featured etc ?

      • Ted Demopoulos
      • December 26, 2014

      Hi Clyde,

      Being quoted by the press works like gangbusters! It’s not that hard either, although it can require persistence.
      The press is always looking for “experts” – using the definition we gave above.

      Lot’s of ways to get in the press – there are books written and classes taught on the subject!

      I’ve had a lot of success using a relatively cheap service called PR Leads by Dan Janal who has become a friend and is an awesome dude. PR Leads connects reporters and people like us.

      A free option (much more competitive – no surprise) is called HARO, or

      Getting press requires some persistence, and I got quoted in obscure places like “Pizza Marketplace News” before being quoted or featured in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, Investors Business Daily, United Press International, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Boston Herald.

      The same reporters are often writing for the small and big publications so do not turn anything down!

      Now did anyone see me in those publications (yes, some people for sure) ?? It doesn’t really matter.
      The fact that I can claim I was quoted strongly builds my expert status!

      Radio (like talk shows) are also relatively easy to do, and I’ve appeared in 100+ ranging from classic rock to (I think fundamentalist) Christian to political talk shows.

      TV is way tougher, in part because there isn’t as much. Many of the local and semi-local shows have been superseded/replaced by national shows like Good Morning America etc. – which means need for fewer guests.

    • Dottie
    • December 26, 2014

    Love the quote “Einstein was an expert but you don’t need to be an “Einstein” to be an expert!”

    So true

    • Lynn
    • August 24, 2015

    You gave a great talk on this in San Jose, Ted! It would be great if you could do a Webcast or YouTube video on the subject!

      • Ted Demopoulos
      • August 24, 2015

      Coming up Lynn, trying to schedule a Webcast – it’ll be a month or two probably. If too long, I’ll just record something for YouTube.

    • Doug Stram
    • October 5, 2022

    Most helpful. An octogenarian and loner with outstanding credentials and experience (expert) in electric utilities and energy, I’ve saved $$$ much and solved many problems. I’ve had status (high positions) but, signing non-disclosure agreements and working in confidential areas my God-given heuristic problem solving accomplishments have not been recognized outside a company I helped (My success often breeds unwanted enemies). My age is against me and survival means changing my career: Consulting, speaking & writing…

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