Experts, we love them.
Experts influence people, they get exclusive opportunities.
Guess what? You can be an expert too– I’ve developed a formula for becoming an expert, tried and true.
You don’t need 10 university degrees or be published in a prestigious music journal– being an expert is the way to stand out.
Here’s how you can get started as an expert in 3 steps.
(Giveaway is at the end.)
1. Dive deep
Do you know the piano teacher who teaches all types of music, to students of all ages?
Or the photographer who shoots anything, from tables to babies?
Unfortunately, doing everything is a mistake.
Let’s say you’re a mother…
You have a 4 year old son who wants to learn piano after seeing Mickey Mouse play piano. This is a crucial time because kids under 7 are like sponges soaking up information.
There are two potential teachers:
The first person “teaches all ages.” He’ll teach any type of music, but mostly, he has a standard curriculum for everyone (by switching books from the same publisher).
The second person only teaches young children. She built an award-winning program for young kids starting music, where they form musical foundations and have fun.
For example, she has training for perfect pitch (which is the reason adults regret not starting music earlier– you can only get perfect pitch when you’re young… except if you try pills that hurt your liver).
Which teacher would you choose for your precious child, knowing that this time of discovery never comes back?
Most people would choose the second teacher, the expert with young kids– her service is exactly right for this situation.
The other teacher isn’t perfect for a 4 year old or a 30 year old. He’s just decent in general.
How the expert does it
Become spectacular at one thing first; when you’re trying to serve everyone, you’re serving no one.
For example, Noa Kageyama is the psychologist who helps musicians get over stage fright; he’s published a book and course, and his work is made for people who have stage fright. There are people who don’t have stage fright, but that’s okay.
Instead of skimming the surface, put the wimpiness aside and dive deep– you’ll be doing everyone a favour.
2. Don’t be a cow
I don’t eat meat, so I’m allowed to say this.
Successful people brand themselves because they’re not cattle; they don’t let other people brand them. You’ll never be known for something special unless you convey it.
We know it’s hard to succeed in the arts; beyond skill, it’s almost all about packaging and branding, being smart about business.
When creatives– writers, musicians, designers– don’t brand themselves, I have the urge to tap them on the shoulder and say moo, sticking my neck out. They’re losing out; the grass is greener on the other side.
Branding isn’t difficult.
What do you want people to think when they mention your name– where do you dive deep? How can you say this in one sentence? That’s your brand. Now you have to convey this.
A strong brand works for you, not the other way around.
My buddy Penelope Trunk gives counter-intuitive career advice.
Noa Kageyama helps Classical musicians overcome stage fright.
These people have defined themselves– they exist solidly in a space, and they’re not “for everyone”. (Stop trying to connect with everyone– you’re not an octopus.)
I help creatives succeed the smart way, using psychology and design.
Defining yourself is hard, but you’ll be free to do whatever you want in that space. And you can always shift later on.
Have a solid brand– start with one sentence that shares how you’re special.
Don’t be generic, be proud.
3. Kiss mistakes hello
Mistakes are good because they let you sift out what won’t work.
Whenever I hear someone whining about some embarrassing mistake, I think, “Aw, stop it, dude. ”
You can let mistakes take you down or make you smarter.
Surprisingly, perfectionists have the worst attitudes towards mistakes and failure; they let the possibility of failure stop them. Perfectionists are most likely to give up when confronted with a difficult task because they don’t want people to see their mistakes.
That’s why perfectionists are less creative overall; they’re confined to their own standards and they don’t explore because they’re afraid of failure. Besides the innate skills that you’re born with, there’s a whole lot of territory out there that might be useful, if you just get rid of the fear.
I was afraid of sharing my writing and design and even photos, online, for years. Finally, I took a few risks; I’ve made tons of mistakes and I still get stuck (now with thousands of people watching), but I’ve met amazing people and gotten exciting opportunities.
So just forget about making mistakes and do what you’re meant to.
4. Get famous, the smart way (Bonus)
Experts know a lot about one topic.
The ‘conventional’ route to being an expert is to get a PhD in school (debt of thousands of dollars), work for 10 years, and get published in academic journals. Even then, the ‘expert’ title isn’t guaranteed.
What’s the smart way around that? Get online– it’s the easiest and most effective way to become an expert.
Get a website and share everything about one topic; after a while, you’ll be the expert because your work will be laid out for everyone to see.
When I started this blog, I was just a girl who wrote about practicing piano efficiently; I didn’t even share my education history.
Somewhere along the way, my ideas caught on and I became known as the person who wrote about practicing efficiently using psychology.
I’ve branched off from practicing piano, but the techniques are still the same. When you’re online, you can grow.
How do you get online? Start a blog and share what you’re doing. It doesn’t need to be a huge commitment; I used to post once every few months because it took a while to sift through research.
There are about 7,017,846,922 people in the world, and it’s estimated that more than 2,405,518,376 people use the internet– these people can be your fans.
Just start, now.
Win a Music Conference Ticket– as promised!
Here’s the chance to step up your music teaching– MusicEdConnect is an online conference for music teachers.
The theme for 2014 is Make Your Students Shine. Everything is recorded, so you can watch it on-demand without leaving your house.
If you’re purchasing a ticket to MusicEdConnect, get $10 off with the exclusive code PARTYMEC from Jan 1st – 14th.