How to Be a True Expert, Not a Self-Professed One


How many times have you read about experts whose prediction failed? Too many times.

In 2007, Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft CEO predicted that iPhones are just a fad. In 1995, Robert Metcalfe, the founder of 3Com, said that the Internet would likely collapse. In 1981, Marty Cooper, an inventor, was confident enough to say that mobile phones aren’t likely to replace land phones.  

These people were considered experts in their fields. However, they were inaccurate with predictions. Can we still consider them “experts”? In this article, we’ll discuss what constitutes an expert and how you can be a “true” expert.

In the past, after achieving a postgraduate degree, like an MSc or a PhD, you’ll be considered an “expert.” If you’re a professional, like a psychologist, a physician, or an attorney, as soon as you’ve obtained the license to practice, you’ll be considered an “expert.”

Being an “expert” in the past only required an authoritative body to declare your “expert” quality. Today, anyone equipped with the power of the Internet can locate information quickly, absorb it, and call themselves “an expert.” In a nutshell, whoever wants to be an expert, they can be one, as long as they have access to the information.

So, how can you be acknowledged as a true expert in today’s world, then? The answer isn’t as simple as saying that those whose predictions are the most accurate are the “true experts.”

There are too many variables at play in this uncertain time. Thus, it would be a fallacy to claim one’s expertise can be based merely on “correct gut feelings.”

Here are 3 important steps to be acknowledged as a true expert in the Internet age:

  1. Reach the Highest Stage of Proficiency

To be acknowledged as a true expert, you’d need to first and foremost understand that “expertise” isn’t as simple as mastering certain skills, like playing the piano, typing, and singing. While these skills are learnable, every individual’s level of proficiency is different.

You can become an “expert,” after achieving the highest level of skill acquisition, which The Dreyfus Model identifies with “Stage 5.”

Stage 1: Beginner

Just starting out, following the rules and the tips instructed. Have limited discretion’s on what to do and not to do.

Stage 2: Advanced Beginner or Low Intermediate

Has some experiences and more comfortable with the skills. However, have limited experiences to try harder tasks.

Stage 3: Competent

Has more experiences in providing solutions to problems.

More confident in stepping out the comfort zone.

Stage 4: Proficient

Has the confident in solving problems without much help from others. Also confident in providing advice and suggestions to others based on their experiences and learning.

Stage 5: Expert

Has a deep understanding on how things work intuitively.

Can handle issues that haven’t been experienced previously.

  1. Continuously Learn, Relearn, and Upgrade Skills

A true expert should learn, relearn, and upgrade skills and knowledge continuously. You can only be a true expert if you never stop acquiring and upgrading skills and adding new related skills and knowledge. You need to understand the ins and outs of something and be able to work intuitively without much thinking.

In other words, you’d need to make that particular skill your second nature. When you’ve achieved that level of advancement that you can problem solve even when you’re half awake, you can put yourself on auto-pilot mode to upgrade the much-needed skills. Of course, however, be humble enough to do acknowledge that you’re born with strong learning skills.

  1. Permaeducate the Public

Permanently educate the public. Share what you know to everyone without any reservation. Today, anyone can start a blog and share their knowledge for everyone to read. You can also pitch your works to online publications so that they can have a wider audience. If you prefer to teach face-to-face, feel free to do so.

The best thing about permaeducating is that you’ll be learning, relearning, and upgrading your skills when you teach. The best teachers are, after all, the best students.

The benefit of teaching others is obvious. For one, you’ll be receiving the accolades and acknowledgments for your contribution to society. Second, you’ll be on permalearn mode as well.

Don’t be afraid for educating others for free. Knowledge doesn’t diminish when it’s shared. In contrary, it expands. An expert is always happy to share, as it’s a privilege and an honor.

In conclusion, once you’ve reached advanced proficiency, you can expect to learn, relearn, and upgrade your skills on an on-going basis automatically. When you’ve become one with your skills, you know that you’ve arrived at being an “expert.” Moreover, as soon as you’re ready to share with others and be ready to assist people, you can expect to continue growing even when you’ve become an expert.

This Article is Written By : Jennifer Xue is an award-winning author, columnist, and serial entrepreneur based in Northern California. She is also a digital strategist for Oberlo and her byline has appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Esquire, Cosmopolitan,, Business2Community, StartupNation, Good Men Project, Addicted2Success, Positively Positive, and others. She is the author of White Paper Writing for Business (BookBoon, 2016) and Guide to Become a Management Consultant (FabJob, 2003).