Everyone’s an Expert

The title may sound facetious (‚Äúeveryone’s a comedian‚Äù), but it’s a statement of fact.

If you’re reading this, you are the foremost expert at something. No one else is an expert in exactly the same combination of things and in exactly the same way as you are.

It’s as true of companies and organizations as it is of people.

The trick is to zero in on your expertise, your unique combination of style and knowledge and talent, and then focus. Celebrate what you alone can do.

Focus your expertise, find¬†build your network around it and keep the opportunities for serendipity at a maximum. If you can do this,¬†you will never have to worry about competition. It won’t exist.

I’m reminded of this with every project I take on. The people I work with are experts in what they do, and I’m an expert in helping them focus on it, remove the distractions and connect with the people who can benefit from it.

It really is amazing and true. You’re an expert. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Building a web of your own

I’ve written before about how the basic building block of the web is the hyperlink. And that in turn is the beginning of its interactive nature. It’s the element that supercharges our reading and writing. The written word with a twist.

I’ve also discussed the trouble with Facebook (though anytime you see me use the word Facebook, please use it as a “fill in the blank” for all the silos that have emerged on the web in recent years). These silos are attempts at reigning things in, as though hyperlinks exist only in some manner they dictate. They call it “user experience,” but really it is an attempt to hold us in as long as possible and sell our eyeballs. As though we were eyeballs. As though the web were television.

The web sprawls because it’s open, and that makes it difficult for traditional advertising models. They don’t apply. These silos won’t last in the long term‚Äînot without adapting themselves. The trouble is that now there’s a lot of money on the line and big media is betting it all on them.

I’ve always advocated for looking at marketing in the interactive age as being best when it creates the conditions for serendipity. Instead of fighting the web from the old media lens, you should embrace it and communicate through it.

The funny thing about these silos is that they really are just blogging platforms with a few bells and whistles and with clipped wings. In some ways the only improvement is the simplicity of connecting with others that they provide. But in the end, by hemming everything in, they will eventually be usurped. It’s happened before and just because they are even bigger now, does not mean it won’t happen again.

If you care about communicating effectively with your friends or customers or community in the interactive age, don’t be fooled by the glossy tricks. Don’t trap yourself in the walled silos of 20th century thinking on top of 21st century media. Instead, think through who you are, who your network is and how you are going to create the perfect conditions for serendipity. If you do it right, you’ll build a web of your own that just keeps growing‚Äîwith opportunities for serendipity multiplying over time.

I’m toying with some new software that’s being built by Dave Winer, the proto-blogger, inventor of RSS. I think it is the beginning of a true evolution of the web that will help structure thoughts and build communities. I’ll have more to write about that tomorrow, but if you want to take a peek, you can find my early experimentation here.

UPDATE: here’s my post about Dave Winer’s new software.

Why an open web is better for business

There are plenty of people around who will talk about all the moral reasons why we need to keep the web open. It’s democratic. It allows for free speech. It makes information accessible to everyone.

One thing that’s neglected in these conversations is this: an open web isn’t simply good for hippies and the furthering of peace, love and understanding‚Äîit’s good for business.

On an open web, you are free to carve out your own space and connect with potential customers on your own terms. You are not restricted by what the gate-keepers decide you can and can’t do in their space.¬†The bar to entry is wonderfully low, and you can express all the brilliant originality of your business in ways that suit you and your customers. You get to be a personality, and that is a great way to create the conditions for serendipity.

I’ve written a fair bit about why blogging should be your first instinct (and I’ll probably write more) but for now, I’ll leave you with this analogy:

Social media platforms are like massive hotels where you can check in but never check out. A Blog is a bed and breakfast you own, where you entertain your guests in your own way and point them to other bed and breakfasts they’ll enjoy.