At one point I had a business card where I made my title simply “expert”. Then I changed it to “enthusiast”, which is probably a little closer to the truth, broadly speaking. Not that I’m not an expert. It just seemed a little less… boastful. I don’t know.
I’ve recently had interesting and productive discussions on the topic of expertise. It’s one of those things where you might not be able to articulate a crisp definition, but you know it when you see it: that friend of yours who started skiing when she was 3, and is just unconscious on the mountain; your cousin who has been playing guitar forever and can play any song you name, whether or not they’ve ever played it before. It’s your young nephew, who after you spent 4 frustrating hours trying to turn up the volume on your DVR, shows you how to do it in two seconds, with a disapproving eye-roll. I’ll take a crack at a definition:
Expertise is an ability to apply pattern-matching and ingenuity to a novel problem and quickly arrive at a creative and effective solution.
Close? Maybe. If you’ve read Outliers, you read the 10,000 hours thing. I think that’s in the neighborhood, but the specific number of hours is specious in my eyes — based on the depth of the subject matter, it could be lower. Or higher. I don’t think I need 10,000 hours to become an expert thumb-wrestler. I could explore that problem space and build world-class technique in probably 2,000 hours. Maybe 1,500.
Anyway, I digress. I’ve been doing tech & writing code since I was a child. I’ve forgotten more programming languages than I currently know. I’ve been doing martech since about 2012. I’ve been doing Salesforce.com since about 2007. I’ve been a CFO. I’ve been a founder of a startup. Or two. Or three. I’ve failed a lot. I’ve succeeded some. I claim expertise in a few domains, and enthusiastic competence in many more. Here are some proof points if you don’t want to take my word for it:
Experience and Acknowledgements
In my 7-ish years at Intelligent Demand, I helped build a world class marketing technology team, and helped grow a professional services agency from a small boutique serving SMBs and mid-market clients to an award-winning industry leader in Enterprise B2B revenue transformation.
I was included on Engagio’s list of The Top Marketing Operations Leaders You Should Know. Thanks, guys! (Engagio is a sweet ABM & sales enablement tool)
Certifications and Expertise
One of the best ways to prove earned expertise is to get yourself tested. I’ve earned and maintained the following professional certifications:
Marketo MCE: (in Marketo’s words) “The Marketo Certified Expert designation is a technical marketing credential that validates competency, expertise, and operational knowledge in the broad use of Marketo.” It means you really know the platform. I’ve been a MCE since 2013 — it’s an annual re-test.
Marketo MCSA: This elite certification, which I earned in 2017, identifies the most capable consultants who can not only conduct a complex implementation, but also assist customers with their digital transformation in this ever-changing engagement economy. It’s a lifetime achievement that I don’t have to renew (phew. It was a lot of work, so… good.) Last I knew, there are only a couple hundred of us in the world.
Salesforce Certified Administrator (ADM201): Maybe one of the most difficult exams I’ve ever taken. Salesforce.com is very broad and it is very deep. I claim expertise, and have implemented incredibly complex programs within enterprise organizations with thousands of users. This certification is renewed every 90 days. They make you stay on top of it because they just keep adding features. I’ve maintained this certification since 2013.
Demandbase Advanced ABM Certification: Demandbase is an emerging leader in Account Based Marketing, I earned their platform certification in 2018. This is not only about platform expertise, but advanced ABM strategies and techniques.
Domo Certified Business Consultant: Domo is a powerful and complex BI tool, and I attended their boot camp, where I developed and presented a full implementation and case study to Domo. I’ve also done this in a bunch in the real world. 🙂
Some platform stuff where you’re just going to have to take my word for it: I’ve used the following platforms at least a decent amount, and claim somewhere between enthusiast and expert: Eloqua (At one point I earned Eloqua Master certification, but let it lapse.), Pardot, Hubspot (ok, actually I have the HubSpot Inbound Certification, too), Act-On, Bizible, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, DiscoverOrg, ion Interactive, SnapApp, Uberflip, SurveyGizmo, QuickTapSurvey, Clearslide, Litmus, Email on Acid, QlikView, Tableau, Box, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch.
Some areas of expertise outside of martech:
Software design and development, business development, devops, Linux admin, accounting (which was actually my college major), management, leadership, business process management and design, security, regulatory compliance, technical writing, web developing (tho I tend to leave that to the experts! and i know a lot of them), project management, VOIP, strategic IT, advanced networking, currency design (huh? yup.), music composition and production, audio engineering.. okay, we’re straying.
Anyway, I’m a passionate person, I apply extreme care to everything I do, and I’m a fun and even playful collaborator. Look, all this stuff is hard enough already, can’t we at least try to have a little fun doing it? In almost all cases, we aren’t saving lives, we’re doing marketing. I value done over perfect. I value relationships over dollars. I value honesty over a convenient error of omission. I’ll take incremental improvement over an unattainable goal. I’ll tell you the truth, and I’ll do it with kindness. We all have our gaps, and sometimes we don’t see them. It’s a true partner who can give you the straight truth in a positive and solution-focused way. I want to get better at this, and I know you do to. If we all pretend we already know everything, then we all lose. This martech stuff is changing month over month, platforms come & go, entire categories of platforms come & go.
I’ll go back to defining expertise — it sure isn’t a memorization of trivia, we’ve all got the internet and there’s no need. It’s an uncanny ability to see the whole picture from a bunch of different perspectives, and think quickly, yet deeply, about a problem and come up with a good solution. Sometimes the solution is “this isn’t actually a problem”. Oh. Sometimes it’s “Well, that’s a problem. But there’s no ROI in solving it.” Ah. And sometimes it’s “Ignore this at your peril! Fortunately, there’s a quick solve for the immediate pain, and that puts us on track to address the systemic problem.” I look forward to these types of conversations. 🙂
I’ll leave you with this. I don’t know who to attribute this to, but a friend once told me: If you want to go far, bring a lot of people and go slowly. If you want to go fast, go alone or with a small group, and don’t plan on going too far. I think it’s important to decide if you are going far or going fast with any given initiative; you are doing a disservice to everyone involved if you think you can do both.
If any of this lands with you, drop me a line and let’s talk about it.