why we love experts

why we love experts … even when they are wrong

Terrorism, the coup in Turkey, the American presidential elections, traffic jams, the Olympics…

 

You’ve heard of these news items.

I hope! 😮

 

Every news item has an expert giving his or her opinion on the subject.

And they use their expert status very well.

 

But how did they become an expert?

Why are they the ones being asked for their opinion time & time again?

And what can you learn from that?

 

These experts were able to build their Personal Brand.

In a way that it seems there is no face validity if these experts are not present in the TV show or the newspaper article.

 

And the interesting thing is that studies show that these people are not always “right”.

 

They know how to make a good impression.

They are articulated.

They know how to give their opinion in a structured manner.

 

So first lesson learned: improve your communication skills

 

However, giving an opinion in a clear way is 1 thing.

Making predictions is something else.

 

Again, studies and reality have shown that experts are often wrong when they have to predict what will happen in their area of expertise.

 

You might know of the 1984 Christmas Quiz of The Economist?  They decided to find out whom you can trust regarding predictions. How? By asking a number people to give their answers on questions related to the economic prospects for the next decade.

 

The target audience consisted of four former finance ministers, four chairmen of multinational companies, four Oxford students and four London dustmen. Guess who made the “best” predictions?…

 

However, that doesn’t really matter.

 

He who knows how to brand himself and position himself as the expert (even though his predictions might be rubbish :-)) will be asked again & again for his opinion.

 

Needless to say that has more than often a positive financial effect. 🙂

Lesson learned n°2: say yes to Personal Branding.

 

Now please do not get me wrong. It’s not because these experts might be wrong at their predictions from time to time, that they do not know what they are talking about.

 

One of my favorite quotes is: “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it stays a pig”. I suppose, you get what I mean ..

 

You are probably thinking: “she’s talking about pigs and she promised hedgehogs”.

Aren’t you? 🙂

 

It’s my friend, Geert Degrande (thanks Geert for the never ending inspiration :-)), who told me about the fox and the hedgehog and the study from professor Philip Tetlock.

 

I, subsequently did some research and found out that Tetlock devides the so-called experts in two categories: hedgehogs and foxes (based on the ancient Greek warrior poet Archilochus and later expanded by essayist Isaiah Berlin)

 

“The hesitating fox knows many things; the self-assured hedgehog one great thing”

 

Turns out the foxes’ predictions were better than the hedgehogs’.

 

Say hurray to the foxes?

Mmm, maybe.

 

One problem, these are not the experts who get their faces in the media.

The media prefers the hedgehog: the self-assured expert with a clear opinion (preferably the opinion of the audience). Who cares that they are often wrong…

 

What does this have to do with Personal Branding?

What’s the lesson learned?

What’s it to you?

 

Here comes lesson n°3:

The popular experts are popular because they focus on 1 message. They will package it differently, however they focus on this 1 big idea.

 

Get the picture?

 

And how about you?

Do you have a focus?

What are you known for?

 

 

love to hear your thoughts, questions, worries, ideas… contact me +32.478.39.02.69 or leave a reply below

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