In Part 1 titled: “How to Become and Expert in anything,” I talked about 7 tips for becoming an expert in anything. Here I would like to add five more:
1. You have to make mistakes. One of my colleagues built one of the first mainframe project management applications. He had an establishment of sixty employees. His company went bankrupt. It was way ahead of its time, according to him. Regardless of why, after that failure, his hourly rate catapulted to higher than when he started the company. The guy was expensive. Because he already failed. So he is an expert on what not to do. This is valuable expertise that people are willing to pay for.
2. You have to keep learning. For example, someone came up with a “half life” period for the science of project management to be ten years. This means that every ten years, half of what you know about project management will become obsolete. Unless you stay up to date. Staying up to date requires more than just continuous learning. It requires an open mind and willingness to change. Not everything new that comes into the industry you will like, but you must respect the new ways and learn about them, even if you do not agree with them completely.
3. You have to be someone’s “Grasshopper.” Grasshopper is a character from the famous 1970s TV show called “Kung Fu”. Master Po, called his young student Grasshopper as a term of affection. There has to be a grand masters in your field. Follow them. Get to know them. Meet them if possible. If you can have them take you under their wing, you are in luck. You cannot learn well if you do not have teachers. They do not have to be older than you, or know more about everything. But they need to know something more than you do, and that something you are trying to learn. Then you can follow and be their pupil.
4. You have to follow the “Hype Cycle.” Every year Forrester publishes a “Hype Cycle” that talks about what is trendy in IT, what will make it, and what will not. It is important to ensure that you are riding the right “wave.” For example, Critical Chain in project management was a big thing for a long time. Recently I found out that PMI might be dropping it from their Project Management Body of Knowledge. Like it or not, this says something about the level of adoption for this method worldwide. You have to listen. Here is a link that talks more about the Hype Cycle.
5. Use google to alert you about news bits on your subject. This is very easy. You can customize the news you see in Google to show you the news you care about most. Instead of making sports or politics the main subjects you follow, put in the top of the list the subjects that you care about. Here is a YouTube video that describes how you can do this.