Not to long ago I was contacted by a law firm asking if I’d be interested in being an “expert” in a case involving termite damage. (amazing how my little site reaches out)
I don’t mind saying–I couldn’t say NO fast enough. Part of the reason is because I just couldn’t take time away from my work but to be honest- a bigger part is I didn’t think I was qualified as an expert and didn’t want to get chewed up by a legal eagle in a suit and tie.
Also recently, there’s been a hub bub about the theory that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in anything. Some say yes, others say no and the estimates and qualifications needed for that status range all over the place. Malcolm Gladwell, the originator of 10,000 hour concept actually never said the 10k gets you to the expert level, but, that it puts you in a super stratosphere level where few reach. Phenomenon’s like Michael Jordon, Bobby Fisher, Peyton Manning, etc. And thus mere experts–well they are somewhere below. It’s a fascinating subject and it got me to wondering.
In pest control, am I an expert or a phenom……?
So What Is The Definition Of An Expert?
Well here’s part of best I could find;
Capacity, knowledge, or skill that matches or suits an occasion, or makes someone eligible for a duty, office, position, privilege, or status. Qualification denotes fitness for purpose through fulfillment of necessary conditions such as attainment of a certain age, taking of an oath, completion of required schooling or training, or acquisition of a degree or diploma.
I must say, if this is the definition it doesn’t surprise me that ‘Everyones’ an expert. I could argue that in Florida (my state) one only needs to be trained 5 days before you can legally throw em out on their own performing pest control. I don’t see much in this definition that keeps us from calling that tech an expert, do you? The funny part of this lengthy definition I found that really struck me as ironic was;
Egads! Am I glad I turned down that expert witness offer. I’m sure they just replaced me with a guy/gal who just 6 months ago was selling vacuums door to door.
The other aspect was are you an expert in a very specific field and not just a broad spectrum? The most common thing I could find in defining ones “expertise” in anything was that it was not only in the head knowledge of a certain subject, but the actual doing or participating in that field.
So What Am I?
So putting all this together, the 10,000 hours, book knowledge & doing, am I an expert, or at that Outlier level? Going one more step, in what specific areas am I at that level and what parts of pest control am I just an “expert?”
Let’s do the math (Which btw, I’m only an expert in)
If I just said ‘Pest Control’
40 hour work week (2,400 minutes) x 50 work weeks per year (120,000 minutes) x 30 years (3,600,000 minutes) / (divided by) 60 (60 min to an hour) = 60,000 hours– Well toot my horn and pin a medal on me! I bet your number is high too! Try it!
BUT IF WE GOT SPECIFIC
Am I a roach expert or phenom ? (really rough estimates & your formula may vary- I factored in my MANY slow years and not just what I do now & didn’t factor in study time)
avg. 20 (specific) roach jobs per week x 1/2 hour per x 50 work weeks per year x 30 years in industry = 900,000 minutes then divided by / 60 (hour)= 15,000 hours. woo hoo! The Michael Jordon of roaches. 🙂
Am I a termite expert or? (includes inspections & treatments)
avg. 7 jobs per week x 1.5 hour (so 90 minutes) per x 50 work weeks x 30 years / 60 = 15,750. Who da man?
Am I a bed bug expert or? (had to change my formula–maybe you do too?)
avg. 1/2 job per year x 2.5 (whole job is 5 hours or so) x 30 years / 60 = 37.5 hours. Ugh! I’m ready to scrap this article! Well, on the bright side, by definition I’m still an expert 😉 Just think, in about another 300 years I’ll be a phenom!
Of course this list list could go on and on and hopefully I’m making my point. Am I a stored product pest expert or phenom? Bird control, earwig, flea, lawn, etc. etc. etc. It’s so easy to banter around the title of expert and whose to say you are or you’re not. My numbers are pretty high in a few categories really just because I’ve been around so long. I hired a guy once with 23 years and he was about as (pest control) smart as a box of rocks. This then get’s me to thinking about our new brand of experts out there. You know, the customer who logs on to a web site and suddenly tells you what they have, how you should treat them and lists 5 different chemicals they prefer…… PLEASE!!!!!!!! As flawed as my formula is they still wouldn’t make it into even the ‘greenhorn’ category!
That said, we, as professionals maybe need to think this through and make sure we’re doing everything we can NOT to be, just an expert.