The Recap: The Business of Expertise

My boss gave me this book to read. I don’t normally read business books because so few of them explain anything in a way that you can actually put to use. Usually it’s all theoretical and the authors never address their natural gifts… or luck… or massive fortunes. The Business of Expertise is different though. Not only does David C. Baker explain the importance of expertise, he tells you how to define your expertise and become an expert in your field. Its plain spoken, logical, and objective. Most importantly, with just a little bit of focus and hard work the goals are achievable. No jargon. No bullshit. No “advice” that requires a pantload of money; living in New York City; or, being profoundly lucky.

I especially like that there is no age limit to the advice in this book. The techniques Baker outlines can be done by anyone, at any stage in your life and at any point in your career. If you are entrepreneurial, even slightly, you can take the advice in this book and immediately put it to use and make your work life better. I say that to you as a 41 year-old web designer who works at a mid-sized marketing company in middle of Indiana. If I can take a away tons of great stuff from The Business of Expertise, so can you.

Baker makes a lot of points that feel like common sense, but in doing so he also challenges you to take a hard look at yourself. Does your company deliver on what it says it does? Is your company’s positioning too generic to be noticed? Are you doing things that keep you from being successful? Too many business books suffer from being too motivational and don’t get the reader to look objectively at themselves. Baker doesn’t sugar coat any of what he talks about. It will take hard work and dedication to do what he’s talking about, and it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

hardly any business books go so far as to tell you exactly how to achieve the results you want with your work as Baker does in his book. And here again, the answers are never something like, “Your yacht is more than a means to enjoy a relaxing weekend. Invite potential clients out for Saturday of deep sea fishing and then a little business talk over a Padron Serie 26 and some Johnny Walker Blue Label.”

Sidebar If you have no idea what those things are, neither did I. Personally I can’t image rolling up and burning a twenty dollar bill and then washing it down with a Scotch that costs more than my cell phone bill, but hey… that’s how some people roll.

At any rate, there is none of that crap in here. You better be ready to roll-up your sleeves and do the kind of work that delivers lasting results. Be honest with yourself; don’t look for short cuts; put in the hours; and, learn from your failures, and build on your successes. It’s good old fashioned American smarts and grit.

Ultimately, what The Business of Expertise comes down to is discovering your (or your business’) unique positioning (a.k.a., what makes you great). Baker outlines how to determine what this is, how to build your business around it, and become the sort of person (or company) that can remain relevant in their field indefinitely. Like I said earlier, if you are running a business, or one of the folks down in the trenches, it doesn’t matter. The lessons in this book apply to anyone interested in keeping their company successful or working for a healthy company.

I for one am particularly excited to have be given this book by my boss. I know how that sounds, but it’s the truth. I feel like I’ve been given a behind the scenes look at where our company is being guided and how we are going to get there. Now that I better understand how we will be getting there I feel like I’ve been given the opportunity, in my own small way, to keep us on track.

Anyway. If, like me, you have a preternatural distrust of business books, don’t be too quick to pass this one up. Baker doesn’t bury you in business mumbo jumbo, or leaving you hanging in the “how-to” department. This is timely and relevant knowledge for anyone who wants to become an expert in their field or simply increase there value and relevance.