When the ‘Expert’ Needs an Expert –

29 03 2008

The definition of expert is; “A person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field; specialist; authority.” Of course there are other definitions to this, but for the purpose here, we will generalize. I’ve been prompted to post this in response to finding several so called “experts” who have claimed to know something but have merely regurgitated old information. I’m not sure if this is in part from laziness, or fear of stepping out the box, and actually stating an original opinion. I’ve also found others who have used this title as an ego boost and solicitation of business almost to a level of unethical behavior. We don’t need to get into the psychology here of borderline personalities, just the fact there are many.

I know, I know. It’s easy to criticize, and my purpose here is not to do so, but to review both sides of this expert opinion coin. I’m not claiming of course, to be an expert on the subject, so take it or leave it. However, I’m not afraid to take an in depth look at something, and try to share valuable information with others either. Enjoy.

Being an expert or authority on something doesn’t necessarily have to do with the length of time you’ve been doing something, though time can’t typically be replaced. I feel there are certain areas where this is more applicable. For example, in surgery, or chemistry, this may certainly be the case. More time creates a higher aptitude to predict certain outcomes. To play devil’s advocate, I could say that time is relative. A doctor in practice for 20 years, may not be as up to date on technology, or open to new ideas as someone new and highly motivated in the field. What makes this true? Your viewpoint, to start with.

There are other industries where, clearly, time did not make the expert. Technology, websites, internet growth, fashion, an other common inventions by people who have surged to the top of industries, not from the length of time they had been in the industry, but a combination of things. A combination of what others are calling the “secret sauce” of expertise. Doing, learning, and apprenticing (being mentored) This comment comes from Lorelle VanFossen of BlogHerald . 1) “I think some amount of time spent apprenticing and learning, as well as doing, should be part of the qualification (to become an expert).” Well put, since it takes varying efforts to try to categorize who can and can’t be called an expert.

Experts are meant to provide something others can’t. To manage and create dream teams, design and follow through on a project in ways most can’t, share and mentor you with experience gained through time or hands on experience, and to create that perfect mix of business and personality that creates a win- win benefit. That’s a lot to manage. So just how do we know who an expert is, and when the experts, need an expert? Here are a few good rules;

  • Check background and credentials
  • Get testimonials and former clients, students, or colleagues to weigh in
  • In academia and business you can check claims and references; licensing, associations, boards, and BBB
  • Check body language and speech
  • See if they are referenced or cited in other ‘expert’ opinions, papers, websites, links, and books etc.
  • Be aware of quick claims, fast talk, over blown promises and unprofessional behavior
  • Big, bold type and unprofessional web sites and business cards can signal a pseudo expert

While it’s clear that people seek out experts to lessen gaps in learning and for advice, it’s recommended you do some homework of your own in this area. Depending on what industry you are in, you will have a different view of what an expert is, and what justifies the title of expert for an individual. Many people look to consultants as experts in industries across the board. These change agents are usually at the top of their field and have gained experience over the years. Others think the claim of consultants are an unnecessary evil. Either way, people want to be around leaders, and innovators. People listen to what experts say, and many take it at face value, even doing things they wouldn’t normally do at the bidding of an expert. I’m sure you can think of both good and bad examples to insert here.

It’s nice to think of top trainers or leaders, as the “all knowing” expert, but even top experts need to seek good advice. At least those with an authentic desire to continue to improve their expertise do. It’s alluring and flattering to be promoted as an expert, and hopefully when in that position, you’ve earned it. Many are expected to predict the future, and part seas. Of course that will continue to be out of our reach, even for so called experts.

What I see as important, is the need for peer review and supervision at the expert level. Keeping a thorough assessment on what creates a true expert with some oversite can encourage new ideas, and a reciprocal exchange of information (hence more expertise) all of which can be used for increased understanding in the field.

What we try to do with one of our companies, Lotus Effects, and those we affiliate ourselves with, is to expand the level of expertise by including those who fill gaps in our less focused areas, and push forward for what we call ‘kaizen’ or continuous improvement. We create assessments, programs, and models that are part of aspects of our work that can be evaluated by peers, clients, and other experts. It’s important to seek collaboration. Apparently I’m not the only one to feel this way. These comments came from Ted Nguyen on Blog Herald, “I didn’t create this stuff, I just found them and put them together for you. I’m a good synthesizer of information.” In other words, I’m good at taking bits of information and making them coherent or “make sense.” in referencing his ongoing need to learn and improve his specialist status. He goes on to say. ” So what I did was to collaborate with others who were more experienced than me but who were in related areas like “counseling.” While doing this, I read as much as I could online and through books & was fortunate enough to attend a conference (which really helped me).

Typically there has been a hierarchical system in which experts are viewed, and the more training, credentials, awards and experience in the field the more you are viewed as an expert. That is true, and if deserved, I can stand behind that. But with this there should be a collaboration of professionals for experts to turn to, and the ones I have known to be true authorities subscribe to this mindset also.

All of us at some time need a little advice, and a fresh point of view. So in closing, my point is that experts who can acknowledge that an open peer assessment, and supervision is a great template for valuing expert authority, rather than relying solely on the allure of the ego, will be the experts you want to go to. This helps the expert to keep from viewing themselves as “all knowing”. Experts, too, should create a balance with their level of experience and the weight of that title. The key is to focus on the importance of information and the end user, rather than internalizing the title of expert. Then again, I guess I’ve always been one those who challenges authority, and believes in organic growth for personal and professional development.

Join us for more opinion generating here.


Don’t Let the Fear of Hard Times, Overshadow Your Real Spa Business Goals

28 03 2008

spamoney.jpgThe recession detox. It’s time to purge your personal and business systems from the anxiety and trepidation coupled with hard times. Discover how to overcome the fearful predictions for the economy, and why many feel that these effects have been exaggerated, even for small business owners. There have been hard times before, and traditionally in times of a perceived crisis people tend to stick with what they feel is safe, their favorite brands, and look to businesses that are confident in their product and stimulate innovation. Avon, for example,survived the downturn of the 1930’s by selling it’s business opportunity to women, and a commitment to door to door sales and service. The difference of a direct selling method and an empowered women workforce allowed them to continue their successful management through the depression. The opposite of that would have been the inability of Avon’s leader’s to recognize the importance of market synergies, even in a difficult time, and ultimately, defeat. Are we in a similar situation? Consider following the lead of Avon’s approach in the 30’s, and up sizing your service and retail market.

The definition of optimism can be seen as an outlook on life such that allows one to maintain a view of the world as a positive place. With current predictions, many spa owners and entrepreneur’s will need a healthy share of optimism to get through what these times are predicted to bring. Or do we look to reports like that of the Economist, who say that with the national unemployment rate at 6.4 percent, people are still fueling the $160 billion-a-year international beauty industry. Though there does seem to be a modest decline in leisure travel and spending, most small businesses, including spas are saying they are not necessarily feeling the crunch. The retail director at a Burke- Williams spa, says even with tax season, business is great. Other spa directors and individuals also feel these predictions may have been overblown, and they are still experiencing an influx of people who need pampering, botox, teeth whitening, massage and waxing. According to most we are still not sure we are in a recession, and there does seem to be light at the end of the tunnel. Smart businesses will survive.

What are the real issues facing spas with a cloud of recession, and what are the perceived issues? Though some spa services and wellness programs may be viewed as a nicety rather than a necessity, don’t get bogged down in pessimism. Spas have the ability to provide a vital service that contributes to the relief of increased stress from uncertain times. Well produced services and beneficial products contribute to a healthy society by addressing the holistic needs of both emotional and physical tension. A commodity greatly needed at this time.


professinallearning.jpg Whatever your business viewing angle, it is clear that there is a need for improved recruiting methods for top staff, key sales management, downsizing expensive advertising and new product and market tactics to meet the current situation. It may be necessary to change your target market, if only temporarily, and focus more on internal marketing and retention. Choose a few specialties to promote, and ensure that your services are viewed as a necessity. Your marketing dollars now need to go further so you may pull print ad’s and revive e commerce options, more viral marketing, and of course as much positive media as you can muster.

Take a look at your cities community spending, travel sectors, hospitality sectors and leisure spending that contributes to comparable markets, like spa spending. One good place to start is building a relationship with your local visitors bureau and chamber’s of commerce. You can find a wealth of information on general consumer purchasing, how many people visit the area, and what they are spending. Possibly more pressing is information on increases and decreases in estimated spending, expected local expansion and pre development information. Your city could be a gold mine of tourist, meeting, convention and special event destinations funds. Areas that spas can create super affiliate ventures with.Spas should be looking at their proximity to other attractions, demand, and consumer necessities, even whether people use travel and hospitality to access their location. This is a time where you need to ensure that you take advantage of the market when others are shying away. Hesitation is devastation.


Social proof is a funny thing. Most people will follow what others think is right, fair, or correct rather then taking a deeper look at their own facts and circumstance. Don’t let social proof or majority opinion focused on an increasing recession be one of your mistakes. It’s time to get tough, and creative. Be aware of what the competition is doing, but don’t use it as the directive that determines your planning. It will be necessary to create a balance in the supply and demand in the leisure industry, as growth and competition will continue to increase, and we ride out the first and second quarters of 2008 for results. The supply of day spas is sufficient, the demand is there. You have the responsibility to create a channel of effective marketing that will bring that demand to you, and carry you through what some are calling a recession. If you are a smaller business, don’t worry, you have some advantages over corporate behemoths. You have less bureaucracy, more decision making responsibility, recognition of success, more influence with top management, a niche market, and the ability to directly affect the bottom line.

To create your own results, check out where your bottom line is, and re direct your efforts to high return marketing like a publicist, who may cost less than your current efforts. Focus on creative ideas, headlines and adopt products that will create differentiation. Over all you will need to do what your numbers say you can do. In all of this arranging and researching, you can find solace in knowing that you’re not the only one who may be experiencing uncertainty. Some of your competitor’s are seeking the guidance of advisors, and beta testing new ideas to stay competitive. Not a bad suggestion.

Though many feel that is isn’t safe or smart to reveal their worries or challenges in business, especially in a time of tightened competition. It can be an emotional and financial lifesaver during times like these. Not recognizing these ‘little’ things can begin to tear the business culture in your spa apart and be a dis-advantage to you.

A few suggested solutions to check out are MayerLeadership.com, and Emotional Intelligence seminars. You can also find a business driven healing arts advisor to direct you through tough times, and you shouldn’t view that as a weakness.


prayer.jpg All of this decision making and necessity for effecting change, reminds me of those times when I’m on my way to yoga class. I know it will be good for me, and I will feel better after, but I weigh it out with the amount of effort, time and dedication it takes. It’s even sometimes downright painful, but the end result is worth it. However I find myself watching the clock thinking I can fit in just one more phone call, or a little more work before class. Minutes pass by, then a few more, and now I’ve got to rush to class just to make it on time, and there’s little chance that I will.

Have I some how sub consciously created tasks to procrastinate? Things that will get me off the ‘hook’ of going to class. I think even though I didn’t make it to class like I should, I can still feel good about myself because I was working, or completing something else that was important, right? Wrong, had I just stuck to my schedule and completed the task at hand and made it to yoga, I would have reaped the rewards that I was looking for, rather than putting it off until another day.

In other words, sometimes we don’t do what we should, or what we know is best for us, whether it’s a simple yoga class, or a new marketing tactic to pommel a recession. It will too take effort, and focus, so remember while you’re putting off your goals and change for another day, others are digging in their heels and gaining clients, revenue, and the benefits of a well contemplated plan.


So instead of being focused on that whatchamacallit, explore your options and speak with a specialist for additional insight and plan your own recession detox. One for staying power. After all I don’t think we’ve heard the whole story yet.