I’ve come to realize that there are two perspectives in every industry, the insider perspective and the outsider perspective. They are exactly what they sound like. Insiders are inside the industry and are experts in their field. And outsiders are outside the industry and are amateurs in the field. “Inside of” and “outside of” do not necessarily mean that the person works in the field or doesn’t work in the field. Outsiders can be employees in an industry who aren’t that educated in their field, and insiders can be people who’ve never worked in an industry but through lots of study have attained an expert level knowledge of the industry. So basically “insider” vs “outsider” status is determined by one’s level of knowledge in a field. Either you’re an expert or you’re not.
This duel perspective applies to any and every industry. In the auto industry there are experts and amateurs. In the soy bean farming industry there are experts and amateurs. And on and on. Every person is either an expert or an amateur when it comes to every industry.
I’m an expert at Google AdWords (what you could call the paid search industry), freelancing (since I freelance for a living), and the sport of mixed martial arts (from being a fan for years). But for every other industry that exists, I am an amateur.
I know about tons of other industries like mowing the lawn, shopping for groceries, and buying a car, as I’ve had experiences in all these fields, but I’m still an amateur in all these industries I interact with, as well as all the industries I don’t interact with.
You’re either an expert or an amateur in every industry. And it’s hard to be an expert in more than just a few fields. There just aren’t that many hours in the day.
To give you an example of what it takes to attain an expert level, let’s look at my experience with Google AdWords. I’m either working on Google AdWords accounts, studying Google AdWords, or thinking about Google AdWords probably 50 hours a week. And I work about 50 weeks a year, and have 5 years of experience in this field. So my 50 hour weeks, times my 50 working weeks a year, times my 5 years of experience equates to 12,500 hours of AdWords experience.
50 hours a week X 50 weeks a year X 5 years = 12,500 hours of experience
The importance of both experience and the expert vs amateur status is underestimated in almost every industry. I have 12,500 hours of AdWords experience and the small business owner who sits down today to open an AdWords account has zero hours of AdWords experience, or just a handful of hours if he read a book or some articles on AdWords before opening his account. It’s just mind blowing how much more AdWords knowledge there is in my brain versus the brain of someone who’s new to AdWords. And not only that, but as long as I stay in this industry I’ll have at least a 12,500 hours of experience head start on anyone just getting started.
So because of my long experience with AdWords, I’ve become an expert in this specific field, and the gap between my expert knowledge and the knowledge of an amateur is as wide as the Grand Canyon.
But I’m not telling you I’m an AdWords expert to brag or anything like that. Far from it. I’m using my experience in one of the few fields I’m an expert in to show you how serious the insider vs outsider (or, expert vs amateur) issue is in every field. In every industry there is a group of insiders who know oceans more about the field than you do. And you have to be aware of that in all aspects of your life.
This is why I stopped buying cars. I just lease now. I don’t buy cars anymore because inevitably there will be car repair bills that come due, and being an outsider who is aware that he is an outsider, I know that on every single repair job I’ll either be getting ripped off or I’ll have to spend lots of time (and time is money) on research to make sure I don’t get ripped off. Getting ripped off on car repairs, or spending countless hours on making efforts to not get ripped off is not an attractive use of time to me, so I’ve decided to acknowledge I’m an amateur at the car industry and just give up and lease my car to avoid competing in this space.
When I look at an AdWords account, because of my experience and excerpt level knowledge, I’m seeing that account completely different than how you’re seeing the account. And when a car mechanic looks at my engine he’s seeing it completely different than how I see it.
In every industry there is an expert level perspective and an amateur level perspective. Insider vs outsider. The knowledge and skill levels of experts vary, as do the knowledge and skills levels of amateurs. But any expert versus any amateur in any industry is a complete mismatch, and the insider wins 100 times out of 100 times.
As you go forth in your life and in your work, pick one or just a few industries to be an expert in. And for all other industries, understand that you’re an amateur and that a) it will always pay to hire experts and b) you have to know when you’re a walking sheep compared to the experts and protect yourself a bit by shopping prices, getting references, doing at least some level or research, or just waiving the flag and not playing ball at all (like I have decided to do with car repairs).