The word “expert,” is one that’s used by many but it’s hard to say that any of us can definitively agree on what does and does not make an expert. The closest I’ve heard is the definition from Malcolm Gladwell: It takes 10,000 hours of learning to become an expert.
However, when we use this metric against our newest technologies, it would take about five years to become an expert – but with the relatively young lifespan thus far of these technologies, how can we say anybody is an expert in them? Adding to this complexity is the fact that some people in the field will think, “Well, if it takes 10,000 hours to be an expert, I’m not sure I want to spend an entire five years to find out if it’s worth that.”
The good news: You may not need five years to be an expert after all.
Let me explain: There are certain people who have a tremendous edge with the speed in which they can learn. If you happen to be one of them, you not only have the capacity for learning but you have the speed to reach the cutting edge of thinking in regard to a specific technology.
Those who received their Nobel Prizes in physics 100 years ago were typically in their 20s. These days, people who get their Nobel Prize in physics are typically in their 40s or 50s. That’s how long it takes to get to the cutting edge.
Still, physics is what I’d describe as a relatively slow-moving science. Machine learning is the fastest developing science. You need to increase the speed in how you learn because you need to figure out how to move the learning curve and stay close to the cutting edge, if not actually be on the cutting edge. And there is continually room for growth in this area of knowledge.
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To illustrate the difference, consider a totally different area of learning, such as learning to play the violin. Once someone learns how to play the violin, it’s on a permanent level, isn’t it? No matter what kind of violin, whether it’s one that’s five years old or 300 years old, one could argue that the amount of new knowledge of how to play violin is reasonably limited.
On the other hand, the amount of new knowledge on how to deploy computing in any and every form is constantly growing and accelerating. That’s what causes some software developers to get ahead of others and earn more. It’s not that they currently have a level of knowledge that’s so far ahead of everybody else. It’s that they will stay so much ahead of everybody else for the next 10 years. It’s also that they will be able to continually solve problems faster than others. It’s a well-known fact that in fields such as software or hardware design, these types of people could enjoy 10 to 30 times higher productivity than others. Speed and the long-term consistency of solving problems faster is the combination that real experts must have.
Therefore, the modern definition of an expert is not static. You may look at someone and think that person is an expert simply because they know more than 99% of the population. But that’s only the beginning of a definition. The real answer will come over the next 10 years and whether or not the person who stays in a special category of being more knowledgeable in the latest things today can continue to do so a decade from now. That’s what makes them an enduring expert.
You may or may not need 10,000 hours to become an expert but even before that point, you likely need to find clarity on which of the many emerging technologies you should make a concerted effort toward learning. That’s why a conversation with Roy Talman & Associates can help chart the course for the next chapter in your technical career and enlighten you on the opportunities for growth that lie ahead.
So make sure you’re dedicating your expertise to the right technological area at just the right time. Turn to the name with over 30 years of experience in helping the very best in technical talent to do just that. Talk To Talman First.