Recent long flights have given me some time to think about what makes someone an "expert" in their field?
This question first came to mind when I was invited to speak at a conference for shopping center and destination marketers. I realized that I've become someone that others look to, an expert, when they need more information on the professional travel marketplace.
When did this happen? I didn't study tourism in school, I hate shopping and I never even took a class on destination marketing; in fact, I never knew this field existed when I entered the work place. That all changed for me when I accepted a sales position for a well-recognized restaurant concept that has several locations in areas where tourists love to gather.
Thinking about how I became a "go-to" person on this topic has made me think about how anyone becomes a person to call when others need help, about how people become experts in their field. It isn't as simple as learning everything there is to know about a topic and printing up business cards. We all know someone who thinks they've learned everything there may be to know about a subject and can't find their way out of a wet paper bag - you have my permission to call these folks "educated idiots."
So... What is an expert?