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Keynote - How To Not Be an Expert30:40 with Jen Myers
What does it take to be an Expert? When can anyone truly say "I am an Expert"? In the software development field, we’re all trying to be experts. We want to know everything about a language, all the newest tools, how to build applications faster and better. But in our race to be the best, are we sure we know what we’re speeding towards and why? Maybe the process of learning, actively cultivating a beginner’s mindset and constantly exploring unfamiliar topics will bring us greater rewards. Let’s find out.
[SOUND] 0:00 [MUSIC] 0:03 So thank you everybody for coming out. 1:11 I know that, I don't know if my top description was available so if not, 1:14 surprise, you get to talk about somebody who may not know what she's talking about. 1:18 But it's all right I promise, it'll be, it'll be good. 1:23 So, I want to be totally upfront with the fact that I 1:27 used to really want to be an expert. 1:30 It was that word specifically. 1:34 I liked it. 1:36 I was really tied to the idea of capital E Expert. 1:37 And I didn't want this necessarily because I thought I was so 1:39 brilliant and destined for greatness or anything like that. 1:44 I wanted to be an expert because I just assumed that that was what you 1:47 were supposed to do. 1:50 That, you know, with education or a career; or 1:51 anything of that nature you come in and you start something. 1:54 You're doing something and you keep doing it and eventually you're gonna end 1:58 up over here at some point, you're going to be an expert in it. 2:02 Not really sure what that point is, but at some point you'll be an expert and 2:06 then you'll be an expert forever. 2:08 And that's the journey we have. 2:10 And that's, that's a nice idea. 2:13 Right? And I've been very fortunate that 2:14 those assumptions have are upheld by the industry that I'm in. 2:17 I'm in the web industry and we definitely like experts. 2:20 Over here on this side of the scale, we like these people who are experts. 2:23 We read their books and we follow them on Twitter. 2:28 Sometimes we even put them up on stage and listen to them and that's really cool. 2:31 But at the same time, the more I went along in this journey for 2:34 me personally, a funny thing happened. 2:38 Is that I started to feel less fulfilled by that journey, 2:40 or more confused by it too. 2:44 I started to begin wondering, what is this idea of the expert that I'm going to? 2:46 How do I know when I get there? 2:52 Am I an expert now? 2:54 Who's gonna tell me if I'm an expert? 2:56 And if somebody does tell me I'm an expert, are they right? 2:58 How can I trust them? 3:01 Are they an expert? 3:02 Is anybody an expert? 3:04 Who is doing this? 3:05 And the more questions you ask, obviously, the, the more it escalates, and 3:06 so I don't really know what's going on at all. 3:10 And that's kind of where I ended up in this journey of 3:13 not really understanding where I wanted to go as far as being an expert was. 3:16 I'd been going to this goal for so long, and 3:21 all of a sudden I started to think that maybe, racing towards this idea of 3:22 being an expert is not really the best way for me to progress as an individual. 3:26 Which also raises the question, is that the best way for our industry and 3:31 our culture to progress is racing this idea of an expert? 3:36 And I sorta think that maybe it isn't. 3:39 Maybe we are doing everything completely wrong. 3:42 So it, it's all right, though. 3:46 It's all, it's all super light and fun stuff, right? 3:47 But we're gonna have it all figured out in 45 minutes. 3:49 It's all good. 3:51 So let's go ahead. 3:53 It starts out pretty easy actually. 3:54 So if we're gonna think about this idea of the experts and whether we can validate it 3:55 or invalidate it, we'll start out with this idea of what is an expert. 4:00 And this starts to get at my problem almost immediately because this is 4:06 a little subjective, right? 4:08 I could go around and ask a lot of you in the room, what is an expert? 4:10 What is an expert to you? 4:13 Chances are, I would get a variety of different answers. 4:15 They might have a lot in common but 4:18 it's not very likely I would get the exact same answer from every person, 4:19 cuz we don't really have an objective method of what makes an expert. 4:23 Especially in this field that we work in because historically this 4:27 field is pretty new. 4:30 We haven't been around that long. 4:31 And a lot of us, some of you may have college degrees, I do not by the way, and 4:34 it's awesome if you do, 4:38 it's awesome if you don't, but we don't have a unified standard although usually 4:39 there's lot's of people who don't have degrees who are very successful, or 4:43 people who have degrees in something else but are still very successful in this. 4:46 There's multiple ways to get here, not of a lot of objective metrics. 4:49 And when I started thinking about this idea of okay, 4:54 what actually isn't an expert in this field. 4:56 I started looking around to see if there were some objective metrics or what kind 4:59 of metrics at all we had out there that we tend to use to decide who's good at what. 5:03 I didn't find a lot. 5:09 There's a lot of range but I did find a couple. 5:09 For example, these are my LinkedIn endorsements. 5:12 If you're not familiar with LinkedIn endorsements, [LAUGH] or familiar. 5:18 How many, is everybody familiar with LinkedIn? 5:20 Yes? 5:23 Okay, I have to be, all right. 5:23 If you're not, LinkedIn is a professional profile that you can create. 5:25 It has all your job experience, volunteer experience, fun stuff like that. 5:30 And they also have a feature called endorsements, 5:35 where people can endorse you for certain skills. 5:36 You'll notice that my top skill is CSS. 5:39 That's pretty accurate. 5:41 My second skill is Batman, which is also very accurate. 5:43 But in case you don't, aren't familiar with endorsements, the way they 5:47 work is that anybody on LinkedIn who's connected with you professionally can go 5:50 to your profile and endorse you in a skill for whatever they want, basically. 5:54 The idea is that these are people who have worked with you, 6:00 who know what you're good at, and then can say you're good at these things. 6:03 But they don't really check that. 6:06 So, for example, I've got a lot of people who have also endorsed me for WordPress. 6:08 It's I, I used to do some WordPress stuff. 6:14 I probably haven't in seven years, maybe. 6:16 And I don't now. 6:20 But these very sweet people have endorsed me in it, so I guess I'm good in it. 6:21 That's what LinkedIn says. 6:25 And I trust LinkedIn endorsements. 6:27 So if you go farther down, I'm actually also endorsed for fire breathing. 6:28 Also breathing. 6:33 More for, more in fire breathing than breathing so 6:34 apparently I don't know how that works out. 6:36 My point is, this isn't very reliable or objective. 6:39 These are one of the metrics that we use to say, hey, these are skills people have. 6:43 But, there's no check-in place to say well, 6:48 they actually have those skills or not. 6:49 Anybody, your aunt or uncles can get on here and 6:51 endorse you in whatever skills you happen to have a lot of. 6:53 And there you got those skills and boom you're an expert in that. 6:57 So another thing that I found a lot of examples are, 6:59 of having these metrics on personal sites. 7:04 So I'm good at this skill, bad at this skill, 7:07 well don't say I'm bad at this skill. 7:09 Less good maybe. 7:11 If you read this a little bit closely, you may notice it seems a little off because 7:13 this is actually taken from a website called the Worst Designed Portfolio Ever. 7:16 And it's actually parodying this. 7:21 And I put it up there because if you think about this, 7:23 this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. 7:25 I, I kept the idea of what we're trying to do, when we get across this, 7:27 I am you know, 100% good at Photoshop or I am 35% good at, at HTML and CSS. 7:32 But then it's like, 7:37 well, is that like your potential of skills that you are possibly good at? 7:38 Or is the complete finite amount of skill that exists in the world, and 7:43 you have 35% of it? 7:48 I, I'm not really sure. 7:49 Where are these numbers coming from? 7:50 But it's a graph, so we must mean something, right? 7:52 So you must have, we must have skills. 7:55 Still we don't have these objective measures in place, and 7:58 a lot of the terms that we use follow the same format where it's a little slippery. 8:01 I mean we call each other ninjas, and gurus, and rock stars. 8:05 How do you measure being a guru? 8:09 Or, how do you measure being a rock star? 8:11 We tend to go all the way to the opposite extreme with experts and 8:14 whatever we can come up with that sounds like that, 8:19 without putting the measures in place to really understand how we got there. 8:21 And the problem is, like I mentioned before, so if you're trying to get there, 8:25 how do you know that this is a system you can trust to reliably get to 8:30 where you wanna go? 8:33 Or, once you get there then it's gonna be right where you want it to end up. 8:34 And that's really what it comes down to is that word, trust, for me. 8:38 I started to realize that the system we have in place of deciding who is 8:41 an expert and who is worth listening to, I didn't really trust it anymore. 8:45 So, a funny thing though with me. 8:51 You can't really see, I'm all covered up. 8:53 I have lots of tattoos. 8:54 So you, if you saw those, you may, it may not be as much of a surprise. 8:55 Like I don't really trust authority. 8:59 So for me, the revelation that this was a system and 9:01 authority that we didn't, couldn't trust, was actually a relief. 9:04 Like, okay. 9:08 We didn't, we don't have to trust this. 9:09 Like people were just making this up, that's, that's a kind of awesome. 9:10 The reason I thought this, is this guy here, one of my heroes. 9:14 This is a guy named Joe Strummer, he was in a band called The Clash. 9:18 If those are unfamiliar terms to you, 9:21 you have some very important homework to do after this. 9:23 But he is a person who taught me to not trust systems and to believe in people. 9:26 He said once, authority is supposedly grounded in wisdom, but 9:31 I could see from a very early age that authority was only a system of control, 9:35 and it didn't have any inherent wisdom. 9:39 I quickly realized that you either became a power or you were crushed. 9:41 I know that ends in a down note but 9:45 it's okay cuz it's actually, there's actually a positive message in this. 9:47 This idea that oh, the system doesn't make sense. 9:51 And it may not be fair and just, well, all right then. 9:56 Then we have the power as individuals to say we don't want that system. 10:00 In fact, beyond that, we have the power to say, we're gonna make a better system. 10:04 So, if we don't know how to measure, how skill sets, or 10:07 how to help people in their journeys of learning and becoming good at things, 10:11 and supporting them through that, then let's, let's make a new one. 10:16 If this one doesn't work we can, 10:21 we have this powers as individuals as I said before, the main thing I 10:23 learned from this is that, if we don't trust the system we can believe in people. 10:26 So that leads me into this question of, 10:31 all right then, well how do we make experts? 10:33 And there's actually another word for that that we use a lot more often, and 10:35 it's called education. 10:38 Education in the tech world right now is a very interesting thing. 10:41 I found myself in the middle of it very inadvertently. 10:45 As he mentioned in my introduction, 10:49 I've been working with a program called Girl Develop It for 10:51 a number of years, which does introductory classes aimed at women. 10:54 I have about 3.25 years of a computer science education. 10:58 As I mentioned before, no degree. 11:03 I've self taught a lot a lot of things over a period of, of many years. 11:06 I have a very strange grab bag of skills. 11:11 As you saw in my LinkdIn endorsements. 11:15 So this idea of education for me is that I feel like I 11:17 never really had much of it myself, but yet somehow I ended up being a teacher. 11:19 So, how did that happen? 11:25 It happened because I didn't have the education that I wanted. 11:26 I became very interested in the idea of creating it for other people. 11:29 So I was like, what was wrong with, with my education, and 11:33 how can we make that better for others? 11:36 So I've gotten really involved in this idea of education, and 11:38 working out the better, better ways of doing it based on what I was lacking, and 11:41 then looking around at other people and seeing what they need and 11:45 what they're lacking in figuring out how to get to them. 11:49 So as I mentioned, I've been involved with Girl Develop It for a number of years. 11:52 My last job was at, one of the coding boot camps that now exist. 11:55 I worked there for a year and a half. 11:58 And I learned a lot of interesting things about what it is 12:00 people need with education, and as I, 12:03 as I talk about this, I also mean that it's not just people outside of me, 12:06 this is also something that you can, I use for me and you can use for yourself too. 12:10 So, we are educating other people and we are educating ourselves at 12:14 the same time and a lot of the same principles still apply. 12:17 The most important thing that I think, oops! 12:21 Sorry. I went to fast. 12:23 Don't look at that. 12:25 So this is another person that, 12:27 that's exemplified one of the things that I think about education. 12:29 Especially tech education right now. 12:32 This is a woman named Kathleen Hannah. 12:34 She was in a feminist punk band named Bikini Kill. 12:37 And she said that, when she was talking about, talking to girls who wanted to 12:41 start bands but they didn't really know what they're doing she said, 12:46 you don't necessarily have to have talent. 12:48 You can just get up and do something and see where it takes you. 12:49 I always tell girls who say they want to start a band but 12:53 don't have any talent, well neither do I. 12:55 I mean, I can carry a tune, but anyone who picks up a bass can figure it out. 12:57 You don't need to have magic unicorn powers. 13:01 Something that goes into our idea of expert, that we have in this field, 13:05 means that you have to be naturally good at those, or 13:08 maybe you have to be an expert even before you begin, 13:11 Which doesn't really make any sense, but yet we have it anyway. 13:13 I've always felt it. 13:17 I felt that when I was starting computer science and trying to figure these things 13:18 out, and there are a lot of people who had had computers for years and 13:22 I didn't have and they, they already knew this. 13:25 And so there's the idea of like well, 13:28 if you don't already know this then why are you here? 13:29 Because I wanna learn it. 13:32 That's what education is, right? 13:33 The idea of the expert can kind of put up barriers before we even start. 13:34 And keep people out from starting learning, and 13:39 keep us from learning new things. 13:42 So I put all my ideas of education in this context of, 13:44 you don't have to be perfect for this, you don't have to be naturally talented all 13:47 the way to the gills to be able to start and learn something new. 13:52 And coming off of that, I've done that as an educator. 13:56 So he said I don't, I wasn't a trained as an educator but I've learned how to do it, 14:00 I'm falling out of this and seeing what other people need to do and 14:04 I've picked up some things about the learning process. 14:06 And the things that I've learned so far about learning 14:09 is that un-learning old expectations is more difficult and 14:13 way more terrifying than learning something new. 14:18 The idea that you have about what it is that you need to learn, or that you can 14:22 learn, or that you can't learn, is going to dictate what you actually do learn. 14:27 And so if you never break free from those ideas that you held in your mind before, 14:32 then you pretty much predetermine your past. 14:38 In some cases, that might work out okay. 14:41 But a corollary to this idea is that, a lot of times that 14:44 I've seen with many different students is that, the things that you actually need 14:47 to learn the most are the things that you don't know you need to learn. 14:52 And also by the same token, a lot of times the things that you, you don't think you 14:56 can teach to somebody are exactly what you're meant to be teaching to people. 14:59 I know that sounds, there's, there's lots of paragons and it's very Buddha like. 15:03 It's hard to almost tease all that out, but 15:06 the point is,our expectations are our barriers. 15:09 So if we get rid of the expectation that maybe we have to be perfect at 15:12 something before we start it. 15:15 Or maybe I need to learn this technology and I don't need to learn anything else 15:17 cuz I'm never gonna be using that, and it has nothing to do with what I'm doing. 15:20 Doesn't matter what it is. 15:24 Any expectation is gonna put up a barrier before what you can possibly, 15:25 potentially learn. 15:30 Another thing that I learned that can follows right along with that, 15:33 is this idea that education is really mostly about teaching people to get out of 15:36 their own ways. 15:39 By the same token that I just described, 15:41 we have already decided where it is that we wanna go, right? 15:43 I decided where I wanna go. 15:47 I'm, I'm going to this certain expert, and 15:48 I have this vision in my head of what I need to, to go to. 15:50 So if I never let go of that, or if I am convinced that that's the only thing that 15:54 really matters, then if I can't get there, then I've stopped myself already. 15:59 A lot of times working with students, and 16:06 if you think that you'd like to try some mentoring or some, some teaching at some 16:08 point, this is probably a really important thing to keep in mind. 16:12 They don't really need an answer so 16:14 much as they need you to tell them that they can actually do it. 16:16 And this might work really well for yourself too. 16:19 So keep in mind that the education part, 16:22 if everything seems difficult, if you have a trouble learning something or 16:23 somebody you're working with is having trouble learning something. 16:26 It might not be the something, 16:30 there might be something else that is actually in their way, and 16:31 if we can work on clearing that out of the way, then the rest gets a lot easier. 16:34 Another thing that I learned, which this is not necessarily a new idea, 16:40 I paraphrase it slightly differently. 16:44 If you teach someone a thing, she'll know a thing, or 16:46 you can teach her to learn and she can know anything. 16:49 [BLANK_AUDIO] 16:52 A lot of these are all connected, and as I mentioned before, the fact that, 16:54 maybe if you're trying to learn something that's really difficult, or 16:58 you're trying to teach something to someone and it's really difficult for 17:01 them to get it focusing on that thing may not always be the right way to get across. 17:04 Not only because of the barrier issue, but because even if you do break through and 17:09 you succeed in teaching that student or 17:14 yourself that one thing, then you've just got that one thing. 17:15 But if you take a step back and focusing on this idea of how to learn, is it really 17:18 this, this problem, this technology, this whatever it is that is stopping me? 17:23 Is it really that? 17:28 Or is it the fact that I haven't learned how to solve problems? 17:29 Or think about problems a little bit more conceptionally? 17:34 Or is it that I haven't learned how to think contextually about what's 17:36 going on with this or that? 17:40 There's lots, there are so many different things in this environment going on. 17:41 Learning itself is a skill and it's something that you actually have to 17:44 learn how to do, and it's something you can practice to get better at. 17:48 The natural result of this, is also that you don't you get to a point where you 17:53 realize that the only expertise that really has, at the end result of this, 17:58 is just realizing how much more there is that you need to learn. 18:04 Which again is not a new concept, 18:06 people have been saying this sort of thing for a long time. 18:08 But it's very interesting when you finally realize in your own life how true it is. 18:12 When I think about some of the most influential people or 18:16 the smartest people I've ever gotten to work with, 18:19 the people that I considered the absolute experts at the top of their field, 18:22 one thing that always kept them connected or not really connected, but one thing 18:27 they always had in common was that none of them ever thought they were experts. 18:30 Because to their mind, they knew exactly how much they didn't know, and 18:34 they were constantly humbled and excited at the same time by what they didn't know. 18:38 And so it became very clear to me that this idea of learning to 18:43 learn is the skill in itself and its result is just learning that this is 18:47 a constant process that we are gonna go through. 18:51 Being able to fully embrace that and accept that and integrate it 18:54 into your own style is the most expert person skill that I have ever seen. 18:58 [BLANK_AUDIO] 19:02 So I've been talking about education, and 19:06 talking about what I have seen in people and what works in people. 19:09 Through a lot of the educational programs and 19:15 things that I've worked on, I have worked to create an environment where 19:18 people could succeed at this sort of things. 19:21 It's not the traditional educational environment. 19:24 All those things I described is not what you would get when you're in elementary 19:26 school and you could sit in down in a class and teachers talking at you. 19:29 And you have to take standardize test and things like that. 19:32 So we're a little bit out of the bubble. 19:35 You know once we step out of that bubble, and then we're kinda like, okay, 19:38 that's great, we did all those fun things and we're in that class once, and 19:41 I totally feel like I am learning to learn and I'm pushing through barriers, and 19:45 I am understanding how much more I have to learn, and 19:50 I feel really confident about all that, then you go out in the world. 19:52 And the world does not reflect that yet. 19:56 It may some day but it doesn't yet. 19:57 So what do we do when we have these ideas of what we want to 20:01 see out in the world of these journeys? 20:05 And it's most importantly, 20:08 what do we tell people who are coming into this field right now? 20:10 How many people have people who ask them about how they got to 20:14 be where they are now? 20:17 Or how they can break into doing any sort of programming designing, 20:18 whatever it is you do? 20:21 How many of you know exactly what to tell them? 20:24 Okay. 20:25 You may just be playing nice with me, but I know I don't know what to tell them, 20:28 I know it feels a lot of people don't know what to tell them either. 20:31 I don't know what to tell people the right way to get in this. 20:33 Because like I said, I've learned that the journey is not as simple and, and 20:36 linear as I thought it was. 20:40 It's not a simple just to start out doing things and keep doing them, 20:42 and then eventually you're gonna have a nice, stable, expert foundation. 20:45 I'm not even really sure what direction to point them in, 20:48 cuz I'm not sure what exist out there. 20:51 I have some of these tricks, I know about process, I know about this middle ground. 20:53 But then we aren't, where do we end up? 20:58 And even if we get to a place where we're happy inside, 21:00 then we gotta go back out in the world and think about this industry. 21:02 You know, it's one thing to be a beginner at the beginning. 21:05 But it's another thing to keep a beginner's mind and to actively work to 21:08 resist all these labels and expectations that get put on you once 21:12 you start taking these things out into the world and we go in the whole industry. 21:16 We can teach beginners all we want, we can teach ourselves all we want about process, 21:22 but if we don't have an end result that they can trust, that they can rely on, 21:27 a new system for them to work within, it's not gonna be a whole lot. 21:30 And that's something that I struggle with, cuz I'm not sure how close we are to 21:34 having a system in place that we can actually trust. 21:38 That we can continue on ourselves and bring other people in towards. 21:41 So I have another quote and it's very long but stick with me. 21:46 Like most of the others, 21:52 I was a seeker, a mover, a malcontent, and at times a stupid hell-raiser. 21:53 I was never idle enough long enough to do much thinking, but 21:58 I felt somehow that my instincts were right. 22:01 I shared a vagrant optimism that some of us were making real progress, that we had 22:04 taken an honest road and that the best of us would inevitably make it over the top. 22:08 At the same time, 22:13 I shared a dark suspicion that the life we were leading was a lost cause. 22:14 That we were all actors, kidding ourselves along a senseless odyssey. 22:18 It was the tension between these two poles, a restless idealism on one hand and 22:21 a sense of impending doom on the other, that kept me going. 22:25 [BLANK_AUDIO] 22:29 I worry a lot about my daughter coming into the technology industry without this 22:31 clear systive in place about where she can go. 22:35 Who are the people that she's going to be looking up to? 22:39 Who are her experts? 22:41 I feel that sometimes, the idea of our expert has gotten all tangled up in 22:44 this idea of, who happens to be on top now, which may or 22:48 may not have anything to do with their expertise. 22:52 We can fall into a trap of thinking that the people we need to listen to 22:55 as experts are the people who will look a certain way and live in a certain place, 22:58 and have a certain lifestyle. 23:03 And the more we have experts who are like that, the more the idea of the expert gets 23:05 tangled up in all of these extra things, and again not their expertise. 23:10 And we can have this cycle that's gonna create a culture where we can only 23:13 create more experts that fit more of those molds, and we have a really difficult time 23:17 bringing in new people and progressing other people who don't fit those molds. 23:21 Taking it some time out to stop and think about whether the culture that we have and 23:27 these ideas of experts that are leading that culture is exactly the culture that 23:31 we want, and that we want to bring people in is extremely important to me. 23:35 Because I wanna make sure that we are giving people coming in 23:38 a place that they can trust, and people that they can trust to lead them. 23:42 And I want that too. 23:46 I wanna continue on doing this, and I want to be able to look around and 23:47 know that we're may, hopefully, we're on the same page. 23:51 That we wanna progress, and that we wanna be able to trust each other. 23:54 And that we wanna have experts that are not just there because they 23:57 happen to be a certain type or they happen to have certain labels or 24:01 they have to have just been lucky. 24:05 That they are people that we can really admire and look up to and, and 24:06 want to follow. 24:10 [BLANK_AUDIO] 24:11 Sorry. [LAUGH]. 24:15 So really all of my experts, they are now they're, 24:21 the questioners and explorers and the learners and the beginners and 24:25 the, the screw ups and the risk takers and punks and rebels with causes. 24:31 If we wanna progress as individuals and 24:36 progress as an industry, we have to let go of this idea of lin, linear journeys and 24:38 the idea of a certain destination and start exploring. 24:45 And start creating an environment where it's safe to explore and 24:51 encouraged to explore. 24:54 And here's my recipe for doing that sort of thing. 24:57 We can do it. 25:00 It's a little bit more difficult to take it out into the world and 25:01 make it happen, but you can do it in your meetup groups. 25:04 You can do it your companies. 25:07 You can do it in your families. 25:08 You can start creating an environment where it is 25:09 not the only thing that you need to do is be an expert in something, or 25:12 be perfed against something, or know exactly where you're going all the time. 25:16 We can start creating environments where it's okay to make mistakes, and 25:21 it's better to just go ahead and start trying things and learning new things, and 25:25 making sure you're constantly challenging yourself. 25:29 Here's a really good way concrete way to do that. 25:34 So everybody here you probably are at a certain level of expertise with 25:37 what you know in your field, and you seem to be interested in making that more, 25:41 otherwise you wouldn't be here, right? 25:45 And that's a great thing, you should definitely continue getting good at 25:46 the things that you like getting good at. 25:49 Expertise itself is not the problem, right? 25:50 Just this idea of what we have to be, or be, or do with it. 25:53 But, go try to do something that you have absolutely no idea what to do. 25:57 Take a new class, pick up a new language, it could be anything, and just, you don't 26:02 necessarily need to pick it right away, maybe something will just come to you. 26:09 An example that I use that happened to me over summer completely, 26:12 I say happened to me, I chose to do it. 26:16 But it came across my path as I took a trapeze class, like literally a trapeze, 26:18 you're flying. 26:23 And you have a harness and you have a net and all that stuff. 26:24 And I'm not terribly afraid of heights, but I learned that no matter how cool it 26:28 looked or how cool the idea was, climbing up to a 50, 40, 50, I don't even know 26:32 how much it was platform, and jumping is a really, really scary thing to do. 26:37 I did it but it was really scary. 26:42 And it was really difficult. 26:46 But I'm glad it was because now I have that experience to go back to and 26:48 be like, all right, [LAUGH] I remember now what it's like to do 26:51 something that's completely unfamiliar, that's completely off the beaten path, 26:54 something that I haven't done for a long time. 26:58 And you're right on the edge of that platform, and 27:00 you know you're gonna have to jump, and it's terrifying. 27:02 That's what other people feel like when they're learning this type of stuff. 27:06 And that's a really great thing to remember, 27:09 because when you have that empathy in you, 27:11 then you can create an environment that makes it safe for people to jump. 27:14 You can create an environment where you have that net and 27:17 you have a harness, and people are able to jump and experience something new and 27:19 what it feels like, and you're there to catch them, because you know yourself what 27:24 it's like to do that and have somebody else catch you. 27:27 So I would challenge everybody to, to do this. 27:31 Go out and find, well, you don't have to take a trapeze class, 27:34 although you should because it's totally fun. 27:36 Scary, but fun. 27:38 And maybe some of you are like arialists. 27:40 You know, you're like, yeah, whatever, I do that all the time. 27:41 It doesn't matter what it is. 27:45 Everybody has something. 27:46 We don't have any linear journeys of this, you start at one place and 27:48 everybody has to start at this place. 27:51 And you have to do all of these things, and 27:52 everybody's gonna end up at a certain place. 27:54 It doesn't exist, it's a myth, and that's a good thing. 27:56 We all have our own journeys. 27:59 And we're all, we all start where we start but we can go wherever we wanna go. 28:00 And maybe we don't even have to pick, pick where we wanna go. 28:04 Maybe we can just work on being authentic and having that authentic journey. 28:07 And then we're gonna end up where we need to end up. 28:11 And we're not gonna hold those expectations on ourselves or others. 28:12 So, take a risk, learn something new, remember what that feels like, 28:16 and then use those feelings to create an environment where other people can 28:21 experience the same thing in a safe way and see what happens from it. 28:25 And then you just have to repeat that over and over and over again. 28:30 Sorry, I keep losing you,. 28:32 You may never be an expert, and 28:35 that's completely okay, in fact it may even be a positive thing. 28:37 But, anybody can really do that, or they can be the idea of an expert, right? 28:41 It's just like a recipe or a formula. 28:47 But I think that we are better than that, 28:49 I don't think we need our recipes or formulas. 28:51 I think that we can do is learn how to do things 28:53 in an unexpected way, and discover what's out there, instead of following a path. 28:58 If we really wanna progress what we're doing and what we're making, and bring new 29:02 people in, and keep this field going, new meeting, making creative things, then we 29:07 have to let go of the old supported ideas of what we're supposed to be, 29:11 and then we'll be able to create something and become something that's truly new. 29:15 So this is the process that I've gone through, 29:21 thinking about how to be an expert. 29:23 And that's why, 29:24 at this point, I'm completely confident in saying, I'm not an expert. 29:25 I have learned what I've learned, I have some experience. 29:28 I may have some expertise in certain skills, and that's cool, but I no 29:32 longer think that there's this destination of something that I have to get to. 29:36 And I'm no longer afraid to try new things because I won't be an expert in that or 29:41 I'll never get to be an expert. 29:45 It doesn't matter. 29:47 And I like this idea of championing an anti-expert. 29:48 Somebody who is, that's right I'm not an expert, I'm just me. 29:52 And I have something to say, and then we should bring more people up there. 29:57 I don't wanna be the only person on stage, or 30:00 be the only person, you know, writing the books or [UNKNOWN] on Twitter. 30:03 Everybody really has something to say. 30:07 So the more that we can bring all those voices to the table, 30:08 the more we're gonna have potential and opportunity for progress and innovation. 30:12 I know that sounds a little cheesy, but it's really honestly true. 30:17 So I've come around to be proud of not being an expert. 30:20 And I've come around to being proud of being able to forge a new journey. 30:23 And I'm not so scared anymore that I don't know where I'm going. 30:29 And that's all I've got for you. 30:34 So thank you. 30:36 >> [APPLAUSE] 30:37
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