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An expert’s cloak

Businessman Superhero With Red Cape Dominates The City

Businessman Superhero With Red Cape Dominates The City  

Put on a faintly bored expression, and unleash an abstract profundity

After observing life for years, I have stumbled upon a secret: the cushiest job in the world is that of an expert. In this rough and tumble journey that we call life, they are the ones who travel first class.

Which field do you become an expert in? Well, at the office, you can take your pick from corporate strategy, brand management, Artificial Intelligence, social media... At home, the palette is even wider. No traditional home is complete without an aunt who is an expert in mango pickle, and an uncle who speaks the Queen’s English or has mastered astrology. If neither seems cool, get trendy by becoming an expert in pandemics.

Actually, it matters little which domain you choose, because the steps to becoming an expert are more or less the same. Is it hard work? The short answer is that it’s up to you. If you choose the straight and narrow path, you will need to invest long hours in study despite an uncertain outcome. Or else, opt for the most popular method: simply assume you are one.

Cleansing the minutiae

If you choose to become an expert at the office, you can get colleagues of a lesser god to do the heavy lifting for you. Minions will fact-check, proof-read, arrange for coffee and take care of the million little things that you the expert can’t be bothered with. Similarly, if you can ace a pickle, you are automatically absolved of the duties of preparing lunch. This cleansing of the minutiae of life frees up your mind for the grander things no one else is equipped to perform.

Experts also speak a different tongue from the herd. You don’t try and guess what’s going to happen in the future. Instead, you “study trends and develop a probability matrix”. You don’t just surf the Net and download useful stuff. Instead you “carry out a comprehensive survey and offer an assessment”. And you never say that you got lucky with a sudden idea. You thought about it long and hard to discover what lesser minds had missed.

A vital skill in being regarded as an expert is learning to speak without giving too much away. Suppose you the gardening expert are asked by admirers gushing over your chrysanthemums about the best way to get these blooms in their backyards.

Your response shouldn’t dwell on the nitty-gritty of soil, seed or season. Instead, you will put on a faintly bored expression (to convey that you’ve been asked this question a million times by your fans), and unleash an abstract profundity. “Learn to talk to your flowers, my dear,” you say, and stretching the dramatic pause to the limit, add, “Then listen till they talk back to you.”

If you are not one for lofty generalities, you can opt for the opposite strategy: numb your audience with numbers. Instead of saying that productivity has fallen due to the pandemic (anyone could have said that), you say that it dropped by 84.7% in the last quarter. Never mind if things don’t go by script and fact checkers nail your errors. Simply Trump them!

Right now, the world has room for experts in combating the aftermath of COVID-19 and resuscitating the economy. Make your move, guys.

jairam.menon@gmail.com

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Printable version | Jul 14, 2020 1:14:46 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/an-experts-cloak/article31932553.ece

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