“I’ll Trust What You Say When You Get Gold Records”

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A person’s success level is independent of their knowledge base. I won’t name, but I’ve had several confirmations over the years where someone with name recognition struggled with a concept.

This proves two things.

  1. Just because they’ve had success doesn’t mean they’re a scholar in this field.
  2. Just because you don’t know everything doesn’t mean you’re incompetent.

The premise that people shouldn’t teach unless they’ve had success is flawed, due to the above points. As the saying goes: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

Even that cliche is flawed, however. Some of us have what is commonly referred to as “the heart of a teacher”, and teaching isn’t a substitute for our ability to make a living making records. Matthew Weiss, Kenny Gioia, and Warren Huart come to mind here. No one questions their ability to teach, and they clearly can and are getting notable work.

Odds are, you use a persons credentials as a filter to help you bypass the mountains of bad info on the net. It’s everywhere. I understand your frustration with it.

However, look at Graham Cochrane. Probably the most well known industry blogger in the game, but he earned his place by teaching. This proves it’s more than possible for someone without “pedigree” to be a valid source of information.

So how do you filter the good info from the bad? Easy. Trust your gut, and ask for alternative viewpoints on the topic from the community as a whole. Absorb everything with an open mind. Think critically about what you’re learning. If it doesn’t make sense, ask. As you do this, you’ll start to create your own opinions on these topics. When that happens, test them by asking questions. We’re largely self taught these days, and we have to take an active role in becoming better, smarter, more skillful engineers.

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