Dilema expertului: Andy Szekely at TEDxPiatraNeamt

Translator: Adrian Dobroiu
Reviewer: Denise RQ I’m glad to be here. I have a topic for you
that is somewhat special, but when I heard Irina earlier, I thought,
wow, what an excellent opportunity! Because although the “Expert’s dilemma”
may seem a technical one, it actually is not. I’ll just skim the technical definition,
which goes something like this: “An expert is someone who knows
he should say something, but finds it hard to do it
because it might disadvantage him.” I don’t know if it has ever
happened to you. You know the truth,
you know you should share it, but you choose not to,
so as not to upset people, or because it doesn’t suit you
to finally say it. Well, it happened to one of my customers,
who came to me and said, “I don’t know what to do, I’m in trouble. I’ve joined a multinational company and as its CEO I realized
it didn’t make any sense for that company to have a branch in Romania. So, the technical expert in me rebelled and said I should go
to the parent company and tell them they shouldn’t have
a subsidiary in Romania. But I was the CEO.” I won’t tell you what he did,
except maybe during the break. He’s not present here, but the idea is
he no longer has that job. (Laughter) And I gave this a lot of thought and I believe everything
starts somewhere else. It doesn’t come
from this typical expert’s dilemma that dictionaries talk about
in technical terms. It emerges elsewhere. From understanding what an expert is, from understanding
what it means to be proficient, from understanding what it means
to raise your performance standards. During the last 20 years, I’ll skip my first 20, but in the latest 20 years this is
what interested me the most: What one has to do to maintain
and ensure high performance standards? What are the abilities,
strategies and methods to continuously raise your
high standards, be it by an inch, a foot, a yard,
or even more than that? What do you do? What’s the strategy? And I think two new dilemmas
show up in this context. The first is, there are several ways
to become an expert. Which one do I choose? The second dilemma is
I became an expert and there are several ways
to help others. Which one do I choose? It may seem a paradox, but it isn’t: Both dilemmas have a solution
but aren’t professionally related, but rather come from the personal sphere. To get into this topic
and into its substance, as I’m a professional trainer, I need to offer something very palpable
and concrete for you to take home, so I will start with a definition that can be understood in a different way
a dictionary would put it. In the folder you have been handed in
there’s a paper filled with numbers Have you found it? Please look at that sheet of paper. Look for it ant take it out. It’s a 20-second test,
not longer than that. But you need to have the paper. Those who don’t have it,
look at a neighbor, look at their faces (Laughter) during the test. Because their dilemma will show on their face. How many of you have found it?
A quick show of hands. Oh, enough, that’s perfect. If you also have a pen
that’d be even better. I’m going to ask you now
to take that paper and you’ve got exactly 20 seconds
to circle the numbers on that page in ascending order, as you find them, from 1 up to wherever
you can circle in 20 seconds. We’re starting in two seconds, one, start! You have 20 seconds to circle them. Keep circling and let me know
what number you got to in 20 seconds. I’m keeping the time. On my watch you’ve got 10 more seconds.
My watch matters here. 6 seconds more to go, maybe a few more seconds. Let’s say the time is up. Stop! How far did you get with your circling? (Audience answers) 12. Anyone else? (More audience answers) Someone’s got 68.
Have you passed through all of them? (Laughter) She says no. (Laughter) OK. Those who did go through
all numbers, what number was that? I hear an 11, a 12, what else? (Audience answers) 11, 12, 14. So that’s where
you got to in 25 seconds. Now say someone comes to you,
looks at the paper, and says, “Very interesting!
Would it help if we did this?” And now please draw a line on your paper and see if it helps. See if to draw a vertical line it’s useful right in the middle of that number matrix. And see how much easier it becomes
to circle the next numbers. Does it get easier? Why? Say it louder. (audience answers) You’ve noticed a-? A pattern. Odd numbers are on one side,
even numbers are on the other. See if this technique also helps: draw another line and check out
if there is again a pattern. Let’s check it out: tick tock tick tock. Hmm. Tick tock tick tock. See the pattern? To me, this is what an expert does. What he does is discover
or decode successful patterns, which seem simple from the outside, but in fact they are not simple
for a beginner. So then, when the expert comes, the expert is the one
who has more knowledge than the people who he can serve,
and at the same time owns an extra one That expert owns a simplified path
to that knowledge, so that it can be readily used
by those around him. And now the question is
whether this only applies to numbers or everywhere. And obviously, it does apply everywhere. You can always find patterns that lead you to success a lot faster. You can find out higher
performance standards for the simple reason
that there are such shortcuts. Now we’ve arrived at the first dilemma: If that’s what it means to be an expert, how do you get there? And I believe there are three ways. I found out about the first one
with my parents’ help. Because I think there are
actually three models of becoming an expert in your life. Again, when I say “expert,” I don’t mean
a specific professional standard. I mean the expert in you,
the achiever in you. My parents would always say, “Andy, go to school.” And I would go to school. And then when I was back from school
my mother would ask me, “Did you enjoy school?” And my answer was, “No.” “But wasn’t there
anything you enjoyed?” “No.” “Not even physical education?” “No.” “But don’t you like anything,
not just classes, anything at all?” “No.”
(Laughter) And then my folks found
a motivational strategy for me. It goes like this: “Andy dear, please make an effort.” (Laughter) And every time there was something
I didn’t like, I had to make an effort. The gentleman in this picture
isn’t me, but he could. I have a similar picture,
except it isn’t as impressive. The effort strategy. Let’s make an effort,
and if you do, you will succeed. And throughout my school I made an effort. And one more effort, and one more effort, and I got into college,
in accounting. (Laughter) My father comes to me when I was
in high school and says, “What college
am I going to get you in?” As we got along beautifully,
I say, “Whatever you want.” (Laughter)
And he says, “Let me think.” And he goes out, closes the door,
we had land phones then, makes a few phone calls
to his former college mates, while thinking, you see, then comes back,
I had listened to everything, opens the door, and triumphantly says, “I’ve thought it out. I’m going to get you
into accounting and computers. That’s what’s in demand now. In lași.” So, then I made an effort. And I went to college and studied
computers and accounting, and I graduated. And then I went on
to study for a postgrad. And that was a time in my life
when something changed. No, that picture is not
from the postgrad. (Laughter) But we did have holidays. I’m the gentleman there, on the screen. What changed was something
significant though. I discovered what now is called
“personal development,” and as I am especially attracted
to practical psychology, I said, “I can’t be just me.
There must be others too.” So I wanted to ask around and I asked, “Are you interested?” “Yes, I am.” “Yes, I am.” And soon I went
and gathered some groups, and then I searched the internet
and managed to bring trainers from abroad. First conferences on personal development
in Romania with large audiences, hundreds of people, took place particularly in Iași, at a time when people had an interest
in personal development in my mind rather than in reality. But with much enthusiasm,
note the keyword, I managed to persuade some people to come. And those people weren’t so few. We can replace this enthusiasm
strategy with another, call it not enthusiasm, but passion. But I prefer the term ‘enthusiasm, ‘ because it means something significant. Enthusiasm means
the presence of a spirit in you, whereas passion means suffering,
etymologically speaking. So I like enthusiasm better and I think it can be a strategy
for becoming an expert. You simply make a lot of effort
and have lots of enthusiasm. Then enthusiasm took me with it
and I gave up accounting, although I did practice it for two years,
I must have a masochistic vein too and I was so passioned and enthusiastic
about what I was doing that after a while I got married. (Laughter) That’s not what you were
supposed to say, Andy! That after a while
I looked into my pocket. And I say, well, isn’t my enthusiasm
going to bring something into my wallet? And then I made friends
with a few entrepreneurs. And one of them
opened my mind, at a party, This wasn’t too long ago,
probably 6–7 years ago, when he said, “Listen,
what do you do for a living?” It reminded me
what my mother used to say, when I had stopped doing accounting
she’d ask, “What do you do for a living?” I’d tell her, “I’m a trainer.” And she says, “A tray what?”
(Laughter) I say, “A trainer.”
“And what do I tell the neighbors?” (Laughter) Things got fixed when I got on TV. Because the neighbors
would come and ask, “What’s Andy doing for a living?” “Well, he was on TV.” But I think there are
three main strategies. There’s the effort strategy, there’s the enthusiasm strategy, but there’s also a strategy I learned
from this entrepreneur. He said, “If you want to succeed, you can’t be just
enthusiast and passionate. You need to know what to offer, man. And to know what to offer,
you need to get into those people’s shoes. I say, “I don’t get it.” He says, “Look here. If you’re a man,
and want to open a shop with toys or clothes
for babies or mothers, OK? You have to put yourself
into those people’s shoes.” And I say, “How?” He shows me a picture.
He says, “Like this.” See the image? (Laughter) I say, “I got it. You mean empathy. OK.” And empathy is generally very important,
and I call it “social empathy”, because it’s not just between two people, it’s understanding
what your customer really wants, what the person you’re serving wants. You, in your expert mind,
can believe lots of stuff. But in reality, empathy is what matters. Or enthusiasm. Or effort. We’re not sure which comes first. Empathy? Enthusiasm? Effort? I went to see the experts. You know the character? (Laughter) It’s one of my favorite actors. He’s got a name, it’s Jim Carrey. And I believe he includes and embodies
all those three strategies. Empathy and enthusiasm and effort. This picture is three days old. Three days ago I’m pointing here
because there’s a monitor here too, three days ago Jim Carrey
gave a commencement speech at a university in Iowa. And he told a story,
that somehow resonated with me because it made me smile and reminded me the relationship
I had with my father. Jim Carrey says,
“My father could have been an extraordinary, exceptional comedian. but the problem was
he became an accountant.” (Laughter) And I said, “How fascinating!” And his conclusion was this,
and it’s worth remembering, I find it terrific. His conclusion sounds like this. He said: “My father was an accountant
and he made a lot of effort. The result was
that after a few years he gave up because he was frustrated. And then we had to do
whatever we managed to, and it was hard. And my conclusion, says Jim, is this: you can fail at doing things
you don’t want. So you might as well
fail doing what you love.” And surely enthusiasm
was his favorite, I thought. But instantly reactions
on Twitter came up. A guy named Marc Andreessen,
who’s co-founder at Netscape, wrote something like this. He said “Do what you love?!
That is a destructive career advice. We tend to hear it from
highly successful people, but we do not hear from people
who have failed to become successful.” So it seems enthusiasm
is not the solution. Besides, these people work
in highly competitive fields, such as media, athletics
and entrepreneurship. From there, what you need
to do is contribute, the social empathy I mentioned earlier. You need to contribute. It is not follow your passion,
but contribute. And if you do, the result will be…
and here I got stuck. The result will be that
your work will satisfy you. And in my professional life
I help lots of people realize what their path to achievement is. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years. I’m saying it humbly and joyfully. And I have one minute left. And while doing it, I realized that I don’t think that’s the solution because there are lots of people
working in various corporations who are squeezed like lemons and when they leave there
they feel meaningless. Have you met such people? I’m not talking about people here. And I mined the internet
and dug out another article, by a gentleman named Mark Cuban, a businessman who among others
was on the Shark Tank show. Basically he says, “Don’t follow your passion. Don’t follow
your enthusiasm. Follow your effort. Follow your effort
because when you do so this is what happens.” Very interesting!
He goes on “You work hard. That means you become good at it. When you become good at it,
you will enjoy it. When you enjoy it, you become passionate. And then nice things happen.” And I looked at it and said,
what an interesting link. So you work hard and become passionate. But from my life I know, it’s not true. Because many people
who come to me asking for advice had been working their socks off in contexts where they couldn’t
become passionate. Then what is the solution? And this is what I want
to leave you with: three questions. The solution is
to intersect the three circles. Ask yourself clearly. What do I like? What am I good at? And what’s in demand? At their intersection there’s you. And that is the moment
when you have found the path toward the expert in you,
toward the passionate human that you are. Because what you like is actually
what gives you enthusiasm. The things you’re skilled inat
are those you make enough effort to become good at. And what’s in demand
is the empathy toward people. And in the middle
there is the inspiration you give when you live those three things. Thank you. (Applause)

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