In a recent LinkedIn conversation I was asked the question,
“Are you friends with all the other big names in the Oracle world?”
My first reaction was to respond with,
“A more important question would be, are they friends with me?”
I decided not to go that route in case the person didn’t get the joke. 🙂 It’s not always obvious, even with emojis. My actual answer was this.
“Pretty much. Most of the folks are really normal in person, so it kind-of sounds cool, but it’s just normal when you are interacting with people on a daily basis, or traveling with people for a couple of weeks. You just get to know each other. I’ve been doing this for 22+ years, the website for 17 years and speaking at conferences for about 10 years, so it would be kind-of weird if I didn’t know a lot of people. 🙂 As you get a bit of a name for yourself, people come to find you, which helps. 🙂 Just because someone writes or presents it doesn’t mean they are the best in the room. Lots of people are great, but don’t like presenting or blogging. That’s part of what I mean about people being normal. People will tell you something amazing, then following it up with a question that makes you think, “Really? You don’t know that?”
Let’s break that down a bit.
Like most people I have several levels of friends, and the word “Friend” in this context is like “community friend”, if you know what I mean. They are people I interact with regularly on social media, email or IRL with reference to technology. I’m not expecting invites to family events or to help them bury a dead body, but I mean something more than “they follow me on social media” or “I follow them on social media”. I feel that should be pretty obvious, but I don’t want people thinking we are at each others houses every five minutes. 🙂
Over the years I’ve had the pleasure to meet a bunch of really cool people, sometimes being a little star-struck when I met them. The vast majority of the time these people were really normal. Often doing regular jobs. Not everyone is a consultant to the stars. You know I’m not!
“If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about experts, they’re experts on f*ck all!”
Jake Green (Revolver, Guy Richie)
I like this quote because it can be read two ways, with quite different meanings:
- Most experts aren’t really experts.
- Most experts have such a specific focus, when you look at their knowledge as a whole, their expertise amounts to nothing. You might be able to perform hip surgery, but can you build a house or fix a car?
The second point is very true in the IT industry. It’s important to remember that some people have quite extreme specialisms. They can melt your brain when speaking about some aspects of Oracle, but are not so special at other aspects. I feel that should be obvious, but I’ve fallen into the trap of elevating some people to a God-like status in my own head, then been really surprised by their lack of knowledge in other areas.
Being willing to stand up on stage, publish a blog post on the internet or write a book doesn’t make you an expert. The only thing you can guarantee when you see someone on stage, is they are willing to get up there. Judge people by what they do, not by what they say they can do, or what you want to believe they can do. 🙂
That’s it really. I’ve got to catch a private jet to meet up with all my celebrity friends to do crocodile wrestling and save the world, while the rest of you wish you were me! *
* Just in case, that was a joke OK! We are not going crocodile wrestling! **
** We’re also not saving the world! ***
*** Just thought I better mention I’m not going on a private jet or meeting any celebrities either. ****