expertWhat is an expert anyway? According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an expert is: one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject. Mastery of a particular subject is obtained through extensive learning and/or experience.

And why should we even consider listening to any expert or taking his or her advice? I think the answer is simple: Time. None of us has time to master every subject. If someone else has already spent years studying a subject, or has already been through the “school of hard knocks,” why shouldn’t your starting point on a subject be based on their knowledge and experience? Again, the answer is simple: It should! The old adage that “Knowledge is Power” has never been more true than it is today and the more fast-paced and complicated our everyday world becomes, the more true it becomes. There is so much information available to us every day that it is simply impossible to learn it all. According to Mikal Khoso2.5 Exabytes of information is produced every day. I don’t even know what an “Exabyte” is. Mr. Khoso tried to explain what that means by comparing it to 530,000,000 songs being posted every day. 530 MILLION songs? I love music but I can’t even imagine listening to 530 million songs. I tried to put this into perspective by figuring out how long it would take me to listen to 530 Million songs if each song lasted 3 minutes. It was like a bad story problem but I think it would take over 3,000 years. I don’t think I have that kind of TIME on my hands!

There’s one good thing about such bad story problems though – it helps us put things into perspective to some degree. And putting things into perspective helps us make better decisions. Using the knowledge and experience of other people also gives us perspective we may never get if we have to take our own time to get it.

There’s a catch though: Which “expert” should you listen to? For example, if I had $1000 today, and I wanted to invest in stock on the New York Stock Exchange, which stock should I buy? Should I listen to Dave Ramsey or Suze Orman or Ben Stein or UHNI or one of tens of thousands of other people who claim to be experts in the field? (I didn’t even know who UHNI was until I started to think about this question: UHNI = Ultra High Networth Individuals – after all, if they are already wealthy, perhaps I can learn from them too.) Unfortunately, I don’t think there is a simple answer to this question. This is a question that is specific and individual to each person and each person needs to look for their own answer. You can, however, start by using the knowledge and experience of everyone you know.