I remember soon after we started Schedulefly (and with only a couple of paying customers), a very successful friend told me that we should aim to become the “gurus” of online employee scheduling. To be successful, we needed to become “thought leaders” so we would eventually be asked to speak about online scheduling at conferences and build massive credibility in the industries we served. I smiled and said “yeah, good idea”, but I knew I was never going to do this. In his defense, he thinks bigger than I do – and more corporate – so that strategy has worked well for him. But you see, in general, I am not really a fan of people or businesses who believe they are experts (or the authority) – at anything. Now they may very well be an expert, but when they think they are and seek out venues to evangelize that they are – it’s annoying. It’s arrogant seeming – as if they have nothing left to learn and being experts somehow justifies being paid for what they do. They also aren’t usually fun to be around because they tend to talk and talk and talk.
On the other hand – people that ARE fun to be around (and fun to learn from) are people who are passionate about something, yet don’t act like experts. In fact, these kinds of people are usually more interested in other people’s experiences and would rather hear their story than tell their own. They are still curious – no matter how much they know. I admire people like this. These people are who I want to be like and with whom I want to build a relationship and learn from. Naturally, I want our business to be like this too.
So I think about this a lot when deciding how to speak (or not speak) about our business and about technology. I don’t want to sound as if we know all there is to know and or that we should be the choice of all restaurants because we are “the experts”. I usually just try to explain what we do in simple terms – and why it’s fun for us- and that’s it. And while we are indeed getting better at what we do as we go on- we are by no means experts or thought leaders or gurus. That’s not our strategy and it’s definitely not our style.