Experts, entrepreneurs and other words we need to redefine
It’s time to redefine some of our oft-used words. I’d like to open the dictionary and start with the letter E.
I used to believe that expertise could only be achieved through committed focus to a specific area and that Experts were figureheads, set upon impressive shelves. If I’ve learned anything as the Director of the Experts Among Us program, it’s that Experts are all around us. They’re integral to the communities in which we live. They’re the friends we ask for help, the parents who taught us how to treat ourselves and the bosses who showed us how to lead. They don’t just tell you how to avoid the crack in the sidewalk, they show you their own skinned knee. They’re human first – and Experts because of their desire to share their experience with others.
Experts (redefined): The passionate voices around us, sharing what they’ve learned through trial, to benefit others. They innovate, they contribute, they inform and inspire. They sit beside us on a subway car, not atop an insurmountable peak.
Linda Rottenberg, CEO and co-founder of Endeavor and author of Crazy is a Compliment, is a leader, mother, wife and co-creator of a new lexicon of redefinition. She’s a true example of an Expert Among Us. She’s helped dreamers get “unstuck,” helped transform ideas into a multi-million dollar businesses – and of course, is a business owner herself.
Many of the Experts I work with are business owners. In my mind that made them definitively entrepreneurs They have turned their passion for crafting into full-time Etsy operations – or parlayed their years of med-school into private practices. Again, business owners and therefore entrepreneurs as I understood it.
I have also long-since suspected that many of the other Experts in the program are aspiring business owners, hoping perhaps that a passion for healthy cooking might, one day, transform itself into a full-time catering business. I would have called these individuals aspiring entrepreneurs, thinking entrepreneurship would only be achieved once they owned a business. I no longer would, thanks to Rottenberg who has redefined a word I use often and was certain I knew.
Entrepreneurship (redefined): A skillset or mindset, possessed by personal business owners, CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies, employees and peers alike. Contrary to popular belief, it does not require you to be a young man, in a hoodie, willing to “bet the farm.”
So the Experts I mentioned before? I no longer classify them as aspiring entrepreneurs. They are already entrepreneurs. They invent, they reinvent, they adapt and see chances where others only see chaos.
Through the Experts program, and opportunities afforded by SheKnows, I have met individuals, largely women, who, like Rottenberg, are redefining concepts. Like Rottenberg, these women have largely been in positions of leadership. And, long before the position of leadership, they led. And tried and failed. And believed. They are entrepreneurs (possessing the skills, as Rottenberg would define them) – and Experts as I understand them to be. They have redefined what it means to be a woman around a boardroom table and asked us to do the same. They have asked us to reconsider what bossy is. They have challenged us to throw like a girl - and then to really throw like a girl. They know it’s not about balancing work and life, but rather that it’s a puzzle where you try your best to make the important pieces fit. They’ve even asked us to see ourselves as skunks (I know, I thought my spirit animal was a tiger too) and to stink.
Why are we willing to relearn these words we thought we already knew? Because these leaders know super-humanity as Rottenberg redefines it – and they opt for authenticity over perfection.
Super-humanity (redefined): A quality often (erroneously) seen as an essential element of leadership. While impressive, super-humanity is much less effective at rallying troops than its counter, humanity.
From femvertising to entrepreneurism, the women around us are writing a whole new dictionary - of real words, built from real experiences, defined and redefined by real voices. This dictionary is powerful. This dictionary is empowering. This dictionary is for all of us, men and women, to make a better us. It has superhuman powers that can transform, but it is worth reading because it is aspiring only to be human.
The next word I suggest you look up?
Crazy (redefined):Crazy is a compliment.