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How To Become An Expert In Anything: Listen

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Forge Your Wealth is meant for education and entertainment and should not be used for financial advice.

People give out the title “expert” too commonly. The title is mostly self-appointed. It is not easy to become an expert, but little separates the novices from the experts. So how do you become an expert? The answer is to listen more to people than to talk.

This may sound like the complete opposite of what you should do. If you are the expert, people should listen to you more, right? A paper from the Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society could not link talkativeness to intelligence. However, verbal aptitude is linked to the amount of silence between talking. In fact, studies show silence increases your intelligence.

Some say it is because of self-reflection or that it helps to relax the brain. These reasons appear to be true. But, I believe that the main reason silence makes you more intelligent is because it forces you to listen and absorb more knowledge.

The Difference Between The Novice And The Master

In the book “How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School,” the authors bring up what separates the novice from the master. This includes memory retention, organization of knowledge, problem solving, pattern recognition, knowledge retrieval, and adaptive expertise. What I believe is the greatest key to become an expert is a combination of problem solving, knowledge retrieval, and adaptive expertise. I have found that the most impacting things I have learned are rarely directly linked to what I am looking for. Regardless, there was some small portion that was applied strongly to what I was trying to learn.


For instance, when I was working towards my PhD, I was reading literature linked to the pathogens I was studying. I was not reading an article on the pathogens, but an important biochemical process. From this article and several others, I have learned that my pathogens regulate (or even hijack) this biochemical process to proliferate. This was directly linked to my research and was cited in my publications.

The Small Things You Learn Make You An Expert

Ultimately, what separates the novices from the experts is the capability to pull little pieces of knowledge that you probably do not remember in your active consciousness, and adapt the knowledge to solve significant problems.

You can see this in many stories about entrepreneurs. One of the best examples I have read recently comes from the story: “Factory Man” by Beth Macy. The story follows John Bassett III, the owner of what was once the largest furniture company in the US. In the book, Beth Macy mentioned methods that were implemented to try to improve efficiency. One of the methods was a “puntuality bonus” given to employees every month if they were always on time.

John Bassett III said he learned this from the wife of an employee he fired because the employee showed up to work drunk. She tried to beg him to give her husband his job back. However, she always left to arrive at her own work on time. She told him the reason she was concerned was because of the punctuality bonus her job gave her. John Bassett III also learned that the reason she likes this bonus is because her husband never knew about the bonus so she could use it for herself. John Bassett III realized this is a good incentive to improve the efficiency of his employees. The bonus was implemented and tardiness dropped from 5% to 2%. John Bassett III learned something critical for his business from an angry person begging him for a favor, not a business tycoon.

Final Thoughts

Not everyone is an expert, but everyone says something worth listening to. If you want to become an expert, don’t talk, listen to people. Not everything is gold, but you will learn much from the people you listen to. Even if it is just three words, those words can permanently change your life. If you want to become an expert, you must listen. I have listened to others to learn new things. For instance, I learned about an out of the box way to make some extra money in a rabbit farming business by talking to others. This way is literally selling the excrement of rabbits (it makes excellent fertilizer). One of the best pieces of advice I have received was crap (dad joke, I could not help it) and it will help me to forge my wealth.

Author: Papa Foxtrot

Most of my life I was careful with money and learned where I should invest it. I was very lucky to have parents who taught me financial literacy when I was young. Unfortunately, I am very lucky because many people lack the financial literacy I know. The purpose of Forge Your Wealth is to teach people who are just starting out in life how to obtain their wealth or anyone who just realized they may need to learn more to handle their finances. I currently have a PhD in biochemistry, just started a job in industry (will not disclose where exactly for personal and professional reasons) and am currently married to the love of my life. I am one of the lucky few people in America who graduated with no student debts, my wife was not. Over the series of a little over 3 years we paid for our wedding with no debt and paid off her federal student loans.

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