How To Establish Topic Expertise

I haven't written in awhile and since inspiration hasn't exactly struck, I've decided to write about how you can establish industry expertise. 

As someone who was able to mosey her way into the market leader for fashion trend forecasting but started school by nearly being sent to a special education classroom, this topic is one I'm particularly passionate about. I'm a strong believer you can achieve as much as you think you're capable of if you are single-mindedly dedicated. Although obviously you also have to ground that in realism.

I will never forget being treated like I was cognitively challenged at 5 for receiving Ss in kindergarten when I was fully aware I was being treated this way. It was literally when I first became depressed as a child. Realizing that people around me thought I was somehow of less value for initially being a bit thick and that I would be too thick to notice the sudden shift towards performance based disdain, although I silently did, was a sobering moment. This lead me to realize at an early age most people are content to be complete shit which promptly ended said childhood. But, that's on a personal note so back to the topic at hand... ;)

Before you begin I would suggest reading up on fixed and growth oriented mindsets to do a self-diagnosis of where you are at. If you fall in the former, adopting the latter might be a completely eye-opening experience. 

Otherwise here's how I usually go about it.


Before you can establish topic expertise you need to identify what topic you want to learn about. Is it something you're passionate about that you haven't let yourself explore or need to learn for your career that you've been avoiding? We've all have a lot going on in our age of information overload, take a moment to tune in to yourself. Acknowledge and address any outstanding mental roadblocks in a self-forgiving way. 

Observe, record, check

Once you know what you want to learn about I usually follow observe, record and check. It's never been easier with the the internet. Here's how I would break each one down.

Observe - what you hear, read or see around your give topic. Try to observe from recognized industry leaders, that means don't consume shit. Start with the best publications and reliable content providers. 

Record - trending topics are going to reoccur, names, either mentally note or write them down to add to your knowledge arsenal.

Check - look things up that you don't know to fill knowledge gaps as you go 

You can also blog about the topic (like me, lol) you want to become an expert in. This makes learning active which is also a step towards becoming a publicly recognized expert. Once you get comfortable blogging or if you start out as Mr. or Ms. Confident approach publications to collect bylines. 

Brainstorm & fill

After you've built some foundational knowledge if you want to make the jump from fan to expert you can be a bit collectively exhaustive around the topic.

I usually do a practical brainstorm. This could include finding well-known books or authors in a topic area, market leaders to know and follow - are there events, awards or indexes to help you shortcut the learning process? Basically think about what categories you could break your topic down into. You can then search and fill to further refine you knowledge.   

Cut toxic noise

I actively don't talk about my personal goals around people who are always have something negative to say, I would suggest you do the same. Just have a think about who these individuals might be. You can also consider cutting them out of your life or having an open conversation about them being toxic. 

For example some people may very ungraciously correct you or belittle you. I personally don't feel I need to educate adults about how to be as human being so I tend to add a silent mental label to them - sort of shit.  For any conversations I do have to have with them I try to re-direct the conversation to... what's happening in their life.  

Also it goes without saying try not to be toxic yourself. Belief is either empowering or limiting. Surround yourself with empowering people. It's daunting to approach learning something new, especially once you past the arrogance of youth... so be sure you are putting out and receiving positive energy.