Be an Expert not an Ehhpert!!!

As we embark on a new year I decided to take a look back at my career within I.T. trying to figure out what was the turning point.  When did it go from a job to a career?  What advice could I give to others?  After thinking about this for a couple days I realized that everything changed when I started to care more about what I learned than the paycheck, and that moment for me was about 15 years ago.  Accountants-Sweat-Shop

I was working at the time for what could be called an I.T. sweatshop with 70+ hour weeks and all I cared about was getting the next paycheck and paying my bills.  Days were long and I wasn’t learning anything new just plugging along, writing code and it was time to start looking for a new job.  About two weeks later I had a new job offer, but it was a decrease in pay, and with a young family at home I had a lot to think about.  Time to make the tough decision of money or the opportunity to learn more, and I chose to learn more.  At the time it seemed like a small step but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made and would also make the same decision again about 10 years later.

Right now also happens to be the time at I.Predictus when we are setting the goals for a new year and this years theme is appropriately, Play It Up.  As a leader of an organization there are many things your constantly worrying about,  but the most important to me is how do I set a good example for my team and how do I keep my team focused and energized.

So how does all of this have anything to do with being an Expert? and what the heck is an Ehhpert?

An ehhpert is the person that is always every questions with:images

  • Ehhh let me think about it.
  • Ehhh I’m not sure
  • Ehhh I don’t know


If this is you then stop doing it immediately and make today be the day that you become an expert.

Becoming an Expert and Playing It Up go hand in hand and this is what I am challenging my entire team to do this year. Additionally, I encourage everyone to also challenge themselves or your teams to do the same.  Surrounding yourself with intelligent people raises everyone up another level and causes a greater accountability with peers and a little healthy competition.

How do you become an expert?

  • Find a lane and don’t stop learning
  • Don’t spread yourself thin in multiple areas
  • Be confident and come across with conviction
  • Help your team and teach them what you know
  • Let everyone know you’re an expert
    • Blog
    • Present
    • Speak

7 thoughts on “Be an Expert not an Ehhpert!!!

  1. odysseywithme January 6, 2016 / 10:47 pm

    I enjoyed reading this post and have also been thinking about what I can share with others after being in IT for almost a decade.

  2. Sean Redmond January 12, 2016 / 6:40 am

    The problem with being an expert is that there are so many fields in SQL Server and RDBMS in general.
    One might start off with the aim of knowing everything about something and something about everything — a noble and worthwhile goal — but specific questions will leave you having to consult Books Online. From there, one has to keep on learning.

    For example, you might be an expert on performance tuning, indexes and interpreting query plans and you are asked about a specific problem that has happened with replication. And while you may have gotten your hands dirty with replication some years’ ago and know how it works, the specific SPs won’t jump to mind imemdiately. Does this mean that you have drop evertyhing and learn everything there is to be known about replication?

    I am of the opinion that one must always be learning. There is so much to be learnt and very often, what you know can be done better or with newer methodologies (not that newer methodologies are better – just that they exist and are new). Target the areas that you want to excel in and keep aware of what is new and coming up.

    As long as you know where to find a solution to a problem and as long as you don’t get it wrong, there is nothing wrong with knowing the immediate answer offhand. One cannot be all things to all men.

    • James Phillips January 13, 2016 / 3:51 pm

      Sean, as I had also agreed with Alex, SQL Server is now to expansive to be in expert in SQL Server. If SQL is the technology you are focusing on then I would say pick a specific lane and dedicate to becoming an expert in that lane.

  3. Alex January 12, 2016 / 9:36 am

    I agree with the concept of raising the bar and becoming more knowledgeable in SQL Server as a new year resolution. I do want to comment that being an expert also does not mean that you will have an answer to every question thrown at you. Even SQL Server MVPs will say that they don’t know everything there is to know about SQL Server. The worst thing we can do is come up with a BS answer just to sound like we know the answer. When this happens its okay to say that we don’t know the answer rather than make something up or assume what could be the answer. Why not let the person asking the question know that we will find the answer and come back with it.

    • James Phillips January 13, 2016 / 3:48 pm

      Alex, great point to the fact that SQL Server has become a very widespread technology. So when looking at SQL Server specifically I recommend that you pick a specific lane. That could be Performance Tuning, High Availability, SSIS, SSAS, SSRS, Database design, etc…. as becoming an expert in all of SQL Server is near impossible. It is OK to say I don’t know, if it is outside the area that you are saying your an expert in.

  4. Boris Shimonov January 13, 2016 / 2:38 pm

    Thank you James. You are absolutely right.


  5. Gracie January 13, 2016 / 3:42 pm

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s