I’m sure there are many Millennials who proudly wear the badge of expert in their chosen profession, but I personally don’t know one. In all honesty, my peers cringe at the thought of being referred to as an expert, even when they are technically qualified. Even with their degrees, work experience, and hours spent unknowingly mentoring others.
You may be thinking, “Of course we don’t want to call ourselves experts, we’re under 35.” How could anyone feel comfortable calling themselves an expert when they’re just surpassing quarter-life? But the reality today is our society thrusts Millennials into positions where we are expected to play expert. Especially in the online space, it comes up surprisingly often.
So how do we reconcile our distaste of the word expert with our thirst for information?
According to a recent Forbes interview with Harleen Kahlon, founder of TheBolde.com – a love and relationship advice site for Millennial women, we simply avoid experts at all costs and fill in the gap with conversation.
Loading up advice articles with lots of expert quotes is “an old-school approach,” Kahlon observes. “It’s not what millennials grew up with. They’re much more used to a first-person style that’s very conversational.”
Is she right? I can understand Millennials not wanting to be called experts, but to shun expert opinions of others… could it be?
While I’m not sold on the idea that Millennials aren’t open to hearing seasoned experts who have wisdom beyond our own years, I do believe that there is a compelling case that Millennials may just be the generation that will never feel comfortable being experts.
And ultimately, does it matter?
Is it really an issue that Millennials are shying away from the role?
From a leadership perspective, could we be in trouble?
Curators, The New Experts
Millennials are nothing if not resourceful, and from this avoidance of expertise, another trend has emerged: We are leading through curating. Ironically, we are the experts of curating!
In fact, our exposure to technology through our formative years, our passion for collaboration, and our generally quite open minds have made us the perfect curators.
What Makes a Good Curator?
I propose three key skills.
1. Knowing the right places to pull information.
This is an art in itself. There is such an overload of information. We need to know where to look for information and be able to access it quickly. The main caveat is that the information has to come from reputable sources. That’s not always easy to find.
2. Knowing how and when to involve other people.
We talk about collaboration often here on Thin Difference, and it’s also another important element to curating. Collaboration is like dance: You have to gracefully learn to step forward and step back. You have to know when to pull the proverbial trigger and when to reel it in.
3. Knowing how to present the gathered information.
There are so many ways information can be presented. It takes a keen observer and curator to know what the best delivery option is. The right delivery can make or break our work.
While mastering the art of curating is important for Millennials moving forward, it’s a benefit to any leader.
What are your thoughts on curating? What works, and do you see Millennials as curators?
Join the Conversation
Are Curators the New Experts?
It fits into the open innovation mindset doesn’t it? The old mantra of ‘whichever organization you work for, the smartest people work for someone else’ could just as easily say that however smart you (think you) are, there are many smarter people out there.
So I try and be humble about my own knowledge, instead choosing to highlight the academics and practitioners that are doing great things, connecting dots between strands as I see them and making the narrative more understandable.
For instance, few people read 20-30 pages of a research paper, but I like to think that they would still like to learn of its findings and how it fits together with previous research in the field.
Absolutely – In fact, I find myself calling the findings of 20-30 page research reports, reports themselves. Ha! Thanks for sharing your thoughts Adi!
That’s so true about the patterns! Can’t wait to see how all generations take this and run with it.
Curating is the new skill. Curating also delivers an opportunity to see patterns in information from different sources. With this added skill, curating becomes more strategic in business and career plans. Millennials and other generations need to embrace the curating and develop their expertise!