by Anne Irene Ryan Founder, Chief Career Coach and Amateur Poker Player
The most valuable thing I’ve done for myself in the past 10 years is finding the right people to show me what I don’t know.
I would have done it sooner…but I didn’t know that I needed to do it.
I don’t know (I’m going to use this phrase a lot in this post, by the way) exactly when or why I decided to create my own team of experts…
…but I do know (haha!) that once I started finding the right people to show me what I don’t know, my life began to change in an amazingly good way. I was able to:
Develop a financial plan that made me feel comfortable taking a risk and starting my own business.
Buy my first apartment — one that met all of my must-haves and my top nice-to-have (indoor brick!).
Learn how to safely weightlift. Taking care of my physical health has done wonders for my mental health, emotional health, and sleep schedule — you’ll find me at the gym 4-5x / week now.
I don’t know…what I don’t know
Step #1 Identify what you don’t know which — if you had this information — would have a positive impact on your life. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
What are my top three personal goals for this year?
What are my top three professional goals for this year?
What keeps me up at night?
Where do I want to be a year from now?
Where do I want to be five years from now?
If you answered “I don’t know” to any of these questions…congratulations! You don’t know what you want to do or what might be worrying you, and that’s okay. There are people out there — a coach, a therapist, a trusted friend, etc. — who can help you figure it out. Now that you know what you don’t know but that you want to know, you’re ready to define what kinds of experts you want on your team.
I don’t know…who to find
Step #2 Identify the kind of experts you need to find. I’d bet you’re already experienced in the art of finding the right people…you just don’t know it (yet!). Here are a few example scenarios of how you’ve probably added people to your own team of experts — even temporarily — but it still counts.
Asking the host in your local taco spot where the bathroom is
What you don’t know: The location of the bathroom
Who can show you what you don’t know: Anyone who works in the restaurant
Searching Google for the pronunciation of the word ‘Worcestershire’
What you don’t know: How to say ‘Worcestershire’
Who can show you what you don’t know: A linguist YouTuber
Posting the question “What’s your #1 job search tip?” to LinkedIn
What you don’t know: Everyone’s best job search advice
Who can show you what you don’t know: Your network
For your want-to-knows identified in Step 1, think about what kind of expert could show you what you don’t know. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Financial questions: Financial advisor, financial coach, accountant, bookkeeper
Housing questions: Condo board member, realtor, your building’s superintendent, contractor
Fitness questions: Group instructor, personal trainer, boxing coach, a healthcare professional
Career questions: Mentor, career coach, your boss, your colleague, recruiter
Writing questions: Author, writing coach, copywriter, journalist, editor
Now that you know what kind of expert can show you what you don’t know, you’re ready to find the right people.
I don’t know…how to find the right people
Step #3 Identify the right people to show you want you don’t know. Your effort to find the right expert will likely directly correlate to the importance and priority that you assign to this area of your life. It’s important to find the right expert for you — recognize that this may take some research, trial and error, and some sitting-with-it-to-see-how-you-feel time. (And this is totally okay!) For example, when I decided that I wanted to build muscle in order to do more complicated yoga poses (the true story of how I got super into weightlifting), my effort to find the right experts was relatively straightforward and required minimal effort:
I used Classpass to find weightlifting classes
I tried a few different classes at local gyms
I eventually found a studio and a few instructors whom I really liked
I joined the studio as a member
This effort only took a few hours over the span of a few weeks and I was off to the races. On the flip side, my journey to find a financial advisor was a year-long endeavor (but incredibly well worth it). Here’s what happened:
I signed myself up for a fee-only financial advisor network’s email newsletter
For a few months, I read every single article in that newsletter — all written by different advisors
One day, I read an article written by my (now) financial advisor — her tone resonated with me
I then spent hours on her website reading every single blog post and watching every single video she posted before I reached out to schedule a discovery call
It then took me a few more months (yes, a few more months!) to feel comfortable in my gut signing up as a client
This campaign took about a year. However, I’m really happy that I spent the time finding the right expert for me — I’ve been working with the same financial advisor team for 5+ years. The bottom line: Match your research and search efforts appropriately with the importance you assign to the expert you are trying to find. How should you decide this? I don’t know! This is something you’ll need to decide for yourself. Might someone else have put more effort into finding the right fitness studio than they would their financial advisor? Sure! And that’s okay. Only you know what’s right for you.
Here’s a quick recap...
The steps to find the right people to show you what you don’t know:
Step 1: Identify what you don’t know which — if you had this information — would have a positive impact on your life.
Step 2: Identify the kind of experts you need to find.
Step 3: Identify the right people to show you want you don’t know.
I hope this breakdown helps you create your own team of experts. If you follow these steps, I’d love to hear how it goes — follow up with me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes:
Anne Irene Ryan
Anne is a Career Coach whose superpowers include resumes and asking you a question just as you've taken a bite of food. She loves speaking to students and professionals about how to create the life and career they want.
While she's not leading workshops, writing resumes & LinkedIn profiles, or co-steering the She Has Infinite Potential Women in Tech panel, Anne can be found moonlighting as a Texas Hold 'Em poker dealer.
You can invite Anne to speak at your organization or be a guest on your podcast or panel.