To be an expert you need to know many

I had the privilege of having a conversation with Shuang-Min Chang (SMC). What’s remarkable about her is her 15-year experience in the luxury brand industry. She lived in Europe, India and China before going back to her homeland Taiwan after her retirement. Currently she is a life coach. She helps executives chart their path or understand changes in their lives.

In the course of our conversation, I asked her thoughts on being a master or expert of something or being a Jack-of-all-trades. I asked her because I think this is one of a modern man’s dilemma where a society favors experts over generalists. This is evident in what is seen in media. I also tackled this thought and I wanted to know what she thinks about it. For her, who loves to do many things, she prefers a holistic approach and finds that one can be successful not by being great in one thing but greatness is a combination on many things. In other words, a manager can not be great if all he knows are technical matters but do not know how to communicate. I would like to put it this way: A master was once a student who explored many things to come to the one thing he is great at. I must say that I agree with her. Being social beings, we communicate ideas and ideas or knowledge can only be power if it can be used to influence and create something.

Another topic we tackled is the difference between eastern and western coaching philosophy. For her what matters is the person being coached. In her experience, someone heavily influenced by the west is easier to coach because they are more straightforward than someone influenced by east.

We also discussed about perspectives. For her, this pandemic created many positive events compared to how it is portrayed in media. She has gained more time for family, and she has since socialized better. I do feel the same. The pandemic gave people more time to think and discover themselves. Stopping made us look from outside the circle where we have always been.

It was an insightful 40 minutes of interview. My biggest takeaway that I can bring to business is that expertise or being known comes from knowing a lot and putting them all together to create what your are.

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