There is no shortage of experts these days- there is inflation, hunger and possibly global warming, but there’s no shortage of experts.
Thanks to the internet, and daytime talk shows, anyone calling themselves an expert is assumed to be an expert. If you read it on the internet then it must be true. Some self-proclaimed experts are great at self-promotion, but not necessarily the true expert they say they are. Just because someone says that they love chocolate doesn’t necessarily mean they actually distinguish a fine choclate from the over-sugared “confectionery” confused for chocolate these days. Erma Bombeck said it best when she reminded people not to confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other.
Yes, everyone wants to get ahead and improve their circumstances; and one can’t blame them for trying, but not everyone knows how to do it, nor is qualified to talk about it. Least of all call themselves an expert. So how do we recognise a true expert? JoziStyle believes that you just know when you know, because a true expert walks the walk and talks the talk. They are impressive without trying to impress, and they can talk your language instead of trying to confuse you with theirs.
JoziStyle met Douglas Kruger, who doesn’t talk about himself as being an expert even though he’s won his district’s International Speech Contest a record five times, and he placed second in Toastmasters’ 2004 World Championship of Public Speaking. He’s also a multiple author and award-winning motivational speaker who specialises in helping entrepreneurs to manage their minds and grow their potential. And, his latest book Own Your Industry: How to Position Yourself as an Expert has sold out and a second edition has just been published by Penguin.
Our first impression when we first met him was of a man brimming with quiet confidence. Not arrogance, because anyone can fake arrogance, but confidence. He was casually dressed in blue jeans and a white T-shirt but extended a firm handshake that meant serious business. We were impressed. He’s not intimidating but he commands respect. He was obviously charming, but he exuded an authenticity that wasn’t about selling a public image, but rather speaking the truth truth.
We don’t remember how he introduced himself; probably the usual “Pleased to meet you” or “Thank you for having me on your show”, but the Jozistyle team was blown away by the power of his voice. It was smooth as silk, clear as glass, strong like steel and as authoritive as a megaphone. Yes, that’s a lot of hyperbole just to describe one man’s voice, but when you hear him speak, you will know it is the truth.
Ironically, he’s actually gently spoken and refreshingly unpretentious. He sound likes every man in business should sound. We joked that he sounded more like a bloke in a pub one would share a pint with, rather than the image we had of a marbled-mouth, privately educated, elocution specialist. He laughed, saying that he was just a normal guy from a normal background, with no airs or graces about him, except that he believed in being true to yourself and maximising your fullest potential possible. He’s neither pretentious nor self-congratulatory, he’s modest and prefers to inspire others rather than boast about his own success. Talk about a man who owns his industry.
The insanely irritating aspect about his book Own Your Industry: How to Position Yourself as an Expert is that anyone could have written it, not just Douglas Kruger himself, but you or me- except we didn’t!
Perhaps, that’s because we don’t ‘own our industry. His advice is so effortless that it is almost intuitive, even primal, so that everyone understands exactly what he’s talking about, but no one even bothers to apply it. We’re talking about knowing what we’re talking about, conducting ourselves professionally, updating our skills in an ever demanding world, remembering professional courtesies and achieving our fullest potential. The underlying motivation is that while money is the reward, the ultimate goal is gaining respect of your peers. You don’t have superiors when you’re in Douglas’ position, you have devotees!
When JoziStyle says that we read the book back to front, we mean it literally. We expected an autobiographical yawn fest of ‘How great am I?’ epiphanies, so we started reading the “bonus” section about fifteen ways to win a contest- because it piqued our curiosity first. His book isn’t restricted to a linear format because each of the fifty sections are self-contained lifestyle scripts than can be applied to specific business situations, although we hasten to add that any Jozi housewife should read it herself before going to a PTA meeting, and make it compulsory reading for her kids before they matriculate. Douglas Kruger’s writing style is simple, practical and accessible to anyone; albeit with a quirky twist of tongue that adds some literary zest.
While it is an essential book for any busy business professional, we seriously recommend it as compulsory reading for any scholar, student and housewife who needs to know how the world works, and how to get the respect they deserve. The second time that the JoziStyle team read Own Your Industry: How to Position Yourself as an Expert (yes, we all did!), we were armed with pens, pencils, highlighters and Post-Its, because we wanted to commit his every word into our collective consciousness.
JoziStyle thinks that Douglas Kruger’s Own Your Industry: How to Position Yourself as an Expert is a salacious read for any business professional because it gives you the same leading edge that defined Steve Jobs, Richard Branson and James Brown, all rolled into one!
Edward Chamberlain-Bell conducted a secondary interview with Douglas Kruger after readinmg the book twice in the same week.
Edward: Your book sold out within the first two months on sale. Did you use the principles within the book to accomplish that?
Douglas: Absolutely. A number of them, in fact. One of my core principles is that when you are a ‘constant producer,’ you create tribes of believing followers. The more constantly you produce, the more they will seek out and demand anything and everything that you have to offer.
Another principle is strong brand-creation in the media. The more often you are seen, the more iconic you become, and an iconic status will always sell more books than the book itself. That may sound perverse, but there’s a profound example of this dynamic from the life-story of Stephen King.
King’s first novel, contrary to popular belief, was not Carrie. It was a story called ‘The Long Walk,’ published under the pseudonym ‘Richard Bachman.’
The novel sold 25 000 copies, which is not a lot by US standards. Then, after Bachman died of what King called ‘Cancer of the Pseudonym,’ they re-released the book under Stephen King’s name. That version sold 250 000 copies, in less time.
Same author, same book. Different name on the cover. Ten times the sales, ten times the money. That’s the power of an iconic status. That’s the power of expert positioning.
Edward: You talk the talk, but you’ve never been the CEO of a multinational company. How are you qualified to write a book on positioning yourself as an expert?
Douglas: This goes back to the genesis of the book, which I can trace back to a single afternoon.
I was in my office at home when the phone rang twice in quick succession. In each case, the caller used a phrase that entrepreneurs love to hear: ‘Someone told us that you’re the person to talk to.’
At the time, this was in reference to presentation skills training, and looking at it retrospectively, it was because of 5 wins at the SA Public Speaking Championships, a book on public speaking, and a slew of media articles in which I freely shared ideas. This represented a strong mix of expert-positioning principles, even though I wasn’t really aware that that was what I was doing at the time.
The phone calls made me stop and ask, ‘How did that happen? And how do I make it happen again on purpose?’ I began to study the principles that cause an icon’s market to come to him or her. I came up with no less than ‘50 ways,’ which became the framework for the book.
Edward: ‘Own Your Industry’ appealled to my sense of humour, I found it surprisingly humourous & metaphorical for a professional publication. Was that intentional or just your personality coming through the facts?
Yes, it was probably my own personality coming though. I use Jeremy Clarkson as an example of a ‘high-impact’ communicator, and I strive to communicate in memorable ways myself.
Clarkson is at the helm of an industry juggernaut, in Top Gear. It is a runaway success story almost unparalleled in the history of television, and the interesting thing is that Clarkson has the same raw material with which to work as all of his competitors, namely, the new cars that come out every week.
So why is he worth millions, when millions of motoring journalists are not? High-impact communication; using stories, metaphors and humour; is the answer.
I like to express it this way: Having the knowledge is only half the job. Making it come alive is the balance. Experts are always high-impact communicators.
Edward: Call it the “tall poppy syndrome”, but prominence attracts criticism. I like controversy, but is it safe for people / brands to expose themselves to public criticism?
Let’s use Clarkson again. Half the world’s population think he’s a demi-god. The other half want to burn him at the stake. Clarkson couldn’t care less. He knows who his tribes are, and he chooses to lead them, not to please everyone else.
I believe that real industry icons will attract hatred, to the extent that if your YouTube videos don’t have a few ‘dislikes,’ you’re probably doing something wrong. Strong viewpoints elicit strong reactions, but strong personalities have the fortitude to withstand it and carry on.
Edward: I love your philosophy that personality, rather than conformity, creates true industry icons?
Douglas: Stand out by design. Bring your own unique personality to the mix, even if you aren’t as brash as a Clarkson, a Gordon Ramsay or a Donald Trump.
Expert Positioning says, ‘Be a face and a voice,’ and also, be an authentic face and voice. There are many high-level industry icons who have very gentle, very sedate natures. But they present them to the public nevertheless. Public appearance and profile building is the key here. Be a face and a voice in the public consciousness; not just a name on a piece of paper.
Edward: Which reminds me of my pet hate: People who call themselves “thought leaders”! I understand that people want to remain relevant; so what do you suggest that people do to remain relevant?
I believe that true experts are constant producers. They don’t stop at the first article, the first book, the first TV show. They are constantly producing ‘the next thing,’ and putting content out into the universe.
The sheer weight of production keeps their names front-of-mind, and the continuity of output keeps them relevant. There is no room for resting on one’s laurels in the world of expert-positioning. Keep your mental factory lights blazing.
Edward: I notice that there is no stopping you- you’re everywhere! So what will your next book be about?
I’m currently in talks with Penguin Books about a title on Innovation for brands. I love creative thinking and I love the language of brands.
‘Brand effectiveness’ is at the heart of ‘Own Your Industry,’ and the next title will look at how to keep on innovating within a brand. I’m playing with the title ‘Relentlessly Relevant – How to Innovate.’
Edward: You speak on the topic of Innovation as well?
I do. I present keynotes and workshops for corporate groups. Most of my presentations these days are aimed at high-level audiences. When I started out, my primary market was general staff and motivational talks, but these days I tend to do more business strategy for CEOs, leaders and managers.
Edward: Was speaking at the 2014 International Toastmasters convention fun or frustration for you?
I was asked to be one of the guest speakers for this year’s international Toastmasters convention, in Kuala Lumpur. I presented the topic, ‘Own Your Industry – How to Position Yourself as an Expert.’ There were over 4,000 people attending this year’s convention. I thought it was fun.
Edward: You write about creating ‘tribes of believing followers.’ How can new tribe-members begin following you?
My website is www.douglaskruger.com. I regularly upload free articles and video clips there, in the quest to consistently provide value. My twitter handle is @douglaskruger.
I also have an additional website where people can assess their level between ‘Amateur and Expert.’ It even makes suggestions for what they should be thinking about next. That’s www.OwnYourIndustry.net.
Finally, I send out a free motivational newsletter every Monday morning. There’s a sign-up form at http://www.douglaskruger.co.za/.