The efforts behind being the top expert. What does it take to break into new ground within your field? That takes you beyond the expert level and walk where no one have walked before. We have now reached part 3 and (perhaps) the last part of this blog series. As promised it is a bit shorter than the previous posts.
In 1936, a man named Dr. Raskin, presented a very interesting study in The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology. In this study, he had looked at the 120 most important scientists and 123 of the most important poets and authors of the 18th-century. In his study, he found that the poets and authors published their first works at the age of 24,2 and the scientists at the age of 25,2. When he then looked at what was seen as their best work, the age was 34,3 and 35,4 years. Almost exactly 10 years between their first and best work.
They produced their best work after they had been practicing their profession and craft for more than 10 years. Hand in hand with the study that Ericsson and his colleagues did, where they show that to reach expert level, as a musician for example, you need 10 000 hours and around 10 years of deliberate practice. Then you can see yourself as an expert in what you do. But, how do you go beyond expert level?
To the infinity and beyond
So, what is expert level by definition? Well, that is when you, as a photographer for example, masters all available knowledge that is about your craft and that your craftmanship is at the highest level of the industry standard. To go beyond that you need to travel to unknown land and really extend your efforts behind being the top expert!
So, what do you need to pull that off? To succeed with that you need to have mastered what has been. Because without having all the knowledge of what has been and what is going on now, it is extremely hard to see what is missing, is needed or can be changed.
Anna Wintour – the woman who changed the world of fashion
The icon Anna Wintour, Creative Director at Condé Nast and editor-in-chief at American Vogue, is a very good example of the above mentioned. Anna Wintour broke new ground within her field and set a new standard for a whole industry. To understand how she saw these possibilities and insights we need to look at what her career looked like until the end of 1980’s, when she made history with her first cover as editor-in-chief for the magazine.
Anna Wintour was born 1949 in England, with a father who was editor at the paper Evening Standard. Already at the age of 14 she developed an interest for fashion through watching the program Ready Steady Go! And reading the magazine, Seventeen, that her grandmother sent from the states.
- 1964 she got her first job at the trendy Biba Boutique.
- 1965 started a trainee program at Harrods.
- 1970 she got a job as an editorial assistant at Harper’s & Queen and started her career in fashion journalism.
- 1975 she became fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar in New York.
- 1980 editor at Savvy Magazine.
- 1983 became Vogues first Creative Director.
- 1985 back to England and editor at Vogue UK.
- 1988 editor-in-chief at American Vogue
In an interview in 1985 she said: “There’s a new kind of woman out there, she’s interested in business and money. She doesn’t have time to shop anymore. She wants to know what and why and where and how”. This was just a hint of what to come.
When Anna entered the role as editor-in-chief at American Vogue in 1988 she put her plan at work. She broke new ground and set a new standard, not just for fashion magazines but for the fashion world as a whole. “In short” she changed (one of many things) the look of the covers – who had looked the same way in decades. She showed more of the body, instead of just a face and the images was often shot outside, on location, than in a studio. She used less knows models and mixed cheap clothes with expensive Haute Couture pieces (how about a pair of jeans for 50 dollars and a jacket for 10 000 dollars).
What she really did was to show that fashion is something for everyone and not only for, the often, idolized supermodels. With that cover she took the fashion work with storm and closer to the everyday and modern woman. Something we today see as obvious. Probably much tanks to Anna Wintour.
“Wintour’s approach hit a nerve—this was the way real women put clothes together (with the likely exception of wearing multi-thousand-dollar T-shirts)”
With expertise as a guiding star
When Anna took the job as editor-in-chief at American Vogue, she had over 20 years of experience in fashion and making magazines. Something that had given her deep knowledge and insights of her target group. Also, take in consideration that she grew up with a father who worked in the magazine business as well. This gave her probably knowledge of the industry before starting her job as an editorial assistant. Her dad often consulted her about how his magazine could reach a younger target group.
Had Anna, as a new on the job as an editorial assistant, could have changed a whole industry like she did 18 years later? Probably not. To be able to break into new ground like that and do something unique, you need an enormous amount of knowledge and experience in your craft.
This ends this blog post series of the efforts behind being the top expert. Thank you for reading!