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I was on the witness stand being questioned by a $260,000 per year attorney! “Mr. Koop, how much do you think your time is worth?”  Now this was back in 1998 and at the time I happened to know this particular attorney was billing his client $125 per hour.  I was an Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC contractor so I looked him in the eye and replied, “My time is worth $125 per hour. Do you think that is too much to charge for expertise?” I tried hard to keep a straight face as he hesitated…trying to regain his own composure. It was quite funny, but guess what? He didn’t try to contest my value because he was in agreement that expertise, at least his and mine at that time should easily be worth $125 per hour.

I like to put dollars on doctrine.  I like to know what people in my career and other careers actually make each year and I want to know how I can do it also.  $125 per hour is an annual salary of $260,000 and that of course was a fine salary for just about anyone in 1998 or today in 2016! To earn much more than that, you may have to be lucky, creative, ambitious, or all three!  So what is YOUR expertise worth?  What is it worth in actual dollars and how about quality of life?  It’s great to be paid a nice salary, but how about loving your job.  WOW!  What would that be like?

You CAN find your expertise and how it relates to YOUR opportunity.  Expertise comes from experience.  You have to work in or on something long enough to learn more than the average person.  A man I greatly admire once said to me, “Rodney, there is something to be said about apprenticeship, about paying your dues to your profession. Experience comes from time.”  For example: running a backhoe for a year will allow you to be an expert on running a backhoe.  But to be an excavation expert with a backhoe requires 10 or more years. Why? Because, you can’t possibly come across enough problems and situations in a short period of time that require you to dig down into your subconscious, and research and experiment to find solid solutions.

An Expert is a person who has solid solutions to tough problems…and that takes timeTo move from experience and knowledge to expertise takes passion; something that causes you to have to dig deep and learn about your subject.  As you study, learn, practice, and grow in your expertise, you will begin to find opportunities to solve problems for people with your understanding of subject.

Opportunity brings reward. Reward may be in the form of a new job, a better salary, a chance to write a book or article or speak at a meeting.  Opportunity will continue only with persistence.  Persistence is when you keep pressing forward because no success comes overnight; no success comes without serious difficulties and struggles.  It is only in overcoming difficulties and struggles that we even begin to hone and fine tune our knowledge.

I recall a time when Warren Buffett was featured in Forbes Magazine.  Most of us know that Mr. Buffett is recognized as an expert in long-term investing.  If you looked at the full two-page pictorial, you would have seen that my friend Ramit Sethi was standing next to him.  Ramit and I studied together for 15 two-day sessions covering 15 months.  Ramit is now considered “the financial guru” for the young generation.  He is the “Warren Buffett” if you will, to the 40 and under crowd.

How did he become an Expert? He invested his college money and lost it in the stock market.  Working his way through college, he never forgot how he got snookered out of his education fund.  His constant research drove his dorm mates crazy.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  How many people could be featured as an Expert in Forbes Magazine standing alongside an icon like Warren Buffett? Well, if Ramit had not lost that money, he certainly would not have gotten that call from Forbes.

What are you passionate about and where are you in your expert journey?  It may not be in the career you have chosen, maybe you are developing knowledge, skill, and passion completely aside from your paying job.


  • Time builds Expertise
  • Difficulty directs the Expertise
  • Passion deepens the Expertise
  • Persistence solidifies the Expertise
  • Opportunity rewards the Expertise

Find your pockets of expertise and work on them.  Find something that drives you so crazy that you must find the answers, do not give up until you have found solutions.  If you keep searching for these solutions, then life will do the rest.  You are the Expert, embrace it.

Not sure where your expertise lies, then try this:


Determine YOUR Passion

  1. List the 10 things you love to do so much that you would do them even if you weren’t paid or paid enough to get by.
  2. Sort the list by highest desire to lowest desire.
  3. Now, have your family and close friends sort the list and/or add suggestions.
  4. Sort the list again so your #1 passion is on top. Don’t be afraid to put some work into this.

Determine YOUR Talent

  1. List the 10 things that you are best at (no matter if it is mechanical, clerical, domestic, traditional, or exotic). What are you really good at?
  2. Sort the list as before.
  3. You will need help from family and friends because you will overlook what is obvious to them.
  4. After their help and after seeing how they sort the list, you sort the list again so your #1 talent is on top.

You should now have a very good idea what your #1 passion is and what your #1 talent is.  Now measure what you think your level of expertise is in this newly discovered area.

Have opportunities presented themselves to you to help others with this expertise? How can you use this expertise to help others to the point where they are willing to reward you for it? Use this as a stepping stone to direct your life.  Now, how do you actually put this expertise to work for you in your daily life?

#1. Identify the problem

“Mr./Mrs. Customer, Boss, Employee, Prospect, or whoever,

The problem is this leakage in your air duct system caused by all of these cracks, seams, and even holes and connections.”

#2.  Explain why you are pointing this out

“Mr./Mrs. Customer, Boss, Employee, Prospect or whoever,

The reason this is a concern is that even the EPA after testing thousands of homes, both new and existing has determined that the average air duct system in America leaks 38%.” (Customer will respond with perhaps amazement, or even concern that their air ducts are certainly not above average).

#3.  Add another point of credibility

“Mr./Mrs. Customer, Boss, Employee, Prospect or whoever,

Did you know that a 1” hole in the air ducts is equal to a 30 square inch hole in the outside wall of your home because of the pressure on the air ducts?”

#4.  Now you predict the future – Provide a scenario if left unattended.

“Mr./Mrs. Customer, Boss, Employee, Prospect or whoever,

What will happen is that as air is pushed out in the attic it will force the home to suck air in from outside the home and that air will bring in contaminants, irritants, and pollutants as well as humidity.”

So what has just happened is that you have used your valuable expertise and knowledge and leveraged it with 3rd party credibility (by EPA in this example). What this has done is caused you to be perceived as the expert in your client’s eyes. 

The beginning of being compensated for your expertise is being perceived as or recognized as the Expert.  This will set you apart and virtually eliminate any competition for your efforts.  Remember, you are the Expert.

Find your passion and your talent and you will find your expertise! Correctly provide that expertise to your customer base and they will perceive you as the only Expert in that area.  Reward and opportunities will follow.

Rodney Koop / Founder/CEO – The New Flat Rate