How is Newbie to Expert Different from Other Websites?


A lot of blood, sweat, and tears. But mostly tears…


In my quest to be better, faster, and hopefully smarter, I read many books, attended a lot of workshops and ecourses, and applied a lot of what was taught only to experience a mixture of joy, frustration, and exhaustion.


Some things worked. Some things didn’t. And some things just didn’t make any sense at that time.


The problem was I was getting a lot of conflicting information. All backed by science and experts, so I was thoroughly confused. How could people be right and opposite at the same time?


Only after significant review and reflection did I figure out the answer.


Confirmation bias.


The content creators were targeting a particular demographic. For example, some wrote from the standpoint of a Newbie. In contrast, others wrote from the view of an Expert. And others in between.


And here’s the epiphany, there are no actionable strategies and tactics that cover the entire Newbie to Expert spectrum. Each stage requires different tools, but everyone proposed a one size fits all solution.


Techniques that work great for Newbies are too basic for Experts who have more sophisticated needs. But, conversely, approaches that Experts favor often overwhelm Newbies. That’s because both knowledge and skill take time to develop.  We are not in the Matrix. You can’t simply download expertise and expect it to work. Our minds and bodies need time to adapt and make sense of it all.


To illustrate, I describe 4 levels of expertise (using gameplay as an analogy) and their associated development costs:

  • Newbie: you know as much about the topic or skill as a layperson (i.e., don’t know anything about a new game); time cost is 0 as this is where most of us start.
  • Competent: you know enough to do the basics and anything routine, but nothing too complicated; to reach this level, you may have done some reading, taken some introductory courses, or watched a few videos (i.e., you are learning the rules of the game); going from Newbie to Competent typically takes only hours to days for shallow coverage of most topics. If something highly technical or requiring more depth, the time scale is weeks to months.
  • Proficient: you can make a living with what you know (i.e., you know the rules enough to teach others how to play the game); assuming you are already competent, moving to the proficient rank takes months to a couple of years.
  • Expert: you are good enough that others in the field go to you for advice and help (i.e., you have a higher chance of winning compared to less skilled players); this one is a bit tricky since you can either go deep or go wide in a subject. If you go deep but focus on a narrow niche, probably months to a couple of years. If you’re seeking breadth, a few years, depending on how much you want to cover.

I list the above as stages for ease of explanation, but the reality is they are all on a continuum.


Though the above may seem daunting, there is good news when you look at the staging. And that is, you don’t have to be at the Expert level in everything to achieve your goal. In other words, “Don’t spend $20 on a $5 problem.”


A lot of dreams require picking up a collection of new knowledge and skills. For example, I had to figure out how to write blogs (which is different from the technical writing I was trained to do), run a WordPress website, manage email lists, understand the ins and outs of a solopreneur business, research cognitive psychology, etc.


And sure, being an Expert is great since it means you have what it takes to knock it out of the park but what’s ignored is the investment cost. Frankly, I don’t have the time or inclination to be an Expert in all of the above.


I just need to be good enough in some areas and an Expert in a select few to move ahead. For example, I can handle spreadsheets competently, but that doesn’t mean I should be at an accountant level proficiency to handle taxes. On the other hand, content generation is something I can’t delegate to others, so that’s something I need to build my expertise in.


And that’s what we try to do in Newbie to Expert. We try to identify what approaches accelerate you to the level of expertise you need to be at to push ahead:

  • Newbie to Competent: Go from crawling to walking. Can do that in hours to days.
  • Competent to Proficient: Advance from walking to running. Ideally, weeks to months.
  • Proficient to Expert: Learn how to run marathons. Months (hopefully) to years.

We find that this breakdown covers the transition states pretty well. So, rather than being great at everything, just pick the minimum level for what you need to move ahead on your goals. Time is limited, so don’t spend any more than you need to.


This way, you become an Expert in what matters and good enough in other areas to make progress.


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