Do Not Judge Yourself Against All The Other Industry Experts

When it comes to finding your signature talents, do not judge yourself against all the other industry experts. That bar is too high and not the intention of this concept.


Let me share a story. When I was working for a regional retail chain in Phoenix, my job included writing and producing the company’s radio and TV commercials. After two years, the senior managers asked if I could write and produce a corporate video to train our field team on a new product line. I said, “Absolutely!” and immediately went back into my office and started hyperventilating. I had no idea how to write and produce a corporate video. Luckily, I had producer friends who walked me through the steps. Within one year, our company’s suppliers started hiring me to write and produce their corporate videos.


I continued producing corporate videos for two more years and was offered a job at a global high-tech company as a worldwide communications manager. Even though I had no experience in high tech, in fact, at that time I barely knew how to program my cell phone, I decided to make the transition from retail to high tech. I went from being a confident, successful marketing professional in the retail industry, to being a tiny, little fish in a humongous ocean of about 90,000 engineering, high-tech fanatics. It was intimidating, to say the least.


I wanted to build my credibility, visibility, and personal brand with my network of peers and senior managers. But how could I do it? I decided to anchor on one of my signature talents – being a corporate video expert.


My producer and director friends would laugh me under the table to hear I was positioning myself as a “video expert”. Of course, it’s only in my mind that I used this term. I never said it out loud, especially since the company had its own corporate video department full of highly qualified producers and directors. But, I knew my videos were pretty good and I could share this knowledge and teach other department managers to create their own internal videos – which is exactly what I did. By bringing attention to one of my signature talents, I became the “go to” person for producing internal videos. I quickly provided value to an extended network of department managers, thus raising my credibility and personal brand within the company.

Are You Good Enough to be an Expert?

I was giving a career advancement seminar in Chicago when a participant raised her hand and said she couldn’t do the exercise (identifying your signature talents) because she didn’t have any signature talents. This shocked me because I had co-presented with her a couple of years earlier and was amazed by her knowledge on the topic, which was event planning. I responded by telling her that from my opinion, clearly, she was an expert in event planning. But her response was that she really didn’t view herself as an expert in that area.


If you are also having difficulty identifying your signature talents and you have more than five years of professional work experience, I have two thoughts for you. First, many times during our career we find ourselves in a negative environment such as having conflict with a manager, colleague, or client. And if you’re in a negative environment right now, you may be hearing some inner voice tell you that you are not good enough to be an expert in anything. If that’s the case, then quiet down that voice. I’m here to tell you – you DO have expertise that benefits your employer and clients – or else they wouldn’t have hired you!

Leveraging your Signature Talents

Identifying your signature talents is crucial for two reasons. First, these talents help define who you are professionally, boost your credibility, confidence, and uniqueness. They are the value you provide to your company or client. Second, if you identify your signature talents you can leverage them when you want to transition into a new role, company or industry.


Signature talents are more than specialized skills. They are advanced skills that, when combined with your experiences, knowledge and talents, are as unique and distinctive as your own signature.


For example, after spending a few years out in the field, many sales people develop their own unique style of selling. It’s a style that is difficult to teach to others. They may use common selling strategies and tactics, but combined with their personality, experiences, and knowledge they have created their own unique signature talent of selling.


Another example is that when I graduated college, I love writing and knew I either wanted to be a television news writer or write radio and TV commercials. After several years in radio, television, and advertising, I honed my writing skills and developed my own writing style. Writing is one of my signature talents. My employers can always hire someone else, but that person wouldn’t have my same signature style.


So, what are your signature talents? In which skills or areas of expertise do you stand out from your colleagues or peers?