My barber, the expert
By Daniel Schiavone on September 18, 2018
At a recent trip to my barber, as I sat down in a marvelous refurbished vintage barber chair, I decided to switch up my response to, “What will it be today?” Instead, I asked his expert opinion and responded, “My hair is thinning a bit on top, can you make a recommendation?” He promptly denied my request with a self deprecating remark about his own coiff. I gave my usual parameters and we decided on a cut he called a long ivy league.
I believe that someone who gives over a dozen haircuts a day would have great insights into how to shape hair to compliment my appearance. After all they see all kinds of people and cut all kinds of hair. My barber enjoys what he does, and he’s really good at it. So you wouldn't think it a stretch to think that while he’s cutting hair he may be thinking, “this took an odd turn” or “this makes the best out of his oblong head”.
When Twitter and Facebook first appeared, I heard it said that Facebook was for people you used to know, and Twitter is for who you want to know. There’s still a lot of truth in the distinction. But as we’ve seen, the ripples of social media have had other effects, changing how we perceive the world, including expertise. There's an idea out in the world that through the act of posting we become an expert. Tim Ferriss’ "The 4-Hour Workweek" has become reality. We've all become experts. Google has made experts of us all, yet no one believes in expertise anymore. The value of degrees and experience erodes when you can watch a YouTube video and “voila”, you're an expert. Don't get me wrong. I'm all for DIY, but I need experts. We all do.
As an agency our business sells expertise. And while we all carry the Internet in our pockets, we still need expertise to make the web more functional and easier to use. Like the barber we’re guided by each individual client. Every client is different. There’s nothing cookie cutter about what we do. Through discovery we delve into the client’s operations, how they see themselves, and how they want the world to view them. As this collaboration comes to fruition the client ends up feeling great about themselves and engages their audience. Web development is a collaborative effort filled with a shared vision and synchronized efforts.
Maybe someday I’ll be able to sit in a barber chair, Steve my barber will know immediately what needs to be done, and I’ll leave looking like Brad Pitt. But for now even a haircut needs to be a collaboration between the barber (the expert) and myself (the client). Sure, I could try to cut my own hair but the results wouldn’t be as good. I need experts. We all do.