[PODCAST] EP017 – Shelley Rostlund

A Subject Matter Expert Manifesto

Apr 14, 2023 | Brand

What is a Subject Matter Expert? Are you one?

I know your time is valuable. These show notes give you the gist of the episode, what is covered, any links or resources talked about in the show, and also gives you a few ways to listen, watch or digest this episode.

This episode’s topic, in a nutshell…

I shine a light on the term: subject matter expert. Its occurred to me that this is a bit of a mystery term for people. Heck, I’m not even sure I really like the term.

I feel the challenge is that without fully understanding who you are in the eyes of your ideal customer or client – could mean that you’re miscalculating your worth and value. If you don’t identify yourself as a subject matter expert and don’t necessarily see how powerful you are for the people you serve – then we need to dig into this term and get you more comfortable with it.



In this episode I walk through:

  • A definition of what a subject matter expert is, and I add some meat on the bones of what you would find on Google.
  • My concept of a proficiency ratio – this is the difference that will MAKE the difference (in helping you to stand out from your competition). See diagram below to help with this.
  • An example of what a subject matter expert COULD look like (which will help you to ‘see’ whether you are one).
  • The 3 Knowledge Responsibility Areas I feel are important as guardrails for subject matter experts (in how they conduct themselves in relation to their knowledge):
  • The extra 4 focusses I feel that every subject matter expert needs to hold dear, when sharing their knowledge:
    • Pay attention to context. Take care to work out where in their journey the person is, who is in front of you asking for help. How you advise them may be dependant on this.
    • Be aware of timing. On top of context, there may be a specific sequence to how to advise someone and your bit in the process may only come later – be authentic about explaining where you come in.
    • Degree of sharing. You need to pace the degree of information the person in from of you needs right now, then move them forwards from there. Be kind to their brains and want the best for them.
    • Rational vs Emotional advice. This just means being mindful of knee-jerk reactions to things. Try to aim for a more measured response, to give the best advice or guidance.

I would really love to get your input on what I’ve shared in this episode. It may be the start of a manifesto, that I don’t feel is OUT there really. It may just be what we need to reduce the amount of badly delivered trend-based advice that is out there in the ether.


Shelley’s  Proficiency Ratio – an explanation 

Subject Matter Expert Proficiency Ratio


In this episode I talk about what I call: your proficiency ratio. This is the seemingly intangible benefit of you and your approach to things.

It is really the basis for your marketable value to the outside world. In episode #2 with Alison O’Leary we talked a bit about identifying your strengths – which gives you an indicator of what your marketable value is.

However, in this episode – I physically show you that you need to look at your skills and talents in two curves:

  1. Aptitude (in essence your technical skills to get the “job” done), and
  2. Proficiency (the layers that lie on top of your technical skills and demonstrate your contribution to solving the problem)

Its the proficiency ratio which will give you an indicator of what kind of real contribution you are brining to the table when people choose you to work with. THIS is what you should be basing your pricing and brand positioning on (and not: time for money).

Who do you know that would gain from listening into this topic? Maybe you have a friend in business or a colleague who you’d like to flesh this out with more. Share the episode – I’ll get them up to speed, and ready to work with you.

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