[PODCAST] EP022 – Shelley Rostlund

Subject Matter Experts Need to Mull and Digest

Jun 23, 2023 | Brand

Subject Matter Experts – creatures of ‘thinking’ habits

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 regroup on where I am on shining a light on the ‘subject matter expert’ term and finding out what others think when they hear that phrase.

I feel like the digital world has opened us up as professionals to connecting on a wider stage with our colleagues and ideal clients, but it has also provided a no-holds-barred access for anyone to declare themselves as an expert.

This hurts us as true subject matter experts, because guiding and advising someone on a subject is a privilege, not a right. And, what you say to people matters – it could change their lives. For better or for worse.

A good subject matter expert, in my opinion, is invested in not only giving the right advice and guidance, at the right time, but is seeking to improve and enhance the condition of the person they are working with.

I’m hoping through this open discussion we nail down how we can communicate and market ourselves as subject matter experts, that helps our ideal client audiences to distinguish us from the noise makers and attention seekers.

I guess we’re Indiana Jones if you will…setting out on an adventure to explore the truth and what that looks like.



In this episode I walk through:

  • How my own team colleagues responded when I asked them what they thought of this phrase (we are narrowing our focus on working with subject matter experts – so I thought it would be cool to work on this together).
  • What my show listeners (YOU) have to say on this topic. I asked you, as my valued listener, to listen to Episode 17 (where I launched into the first open discussion on this personal manifesto journey) and then give me direct feedback. I share what they have said.
  • I took the topic to a Table Talk for a conference I was attending. Ideally these were completely new people to me. I wanted to know what they thought.
  • I decided to also take the topic to a local networking group I go to every month in Northampton. The room was full of subject matter experts (as I see them…but they might not identify themselves as that) and I wanted to see what they had to say about it. What a conversation!


What I’ve learnt so far

My lessons so far from all these great conversations with different groups of people are that:

  • I’m really getting how thinking, mulling over and digesting ideas, concepts and connections are quite central to the operating system of a subject matter expert. (Which I think I am).
  • My gut instinct about the importance of how you hold, store and share knowledge seems to be similar if not the same as you, my listener community.
  • ‘Proficiency’ is more of an issue to demonstrate in professions that don’t have a visible ‘making’ skill behind them.
  • We are human too. If we want to be outstanding subject matter experts – it is possible to recognise something that might not be great to carry on doing, remedy the situation and work to be better in future.
  • Everyone pretty much agrees that, to be a true subject matter expert – others point to you as being a specialist or expert. You need to have gained 3rd party recognition to hold sustainable credibility.


I feel like I’m Indiana Jones on an adventure to explore the truth and what that looks like. Join me? Come on – travelling is more fun together. Here’s how you can join me:


  1. Go listen to episode 17 now -> here are some quick links: Shownotes; Apple, Spotify, Amazon, Audio transcribed notes, YouTube Video
  1. Get in touch with me after you have listened and let me know what you think. My email is shelley@shelleyrostlund.com, or connect with me on LinkedIn. You can send me an audio note if that’s easier as well.

What’s next in my manifesto journey?

The word ‘Manifesto’ is used quite a lot with politicians, right? But a personal manifesto is a little different (I feel).

My definition would be that it’s about me putting a stake in the ground, to publicly share what I believe to be true and hope others resonate with it, so we can all hang our hats on it. It’s a statement of values, attributes and behaviours which I hold dear and feel are important to qualify and quantify professional integrity.

It may feel a little muddy right now as to what to do with this, after I have it all down. But it feels right to be having this conversation now, in this time and with you.

After some reflection…which, I suspect, is another subject matter attribute…

I feel like my next avenue is to delve into a few nuances that have also been tickling my brain about the progression path of a subject matter expert – where they start and where they end up.

Also, I’m curious about the humans themselves – are there common traits, characteristics or habits which can help us to get comfortable in associating ourselves with this term and feel like we are really IT.

Almost like if you knew these things – you would be able to spot a subject matter expert in the wild because you know what you’re looking for?

Stayed tuned folks.


Ways to watch, listen or digest this episode:

Full transcription: Click here for the audio with follow-along transcription.

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