Am I An Expert Or Idiot? Both!

 Everybody is an expert at something, yet no matter how big of an expert they are, there is always somebody else who can make them look like a relative novice.

            I was reminded of that fact this past weekend, when my family went on our annual long-weekend vacation with another family in our neighborhood.

            When I hang out with that family, I appear to be a rugged outdoorsman. The father in that family, my friend Jeff, doesn’t have much interest in fishing, for instance. So, when we went fishing with the kids from the two families, I baited hooks, untangled messes, helped make decisions on tackle, tried to direct our boat to where the fish may be and generally took control of our fishing adventure. Those kids probably think I’ve got a coon-skinned cap somewhere in my truck.

            One week earlier, however, my son and I went fishing with my wife’s brother, Dale. Compared to Dale, I’m a complete novice – his approach to fishing includes giving careful thought to weather conditions, presentation, colors and various other factors. Using a depth finder and some fishing moxie, he likes to try to get to know more about the lake bottom than anybody on the lake.

            So, am I qualified to be a fishing guide, like the neighborhood family may think, or a complete hack who merely guesses and occasionally gets lucky, like brother-in-law Dale thinks? It depending on your perspective.

            So it goes in the world of powersports. When it comes to snowmobiles built in the last 17 years, for instance, I’m a bit of an expert. Name an important trail sled build since model year 1994, and I have ridden it and formed opinions on it. I’ve also ridden snowmobiles in 17 states and five Canadian provinces, and have been to pretty much ever type of snowmobile racing imaginable and have written stories about those experiences. I’m certainly not bragging, but in some circles, that makes me a snowmobiling expert.  

            Take me through the pits at a race track or into the dyno room at a top performance shop and get me into a conversation with a master tuner, however, and I probably come across as more of a novice. No, I can’t tell you the best clutching setup to try on a 250 horsepower modified drag racing sled, not would I be much help in finding the right traction setup for an iced oval — that’s not my area of expertise.

            One key, of course, is to surround yourself with people with varying levels of expertise on a variety of things. Here at the magazine, that means guys like Andy Swanson, our managing editor and chief aftermarket product tester; Phil Mickelson, our famed Tech Professor, and key contributors like Jeff Oberg, Tim Erickson, Lynn Keillor, David Wells and many others. Another key is never being afraid to ask people who do have more expertise in a specific area for their help. It’s amazing what people will share with you if you just frame the question correctly.

          Only by pulling that all together a great team, and not being afraid to seek help from other “experts,” can we put out a magazine like Snow Goer. Because nobody’s an expert at everything, even in a relatively narrow market like snowmobiling.

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