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Is Knowledge Power? Not Compared to This…

March 19th, 2010 by shawn · No Comments

The well-known phrase, “knowledge is power” is taken as gospel truth. People say it as if somehow having knowledge places lightening bolts in your hands and you have “power”. Power to do what, exactly? No one usually asks that. And what sort of knowledge is required, anyway?

These would be good questions to answer.

I think that, in general, knowledge – that is, specialized knowledge about specific subjects – can give a person a certain measure of “power”, by which I mean they can sound smarter than the next guy. And it might give them an edge in some situations.

But if I was hiring someone to be my employee, I’d rather them have ability than knowledge.

Is knowledge power? Certainly. Is ability power? Definitely.

The wonderful book Rework mentions this. The authors talk about the accepted and traditional ways of running a business, and they contrast it with how they do it. And these guys are no lightweights – they run 37signals.

They say that when hiring, you should consider what a person can do as being of much more importance than where they got their diploma – if they got one at all. In fact, what the authors of Rework talk about in their book just verifies what I’ve seen for years working in various ecommerce businesses and websites: the best people are usually self-taught hackers.

The university-educated prospects? Sometimes not actually qualified to do the job.

Who do I want to work for me? The guy who knows what he’s doing. Period. I don’t care if he went to an Ivy League school, a community college, or if he even went to college at all – if he has the ability.

This concept also has application in the internet marketing world. I would guess that most self-titled affiliate marketers do little more than absorb knowledge, but actually “do” very little. The forums and members-only sites are full of “tactic-junkies” who are always trying to learn the latest ways to make money online. But I’ll tell you what: practice and just TRYING affiliate marketing on your own will be far better.

Sure, reading a couple of books and hanging out on some forums is O.K. for a total beginner – for a short time. But when you know the basics, you can’t keep hanging around the baby pool. There’s a time to get into the deeper waters and splash around. It’s the only way to really “get it”.

So is knowledge power? In a sense, it is. But only when it’s practical knowledge that’s made the transition to ability.

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