You don’t know Lefsetz?
I was talking to someone dedicating his career to working in newspapers. I asked him what he thought of the work of Jeff Jarvis. He had no idea what I was talking about.
I met a musician the other day, and asked her how her work without a label was going, and referenced something by Bob Lefsetz. She didn't know who I meant.
The last time I was at an event for librarians, I mentioned Maria Popova. Blank stares.
A podcaster asked me a question, and I wondered if he admired the path Krista Tippett had taken. He had no clue.
A colleague was explaining his work in memetics to me. I asked about Dawkins and Blackmore. You guessed it…
Or Kenji on food, Cader on publishing, Underhill on retail, Lewis on direct mail copywriting and on and on…
We would never consent to surgery from a surgeon who hadn't been to medical school, and perhaps even more important, from someone who hadn't kept up on the latest medical journals and training. And yet there are people who take pride in doing their profession from a place of naivete, unaware or unlearned in the most important voices in their field.
The line between an amateur and professional keeps blurring, but for me, the posture of understanding both the pioneers and the state of the art is essential. An economist doesn't have to agree with Keynes, but she better know who he is.
If you don't know who the must-reads in your field are, find out before your customers and competitors do.
Too much doing, not enough knowing.