Cement Patch, Glitter Glue, and Spreading your Specialty

“Intelligence is the combination of knowing a lot about a little while you also know a little about a lot.”

Seth Godin

Last week I told you about why my wife only lets me drink out of sippy cups. This week I want to tell you about patching cement.

Patching cement blows. Cement patch is basically gray silicone gel with sand and pebbles in it. In craft terms, it’s silver glitter glue.

Cement Patch is Glitter Glue

After a rather horrific trip to a hardware store that shall not be named, I found myself staring at these cracks in our sidewalk feeling enthusiastic about doing something handy, if only because I’m a dude who knows more about glitter glue than cement patch.

I opened the tube of cement patch and loaded the caulk gun. *click* *click* *click* – the arm of the caulk gun ratcheted into place, another squeeze and the patch would flow from the tube. I squeezed the handle. *snap*

I turned the caulk gun over. Nothing makes a *snap* sound on a caulk gun that I know of (and contrary to what you’re thinking, I had used one before). I reset it and tried again and again – no patch, handle jammed. I pulled the cement patch from the caulk gun and realized I’d bent the whole fucking caulk gun by about 15 degrees just by squeezing the handle. I’d show you a picture except I threw it away. That *snap* I’d heard was the plastic cap in the bottom of the cement patch tube cracking open.

I Started All...

Not to be thwarted, I jammed a screwdriver into the bottom of the tube and started pulling out the cement patch by hand. I’d come too far, dammit, to be stopped by a broken caulk gun.

That’s right – I was fingerpainting with cement patch. And let me tell you – our sidewalk is now the nicest fucking sidewalk in the neighborhood. They’re glorious and awesome, and I never, ever want to talk about them again.

Now, I tell you this because you probably picture me as a smart, iPad-wielding, Klingon-speaking geek who got straight A’s in high school – and you’d be right. But that day, I felt like an idiot. I looked like an idiot. I mean, who applies cement patch with their fingers, honestly?

Mental patients, that’s who.

I realized that my struggle is identical to the one my clients face – we’re just using (or misusing) different tools. Where I am apprehensive about household handyman-style tasks, my clients are apprehensive about technology, or marketing, or social media.

The Specialist

We can all benefit from the services of a specialist.

Last week, I informed one of my instructional clients (a civil engineering firm) that their attempt to build and manage a website in-house would be akin to me programming the stoplights in an intersection (or, in this case – trying to patch my own sidewalks). You can do it, but it takes a bit of study – and to do it properly, is probably more work than it’s worth as opposed to hiring a specialist to help you.

You don’t pay your  friend to operate on you after reading WebMD, right? So – why would you operate on your website after reading an HTML book?

The world needs specialists with specialties. Mine are cross-disciplinary (like most professional specialists) – marketing, technology, community. Yours are probably similarly grouped, but when we try to group too many things  – or too many disparate things, your head tends to explode (and so does your talent).

What’s needed, in this case, is bridging. You need a librarian, someone who can curate collections of sources, not just point you to one website, but tens or hundreds on your topic. You need them to narrow your search and build bridges of support between ideas, frameworks, and experiences.

It’s one of the reasons why I love (and frequently speak at) Ignite Fort Collins. Tickets are on sale right now – there’s less than 40 left. If you live in or near Fort Collins, there is absolutely no reason to miss this event – first, you get to see me speak. Second, you get to hear a huge number of disparate ideas in 5 minute chunks – curated for maximum impact.

Build your bridges. Expand your specialty. Avoid looking like a psychopath finger-painting with cement on the sidewalk.