And to this day I remember vividly a Saturday morning in a draughty village hall where I and 29 other chess playing geeks turned up and paid the grand total of £1 to play against a traveling ‘grand master.’
And the traveling grandmaster played us in turn – and I’ll never forget watching him move from board to board, spending no more than 60 seconds per board before making a move, clicking his chess clock, and then moving to the next board.
And he won every single game.
Every. Single. Freaking. Game.
At the time I was impressed by his results – but just put it down to the fact that he was a ‘grand master’ and therefore naturally more talented at chess than the rest of us.
But if you’ve read many of the posts at One Spoon – especially this one: Do You Believe In Natural Talent? – you’ll know that I’ve since changed my mind on the whole ‘natural talent’ myth.
That conversion came about due to a detailed study of Geoff Colvin’s wonderful book Talent Is Overrated.
Reading Talent Is Overrated gave me a crucial insight into why that long ago ‘traveling grandmaster’ was able to defeat so many wannabe chess players simultaneously.
And that insight is this: the grandmaster had a bigger Domain Map of the world of chess to draw from.
WTF Is A Domain Map?
A Domain Map is a phrase that Geoff Colvin used in Talent Is Overrated. And in the case of our chess grandmaster it describes the width and depth of knowledge that the grandmaster had in the world of chess.
His Domain Map would have included the study and memorization of thousands of different chess games down the years. And then when situations arise in real time scenarios where the combinations of pieces and positions reoccur the grandmaster can use that study of those games as a guide as to what move he should make.
(In case you think chess grandmasters have better memory than non-grandmasters, please read Colvin’s book in full for the studies that prove this is not the case!)
Or let’s take another example – also drawn from Colvin’s book. London’s Black Cab drivers have to take a test called the ‘knowledge’ before they qualify. This is memorization of many routes around London – along with what landmarks they pass on the way.
For qualified cabbies, their Domain Map is the streets of London. If they’re trying to get you from Hamleys to Harrods, not only do they know the quickest way to go, but they know alternative routes if Park Lane is gridlocked. Or if you want to go a scenic route and drive through Hyde Park – well, they can do that too.
Whatever field your online business is in, and whether you know it or not, you have a Domain Map of that field. And if you didn’t know what a Domain Map was – well now you do. And now that you know, let’s look at why working on your Domain Map is important.
Why Working On Your Domain Map Is Important?
If you’ve read about making your online business successful, you’ll undoubtedly have read that in order to help potential clients travel along the path to actually clicking a purchase button you need to get them to know, like and trust you.
And often that trust is tied up with something called the expertise factor.
Scratch the surface of anyone considered an expert in a particular topic and you’ll find someone with a large domain map of that topic.
And here’s the thing – you can acquire expertise in just about anything you can think of. In fact there’s a system for acquiring expertise that was uncovered and documented by a guy called Anders Ericsson – called Deliberate Practice – and Colvin does a great job of summarizing Deliberate Practice in Talent Is Overrated. And he shows you some ideas on how you can apply Deliberate Practice principles to business topics.
This is why building your Domain Map in a deliberate and systematic way is so important: it increases your expertise in a field; this increased expertise leads to potential clients who are more willing to trust you.
How To Build Your Domain Map
Imagine two concentric circles – one small and one large. The large circle is all the possible knowledge in your particular field.
The small circle is the stuff that you know.
To build your domain map what you have to do is make the small circle with the stuff you know in it expand outwards.
Here are some ways:
- (1) Read. Anything and everything related to your field. Books. Magazines. Blogs. Interviews. You should read every day – and read widely. Not just the people you like, but the people you don’t like too. And don’t be afraid to dip outside of your chosen area – occasionally you can model a system from outside of your field, adapt it for your field, and directly benefit from a boost to the perception of your expertise.
- (2) Listen. All of us have hundreds of hours a year of dead time in our lives. We’re driving. We’re walking. We’re exercising. We’re doing chores. That time can do double duty – make sure you have an iPod stuffed with podcasts and audio books. Maybe even Workshops (see next point) in MP3 format. If your car stereo doesn’t have an adapter for an MP3 player – then buy one of those radio gadgets that turn your MP3 player into a broadcasting unit and tune your car radio to it. Or burn stuff to CD. Seriously –we all have hundreds of hours of dead time that we could be using.
- (3) Learn. Always be learning. There are always new skills to master, new concepts that you can learn and apply to your own business. The two best ways (IMO) of learning are to either (i) take a course or (ii) find a great book, and work through it in minute detail and create your own workbook as if you’re teaching that book. The process of doing this will extend your Domain Map exponentially….(plus with a bit of tweaking you just created an info product).
- (4) Teach. Take a topic in your field and create a course on it – doesn’t matter if you actually sell that teaching (though it helps). The process of teaching something – when done right – gives you an understanding of a topic at a depth that few people in your field have.
- (5) Repeat. Every Day. The field of your business – whatever it is – is unlikely to be static. Your Domain Map shouldn’t be static either – you should aim to improve it EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if only by a tiny margin. I once heard Jazz bassist John Patitucci say in an interview: Every day I find a tiny hole in my technique and I spend an hour a day fixing those holes. Find the holes in your Domain Map and spend time fixing those holes. Few of your competitors will be doing this – the compound interest effects over time are substantial.
A Domain Map is a phrase author Geoff Colvin used to describe the depth and breadth of knowledge you have in your chosen field of business.
Those people who have intricate and highly detailed Domain Maps are ‘grandmasters’ in their field – and are considered experts.
Few people consciously work on improving their Domain Maps – over time deliberate and systematic improvements can be made to your Domain Map. Many of us have spaces of ‘dead time’ in our lives – kill that dead time and re-invest it into your business by growing your Domain map.
One day you could grow to be a grandmaster in your field.
Talent Is Overrated
One day I should do a proper review of this book. I read it every six months or so – and often dip into sections looking to reaffirm an idea or thought.
I don’t think all of you will like it – but I do think that all of you should read it.
Here’s a link to the physical copy on Amazon:
This book is also available on Kindle and Audio CD. (And it’s one of only two books I have in all three formats!) It’s that good.
Your turn – what do you think of the concept of having a Domain Map? Is this something you work on in your business – if yes, how do you do it? If not – why not!
Answers on a postcard please….or for more immediate replies answers in the comment section below.