Guess What… I’m going to do a reprint today! I wrote this article last year, 2017, because Christmas fell on Subject Matter Expert Day. Well, after re-read… I wanted to share it again, it helps us understand the importance of Subject Matter Expert Status.
Merry Christmas! Since Christmas is on a Monday, and Monday is our Subject Matter Expert Day, I thought, who better to explore, as a Subject Matter Expert, than Santa??!! Now, before I get started… I have insight on this topic.
Back in the day, on my winter breaks from college, I was a Santa’s Helper … he’s a nice guy… always happy or “Jolly”. Seeing as how Santa has been up all night delivering presents, I’m not going to call him for an interview. Instead, I’m going to rely on my observations for his Subject Matter Expert status.
You might say, “OF COURSE SANTA IS A SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT”… but is he? He is a nice guy, heck, I ran into him at the bar on Saturday night. BUT, does he have strong Subject Matter Expert skills?
Let’s find out.
A Subject Matter Expert shows strength and leadership in the following six areas: Influencer, Network, Ambassador, Honors, Study, and Credentials. To be a Subject Matter Expert just remember the acronym INAHSC or everything you learned about being a Subject Matter Expert you learned by being “In A HS Clique (INAHSC)”
So how does Santa measure up on our INAHSC scale?
Before we start… we must know what we are measuring. Otherwise the obvious, “OF COURSE Santa is a Subject Matter Expert” is blurted out. But really what is Santa’s mission statement? I looked on Wikipedia and their opening line goes something like, “Santa is a legendary figure that is said to bring toys to good/nice children on Christmas Eve.”
Sounds good to me…
Let’s test it.
Influencer: Go up to any child and ask, “who makes THE naughty and nice list?” Santa has a very strong mission statement and clearly, getting anyone, let alone a child, to modify their behavior without actually being in the room… dang, that’s an influencer!
Network : Santa’s social network of parents, not to mention grandparents, aunts/uncles, teachers, older siblings, is amazing, and the guy did this all prior to Facebook! I think that’s something every small business can learn from. I mean if Santa can create a world-wide following from his North Pole manufacturing facility without the use of social media, you can certainly create a strong network with all of the modern day tools at your disposal!
Ambassador: This one I have a little more trouble with because, is Santa an ambassador of the toy industry? When I think toy industry, I think of Hasbro, FAO Schwartz, etc… I don’t think Santa. And… I did see him at the bar where the words “naughty/nice” have a different connotation associated with his branding. The other thing… way back in his early days his suits were blue or green, Coke-a-Cola was the company that changed it to red. His indecision to stick to one color shows all of us that we need to control our brand or others will do it for us. Although, I’d have to say, his industry of toy manufacturing has been enhanced by his overwhelming generosity to such a degree that Santa, while representing the toy industry, transcends it to the feeling we get by giving and sharing in all phases of life. So yes, Santa’s Ambassadorship stared in the toy industry, but has grown beyond that industry, and continues to grow.
Honors and Awards: Again, a hard category to judge. And as a Subject Matter Expert, we need to understand that all categories make up a Subject Matter Expert but not all categories will be utilized in the same manner. The goal of the Honors and Award category is to emphasize “street cred” or “social proof” for your brand when you are not in person to make the first hand impression. It’s a way of showing the world that you have authority because a third party endorses you. So while Santa may not be the recipient of the North Pole Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year, there are many toys out there that are “Mom and Santa Approved”. So which is better… winning the award or giving the stamp of approval? I don’t know… but I bet more than half of my readers have a letter in their souvenir box postmarked “North Pole”.
Study: This one is where Santa is weakest. Now I’m not going to diss his business model, because it seems to be working for him. But what’s up with the manufacturing of rocking horses? He must have one heck of an insurance binder on that division… also, do you ever see photos of the elves with the appropriate eye gear worn while working on the manufacturing line? Under the “study” area of a Subject Matter Expert you want to stay at the top of trends, patterns, laws of your industry and you do this by reading websites, attending seminars, and in general continuing to learn/grow and implement new ideas. I never got to hang with Santa in the sleigh to know what audible books he’s got piped into the sled on his world-wide journey… but even recent movies featuring his toy manufacturing plant show it might be time for a safety upgrade because there are lots of conveyor belts that people seem to fall onto to…
Credentials: Within your industry there are credentials. You should acquire these, whether it’s an industry standard, a seal of approval, or extra learning title. Credentials can also come from outside parties, so the fact that NORAD tracks Santa’s worldwide journey so we know exactly when to go to bed, says a lot! The other thing Santa has going for him is that he has the endorsement of parents around the world, they make it a special event to bring their kids to meet him. OH, and at the beginning of this post, Wikipedia does refer to him as “Legendary” – I don’t think your credentials get much higher than “Legendary”.
So while Santa could improve his work place facilities by implementing some new safety procedures, I’d say he’s definitely a role model for us on how to create Subject Matter Expert status as small business owners. He’s also a cautionary tale to build and protect our brands, before others engulf and change them. Think about how many aspects associated with the magic of Santa are not “protected” his name/likeness/image/story/Ho Ho Ho/sleigh… it goes on and on. However, I’m glad it’s a “legendary story” that’s passed down from generation to generation that we all enjoy royalty-free.
And with that, I hope Santa is getting some sleep. It’s not just one long night, the last six weeks have been crazy hours for Santa filled with lots of public appearances to maintain his Subject Matter Expert status. (One fond memory I have of working with Santa was that he had a standing 2:00pm break to get his hair curled at the beauty salon… he wanted to look great for the evening visitors!) So rest well Santa, we’ll see you next year!
Future Thought. We agree Santa is a Subject Matter Expert. But let’s say he picks up his game and starts a blog. He wants to connect with his fans on a deeper level. He’s writing and creating tons of content. He’s got this great reputation and is known worldwide. What happens when he decides to sell the toy manufacturing plant? Is the blog an asset of the toy manufacturing plant? This is the ultimate reason to create your blog outside of your business website. Especially if you have a job! When you change jobs or sell the business, you want to take that preexisting traffic with you… imagine going into consulting and starting out with a blog that contains 5 years worth of content and traffic?!?! Santa should start a blog, but do it under his own personal name and use an RSS feed to his toy manufacturing business so he maintains ownership of the content, domain, and traffic. Just a little FYI Christmas Gift from me to you!
Grab my free guide on becoming a Subject Matter expert.