“It’s not what you know it’s who you know.”
We’ve all heard this saying, and I’ve heard it as much as anyone growing up. At times I took it to heart, which was a mistake. And it goes back to my words of advice on life about being careful about who you take advice from.
When I think back, most people who told me this saying all got their jobs from family members, friends, and friends of their parents. But the jobs they got were short-lived, required no specific knowledge that made them an asset for the company and were token jobs of no real consequence. Jobs such as sales, politics, and I can think of one person who parlayed an acquaintance into a lifelong career via a political connection.
But I’m at a point in my life when I have enough road behind me to see patterns clearly and realize some hard and fast truths. Which is why I’m sharing this wisdom in the first place. I don’t want my daughter to have to learn all the lessons I did by trial and error.
It in fact IS what you know, and partly who you know from knowing what you know.
To get anywhere professionally you need to know more about something than others. Even if you decide to make living with your muscles instead of your brain, you still need to know how to perform your work better than others. Otherwise, people are going to skip over you and go to the next person who is the expert.
The more you know about something the more likely people are going to seek your input and insight. And through those contacts and connections, you tend to meet the right people in a network where opportunities present themselves more frequently. Makes sense, no?
For example, I have people reach out to me often to speak about what I think the future holds for WordPress and blogging software and technological areas that I spend a lot of time immersed in. As a result, I meet and know people that otherwise would be difficult to grab some time with. And they know people that are accessible to me if I ever need the opportunity.
I’d also like to emphasize that people like to help others when they know what they want and what they want to do. Think of it as being available to pitch to They aren’t there to figure out your life for you. Impress people with what you know and they’ll introduce you to the right people to make your dreams come true. If you know nothing but know people of influence, it doesn’t matter. You’re just wasting their time.
Anyone who knows me knows how much I love music. I always have. When I was growing up, my parents had one of those console stereos that were popular in the 1950s and ’60s that were about 6 feet wide, with 4 “speakers” (I imagine most of these pieces for entertainment furniture only had 2 speakers and the others were decorative) and a lid that opened to reveal the controls. Otherwise, it was just a big piece of furniture that sat there. It was very retro, made from cherry wood, if I remember, and included a turntable that had 3 speeds, and an FM/AM radio. I have no idea where it came from, but it ended up in my bedroom, and ultimately in our beach house at Holden Beach. I think it was either donated or left with the house when we sold it in the 1980s. But when I was a young boy and had it in my bedroom, I turned it into a “radio station.”
I also had a ton of records, which largely were my mother’s old 45’s from her teenage years that she took to the beach house she went to growing up at Alligator Point. Chubby Checker, Little Richard, and all the hits from the 1950s and early ’60s. Back when Rock and Roll were embryonic. In a sense, I’ve followed rock and roll from its birth to its death which was arguably in the late 1990s. That’s a debate that’s ongoing, and something I should write about in another post. The computer, pro music, autotune, and a few other travesties were the cause.
Anyway, she also had a lot of opera, country (real country like Willie, Waylon, Hank, Patsy, and so on.) And a lot of other eclectic music, including Tiny Tim and Steve Martin. A lot of classical records on very thick vinyl as well, from the early 1900’s. So I got to hear a lot of variety.
My first venture into music I liked was Jimmy Buffet. I listened to him a lot and had all his records. You have to think back then, I lived in a town that had 2 record stores. The Record Bar at the mall, and another Newsstand, that was more famous for the magazines it carried in the backroom behind the beaded curtain. And most of the records were aimed at older teenagers who drove vans and liked to party. I was about 12 or 13 at the time. So music was limited. We had a radio station in town but they played pop music, which I’ve never liked. Back then, that was Journey, Billy Joel, Men at Work, Toto, Asia, and the tunes MTV played a lot of back when they played music videos.
I went off to boarding school and my musical life changed dramatically and for the better. I fell in love with the Grateful Dead, The Cure, The Violent Femmes, The Clash, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, REM, The Replacements, Husker Du, The Smiths(which are still an eternal favorite), and on and on with what was considered “Alternative.” No one outside of college and boarding schools listened to these bands because they were only played on college stations and you could only find the music near big colleges like UVa, where I hung out, mail order, and taped from friends. I remember it being years before anyone back home had heard of any of these bands. And that was also when trading Grateful Dead tapes was a huge hobby for people. I had about 120, which I treasured, and which were stolen while I was at college.
The Grateful Dead is still my favorite, but I’ve gone through phases where I listened to other musicians and groups intensely for years. The Allman Brothers are also an all-time favorite, but I have gotten into other artists that I wanted to learn to play on the guitar. Doing so requires listening to them a lot. Like Jack Johnson. I learned about every song of his. And not barely listen to him at all anymore. You can see what my listening habits are at LastFM, which keeps a record of most of my listening habits by “Scrobbling.” I used to have a program that kept a spreadsheet of every song I listened to with date, time, and other random data in Google Sheets as well, but I’m not sure if it still saves those. One thing LastFM doesn’t do is keep track of Grateful Dead bootlegs I listen to and have downloaded. So while I think I have about 150,000 hours of music tracked I’ve listened to, that doesn’t even include probably that much it hasn’t.
One band I’ve solidified in my all-time favorites is Radiohead, which I’ve written about here before. Although Thom Yorke is hyper-liberal, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, his musical genius is apparent. Radiohead’s commercial success always turned me off, like Creep and Fake Plastic Trees. But I learned that those songs don’t represent what they actually write and play, which is simply awesome.
So I was excited to find this gem on Radiohead’s website. There are a lot of performances from Coachella nd in France and here and there on Youtube, but this is a great one from 6-17-2017. Check it out!