At least once a month someone asks me if I have expertise in their industry, whether they’re building widgets for tow trucks or rockets for NASA. And it has always struck me as the wrong question. I can learn about you; don’t you want to know if I understand what a business model is, or how you might best reach out to your audience?

With that in mind, a huge “thank you” to GM‘s new chairman, Edward Whitacre, who told Bloomberg News in an interview:

“I don’t know anything about cars. A business is a business, and I think I can learn about cars… I think the business principles are the same.”

 

The quote is reprinted in John Baldoni’s terrific blog post on what outsiders need to succeed in an organization. He talks about intelligence, people skills, and strong will. It’s worth a read.

So what do you think? Is industry expertise a deal breaker for you?

Photo by Janet Ramsden (Flickr).