What do you know?

Has anyone ever told you, It is not what you know but who you know? Up for a challenge?


Heigh, ho! Heigh ho! It's off to the work we go!

Heigh, ho! Heigh ho! It’s off to the work we go!

When you venture into the job market the first time, it is painfully obvious the adage is true. Trying to get your foot in the door is a virtual impossibility when there is no one to vouch for the skills you so carefully conveyed on your résumé and to stand up for the dedication you adamantly pronounce in your cover letter.

Think about your degree for a moment. The dean who signed your sheepskin to attest to your corporate prowess has done none of the following:

  • Seen any of your coursework
  • Watched you ply your trade
  • Spoken of your ability with those who have witnessed it
  • Investigated how you made the grade (was it all extra credit?)
  • Judged your character, personally or corporately
  • Recognized you in any setting by virtue of your merits
  • Known more than your presence at graduation was a direct result of tuition

Those facts notwithstanding, without that signature, there is no fruit of your collegiate labor. No human resources manager would take your word for all the A-grades you made without someone neither of you has met signing off on them nor pay you a salary commensurate with your ability.


caduceusThe quote holds true here in a striking number of ironies. You crawl into the doctor’s office evidently moments from death. Someone who occupation is answering a telephone asks if you have any medical records to prove you are sick. In a dumbfounded moment, you question why you came. Was it not to be treated and create the records for which you were just asked?

Oh, right. Medical staff cannot take your word for what is wrong because you obviously have no medical training to be able to tell them in words they understand. Pull out your checkbook because they need to run a few thousand dollars worth of tests to see if you are a human since you do not have the background to make that call on your own.


scaleHave you ever tried to get a fair shake with nothing more than your word? It will never happen. Despite all legislation to the contrary, no one is innocent until proven guilty. The system does not even have a verdict of “innocent”. The best you can hope for is “not guilty”. After all, there had to be probable cause for the accusation, right?

Enter the self-admitted, most-hated of the species: Attorneys. The irony most judges are attorneys is not lost on many. When you enter a law office, if you have money, you have a defense.


Yes, you, there on the left. What is your question?

“I thought we were talking about who you know and what you know. It seems to me you are leading to money being the issue.”

Let’s direct the conversation back to the adage at hand.


cash-money.jpgIn all of the scenarios, the exchange of money led to favorable position. Money, of course, is figurative because each of the scenarios could play out in the form of barter, trade, scholarship, charity, insurance, pro bono publico and any other manner of compensation.

In all of the scenarios, the who you know was important for only one reason: What they know.

We are not the most trusting of species. While we often fall prey to misguided trust, as a group, we are distrustful of one another. In fact, all those people we seek to vouch for us serve a purpose besides taking our money. They know what we do not.

Do not be offended. You just chose a different major in school. They even chose different majors from one another.

Despite our fundamental lack of trust, we are still social animals who use society to our advantage. We all play an integral role in the society and know at some point we will need to rely on the knowledge of others. Eventually, the dean needs a plumber, the doctor a mechanic and the attorney an undertaker.

Can you imagine the burden of having to know everything on your own? Of building a reputation for every field? Of being the one everyone else comes to for (help, advice, guidance)?

The challenge is not choosing between who you know and what you know. The challenge truly lies is knowing who knows what.

In which scenario do you find yourself most often? Have you ever relied on someone who did not have the what to solve your problem?

Hashtags: #trust #whoyouknow #society

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  1. All too frequently do I find myself in all these situations. I suppose I am most fortunate, I haven’t changed doctors in years and they treat me well, knowing my name, my conditions (all of them including hard-headed).

    To the rest, we have built an entire culture based on the exchange of money. Now everything is for sale, nothing cheap and frequently we struggle with whether what we end up with was worth it.
    Valentine Logar recently posted..Say it Out LoudMy Profile

    • Thus far I have yet to find the purchase which was worth the blood, sweat or tears (and certainly none worth all three) I put into making whatever fortunes I may relinquish.

  2. Doctors often don’t seem to know what’s going on or what to do, despite their confidence.

    • I often point out they “practice” medicine. They are one of two professions which deal in matters of life and death and are licensed to make mistakes.

  3. I agree. My latest beef is with the people I bought my gas fireplace from. They take my money but can’t seem to fix it for more than five minutes, and expect me to fork over more money. Aren’t they supposed to be the experts?

    Excellent post.
    Tess recently posted..Christmas Grotto 2015 – Flash Fiction Anthologies with Tess Karlinski.My Profile

    • I have that fight often with tech companies who want to sell me an expensive version of their “free” service. When I point out I pay for that service, ergo it is not “free”, it is “contractual” and they are in breach of contract, I can hear the attorney pucker right through my screen. *giggles*

      Great to see you today, Tess. xxx


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