I was exchanging email with someone the other day, and he asked about my business and what it was I did.
What I came up with on the spur of the moment so perfectly captured one aspect of Ask Leo! that I took myself aback. 🙂
You’d think that after nearly a dozen years of doing this, I’d have a pretty clear picture and “elevator pitch”. Indeed, I do have a pretty good “why” that I captured earlier this year. But that’s different than a “what”.
The answer I shared crystallized something important about how I do what I do.
My ulterior motive, if you will.
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Answers and Education
My statement was this:
“I answer people’s tech questions, and sneak in some education when they’re not looking.”
It’s true. You might think I’m here to simply answer questions, and that is the basis for this site and the information I produce.
But my real purpose here is to educate. . . even those who don’t know they want an education.
Answers versus explanations
I stumbled across a term I’d never heard of the other day1: “mansplaining”. Wikipedia currently defines it as “to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.”
It started me thinking about what I do, and how everything I write is, in one form or another, an explanation of some sort – even this article. I try not to do it in a condescending or patronizing way, but with a wide variety of readers, who have a wide range of proficiency, it’s sometimes a challenging line to walk.
But it reminded me of something I also hear from time to time:
“I don’t care how or why, just tell me what to do to make it work!”
You want solutions. I get that. The how or why that might fascinate some2 is so much noise to you.
Or is it?
Knowledge is power
If the problem you’re facing is the only problem you’ll ever face using technology, then just telling you what to do without explanation would be entirely appropriate. There’s no real value in going further. Click here, type that, and you’re done.
Unfortunately, and I think you know this, technology is rarely that simple. You will encounter problems again. Be it simply not understanding how to do something, or being stymied by a computer that isn’t behaving as expected, there will be problems. There will be bumps in the road. Some will be large, some small, but it’s inevitable.
I want to empower you to navigate those bumps more confidently, and solve some on your own.
And when you do need to reach out for help, I want you to be able to ask the right questions in the right way, so you’ll get the answers you need.
That’s where sneaking in some education comes in.
Knowledge is confidence and independence
If every time you have a question I give you only and strictly the answer to that particular question, then the next time you have a question, you’ll need to ask again.
On the other hand, if each time you ask a question you also learn a little about how things are, how things work, and why things do what they do, the chances are that you may very well be able to answer your own questions as they come up.
You won’t be as dependent on people like me to help you through your day.3
In fact, you might be able to pass it along – pay it forward, if you will – by being there to answer someone else’s questions based on what you’ve learned.
That’s my ulterior motive.
That you’ll need me less and less.
I guess it’s not a secret any more.