What the Chief Beer Economist can teach you about doing your dream work

By Lori

Famous in your field: what you loved as a kid can be your key to standing out

Famous in your field: what you loved as a kid can be your key to standing out

Bart Watson thinks and talks about beer all day long.

Sure, so do millions of other people, but for Bart it’s more than a hobby. It’s his job.

You may not have heard of him yet, but he’s definitely famous in his field.

The best part for Bart? He mixed his personal passion with his vocation.

Bart is the Chief Economist for The Brewers Association. The Brewers Association is an organization of craft beer brewers, home brewers, their suppliers and wholesalers.

Economics and beer

It’s a killer recipe.

Bart may not have set out to become famous in his field. After all, in his words, he’s a “a stats geek, beer lover, and Certified Cicerone®.” (That’s a certification as a bona fide beer expert. Feel free to casually drop it at your next swanky soiree.)

That’s delightful for Bart, you may think, but how do I combine my personal passions with my professional skills?

There are certain characteristics you need to become even a little bit famous in your field. Let’s focus on just three must-have criteria for now:

  • Specialization
  • Authority
  • Distinction


You know who does NOT become famous in their field? Generalists.

To make an impact, you’ve got to focus.

Concentrate on a core talent. Hone it. Own it.

(Fret not fame seeker! You can always expand your specialty later, but until you’re known, your expertise should be an inch wide and a mile deep.)


Your goal: to be recognized as an expert and a leader in your area.

Marketer Frank Kern said this, “Positioning, most importantly positioning yourself as an authority, is the single most important thing you can do increase your perceived value to the market place.” [Huffington Post]

Bart knows beer and he knows economics. Boom! Authority.


You have to stand out. To be “different” from the other people who do what you do.

(But don’t be that one person who always wears head-to-toe purple, hoping to stand out. You will, but not in a good way.)

Your distinction should have value for your audience and be sustainable.

7 magic questions to uncover your special, distinctive authority

It can be hard to figure out how to specialize, demonstrate authority and practice distinction. It takes effort and self-reflection.

Here are seven questions to help you excavate your assets:

  1. How can you leverage your past training or experience to bring a new perspective to your current endeavor?
  2. Look to practices or strategies from another field or industry. How could you add those to your own approach?
  3. What sections of the bookstore are you drawn to? What books are on your bedside table?
  4. What gives you untold energy when you do it?
  5. As a child, what skills were you good at? What did you love to do?
  6. What are the things you do that you feel come “easy” for you?
  7. As you progress through your life…what characteristics do people keep telling you that you are “so talented” in?

By answering some of these questions for yourself, you’ll discover your own superpowers and interests. When you combine these ingredients with your expertise, they create your secret sauce.

And when you weave them into what you do, they naturally create the personal brand elements of specialization, authority and distinction.

Don’t worry if what you’re doing now doesn’t mix your personal passions with your vocation.

It can take time to remember what you used to love, discover what you’re fantastic at and then to figure out how to mix those ingredients into your signature fame cocktail.

Bart Watson’s first job wasn’t Chief Beer Economist. Nor was his second. But now it is.

And back when I was rocking parachute pants while furiously scribbling detective stories, choreographing Solid Gold dance routines with my cousins and spying on strangers, I had no idea that I’d eventually inject those passions in my business.

But I do.

Every. Damn. Day.

Take some advice from Steve Jobs:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

Your fame boosting assignment:

Spend some time this week looking backward. Ask yourself the magic questions. Rediscover your passions. Take note of your talents. Think about how you could add some of your own brand of magic to your work.

You, my friend, are on your way to being straight up swoon-worthy.

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