I’ll never forget the moment that our friend made up the word Experteering. Her name is Lynn, and she was hosting Derk and I on our first partnership building trip to New York. At the time, we had just started working on our new idea for a social enterprise, MovingWorlds.org. Our mission? Tackle the global talent gap while developing globally and socially-minded leaders.
We knew that to solve this talent gap, we would have to inspire a movement that connected expertise into the depths of major cities around the world, into startup hubs in emerging economies, and into the most remote areas where the challenges to progress can be the greatest.
While staying with Lynn, Derk and I were brainstorming a new word that represented the idea of giving your most valuable assets — your time, energy, skills, and experience — in a way that is good for the world AND good for you. As it turns out, intentional, impactful, skills-based volunteering can make you happier, healthier, and even help you end up with a better job. More importantly, it’s also a critical tool for global development.
The word “volunteering” didn’t give this idea justice. Especially in international situations where the word “Voluntourism” has created so much harm.
So when Lynn said, “just call it Experteering“, as if it was the most popular word in the English language, Derk and I just stopped in our tracks. We looked at each other and smiled knowing that a new word would one day be in the dictionary.
We’ve spent the five years since pushing the idea of Experteering. I remember our first few meetings where we started testing this new word. For every 10 people we would talk with, 6 loved the idea right away, 3 were intrigued, and 1 would be confused and ask for an explanation. We discussed the pro’s and con’s of sticking to this new word, and we sought advice from others.
Coming up with a new word and trying to shift the focus of an entire industry into a more ethical, sustainable path is a challenging and time-consuming task. Advisors, partners, and funders cautioned us against trying to accomplish this while still a small startup. They said things like “It will be distracting“, “You’ll slow down partnerships“, “You’ll confuse constituents“. They were right; we did all those things. After every hiccup, we continued to debate if we should stick to the challenging path of popularizing a new word to represent this new movement of skilled service overseas.
Early on we knew that the traditional idea of volunteering just wasn’t enough. Volunteering has connotations of manual service and one-time efforts. In some cases, especially in international volunteering, it even does more harm than good. More importantly, most skilled professionals don’t volunteer. It didn’t matter if trying to popularize Experteering was going to put more bumps on our startup road. The world needs a movement that engages the smartest minds and applies them to our greatest challenges.
Creating an Experteering movement became a calling. We didn’t just want to get people to volunteer more and volunteer better, we wanted to tap into the millions of people that don’t volunteer to consider doing something new — to go Experteering.
We came up with ‘Experteering’ in 2011. That year, we also we sent our first Experteer overseas through MovingWorlds.org. In 2013 we started to support our first corporate and university partners. In 2015, we finally got some press talking about this new idea. And with 2016 just beginning, we see new organization starting to use the term that we’ve never even partnered with. Here’s just a few samples:
- A Better Way to Volunteer Overseas – Go Experteering
- ‘Voluntourism’ Can’t Solve Big Problems, That’s Where ‘Experteers’ Come In
- When Experts Volunteer, Good Happens
Experteering has a long way to go, but it’s catching on.
I remember talking to our lawyers in 2011 debating whether we should trademark the term. We decided against it. The reason? We knew that Experteering was a movement that is bigger than MovingWorlds.
If we want to save our planet from global warming, reduce pain and suffering around the globe, and eradicate poverty, we’ll need to do more than we’re doing. Sure, anybody can give some time and money, but Experteering is deeper than that. It’s giving the world your most valuable gifts: Your heart, brain, and soul. Luckily, when you give these things, you also get to see the best the world has to offer.
Thanks for supporting us, but more importantly, thanks for supporting the Experteering movement.