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Let’s begin with the defining of these words:


1. The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

“listen to his words of wisdom”

2. The soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

the body of knowledge and principles that develops within a specified society or period.


1. Facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

2. Awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.

Many will argue that WISDOM “hands on experience” trumps KNOWLEDGE “depth of studied learning” every time. I don’t disagree but then again, I can’t say I agree. Each has its place and one without the other will limit your progress.

Over the years I have hired and worked with many experienced folks loaded with WISDOM. Their experience usually related to mastering a particular task or operation. As long as they were asked to preform within the parameters of that task they were killers. Move them outside of that familiar base of operation they would seemly have to start over learning how the system functioned. 

On the flip side are the folks with little or no experience but deep in KNOWLEDGE of the task at hand. In their case they knew everything about functionality or details of operation but no idea how to apply it into a practical application. 

You starting to see why I said one without the other limits your success?

Let me give you two scenarios I witnessed first-hand throughout my career. Keep in mind these are just two of hundreds of times that WISDOM verse KNOWLEDGE have showed up in my life. 

Scenario One:

During the early 70s the music industry gave birth to a revolutionary new instrument, Synthesizers. Over the next several decades to current day this technology rewrote how music and sound has been created. Over time the user interface terminology has been softened to more musician friendly terminology. But in the first few decades the front panels of these “instruments” read more like the owner’s manual to the space shuttle then a musical instrument. Thankfully that didn’t dissuade the curious and adventures musicians.

Since at the time there wasn’t any KNOWLEDGE based references on how to use or understand this new tech, musicians were forced to learn by WISDOM; trial and error, pushing buttons and listening to the result, also known as “cause and effect” learning. 

As terms like Oscillator, Voltage Controlled Filter (VCF), ADSR (Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release) became understood in a practical sense, “patch this to that and get this sound”, it unleased the need for a KNOWLEDGE approach to understanding. In 1985 Steve Defuria and Joe Scacciaferro came to the rescue and began writing books on using technology creatively starting with The Secrets of Analog and Digital Synthesis.  At this time publishing houses began pumping out tons of KNOWLEDGE based books on the subject. Universities began offering courses relating to this tech providing the masses both, WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE based methods of learning. 

Scenario Two:

Let’s use audio consoles and broadcast video switchers for our example. I selected them because both come in more flavors then Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Yet regardless of the how the manufactures’ lay out their bells and whistles the gear essentially does the same basic thing, mix and effect video or audio sources from various inputs. 

Many operators using a particular console learned the basics of that console’s operation by a training session or two then advanced their abilities by “cause and effect” learning, WISDOM learning. If they got lucky they were able to advanced their careers based on that one manufacture’s model. 

There is nothing wrong with this approach IF your cool with only being able to work in rooms that have that console or switcher and the project demands fall into your area of experience. 

In an effort to raise your game and advance your career, you need to be able to jump on any switcher or console and get right to work. In order to do that you need the general understanding or KNOWLEDGE of how all switchers or consoles function. How the signals flow through the device and what stages can be used to affect those signals, 

If you haven’t figured it out already, the answer to the question, “which is more valuable KNOWLEDGE or WISDOM learning”, the answer is you need BOTH to grow and succeed. 

I’m a hands-on learner initially. I need to push buttons, turn knobs and see what happens, WISDOM. Once I’ve become comfortable with the gear’s operation I then dive into the, WHY those controls do what they do, KNOWLEDGE. 

I know many successful people whose approach is KNOWLEDGE first and then hands-on.  

Given an equal set of project circumstances, deadlines, access to gear, etc. either the WISDOM first or KNOWLEDGE first is acceptable, as long as you eventually cover both. 

*To learn more about advancing your skills and career check out ON LOCATION series on FerroTV and learn first-hand from industry leaders the secrets to their success. 

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