Jack-of-all-trades, master of one! ep9

ladders photo

Yr1 | Ep9


It will depend upon who is sitting at the computer!
That will determine who the people in the background represent.

Why Generalists and Specialists need each other.

LIfe serves up an interesting conundrum.
Should you be a specialist or should you be a generalist?
The question was posed on a podcast that caused the hosts to ponder the answer.

“Why is this episode going off the charts?”

“What is so unusual about this episode?”

I recently interviewed the author of these questions, Jayme Soulati, and decided to review the show she shares with John Gregory Olson.
Because it begged an answer, and I was immediately struck by several considerations of my own.


Growing up, we had a saying in Northern Ireland and across the general British Isles.
He is, “A Jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none!”

The idea was that they could do many things well, but no one thing with mastery.

You will see that I think this should be,  “jack-of-all-trades or master of one!”
What I mean by this is that most generalists are wrapped around a specialty.
But seldom are specialists geared the same way.

I never really grabbed the essentials of this moniker until I realized something about myself.
I did master one specific thing, or at least made it my specific objective to master it as much as I was capable of doing.

Along the way I picked up the generalists bent.
Being interested in everything and curious about too many things.

I examined life, living, work, play, and more.
But often I lost interest in going beyond proficiency in the matter.
I know why now.

There’s nothing wrong with the ladder, it’s the wall that needs to be moved.

Comparisons of need.

One inch wide and ten miles deep.

The specialist.
They are the one inch wide and a mile deep people.
They have the intricacies of the speciality.
Your customer needs this but often the generalist can’t supply it.
So, you go to the ladder, the specialist and barter a deal.

One inch deep and ten miles wide.

The generalist.
They are the one inch deep and a mile wide people.
They have the intricacies of a wide general competency.
They have what the specialist doesn’t and they need it.
so you go to the wall or the ladder and or the wall or the ladder must come to you.

Here are some examples to consider.

Tesla and Edison
Nicola Tesla was the ladder.
Without him Edison could not light his bulb or safely deliver current over long distances.

Tesla needed Edison to get a place to build his ladder of expertise.
Edison used this to his advantage whenever he needed him.

Jobs and Wozniak
Jobs was the generalist that saw what the future electronic age would bring.
Wozniak was the ladder that Jobs put against that wall to make it happen.

Jobs needed Wozniak to build the ladder.
Wozniak needed Jobs to get his expertise to market.

Ford and business minds

Ford saw the wall for the cars.
His engineers built the ladder.

Ford created the assembly line.
The engineers build the ladders he saw and needed.

And then there is you?

Are you a specialist?
Find your generalist who faces the same wall or similar.
Pair up. Form a coop. Let the generalist find the walls, then bring the ladders to them.
And the reverse if you are a generalist.

Not so easy, but worth the work.

Each specialist needs to find the right generalist or selection of generalists to work with.
Same for the generalist they need their ladder building specialists as well.
When this happens.
Clients can be served the best.

But specialists and generalists often are one man or one woman shows.
The costs are too high to share the revenue of business with another.
So going it alone takes its toll.

Oh! of course there is always an exception to the rule.
Once in a while you get an exceptional specialist who is an extraordinary generalist.
That is for another day, and I will revisit this part of the need.

The podcast in consideration.


Why they could not see the woods and the trees for the ladders they were using.
Their audience was telling, yelling, something to them.
This is the content we are interested in.
Give us more.

They needed to find out why?
Then provide how!
This was a red letter podcast, and it has a product in it.

Because here was the demand. The downloads show that!
Because the wall has spoken, please give them more help with this subject.
Get together with your specialists skills and give them a product that meets the walls needs.


What if, instead you get a lot of people with ladders and sort out who should climb what wall?
Save everyone the trouble of doing something they don’t want to.
Small business owners who listened to this podcast learned something about themselves.
They were either a specialist who couldn’t understand that they needed to climb many walls.
And that the generalist was the one who could help them find the walls to climb.
Often and usually the specialist doesn’t like to find walls to climb.
And the generalist doesn’t have time to build all the ladders they need for all the walls that are to be climbed.

Closer to home.

I’d been thinking about this topic for years.

My ladder and the wrong wall.
You may have heard the anecdote about the ladder and the wall.
You specialize in building a ladder to climb a wall.
Yet, you learn something in the doing of that.
The ladder is O.K. but the wall isn’t.
Either you move the ladder to another wall.
Or move the wall and replace it with another.

Which one do you think I undertook?

So these two need each other.

The issues are simple.
Which one are you good at and which one should you leave alone?

Snakes and Ladders a game I used to play.

There was a game we played in my youth: Snakes and ladders.

Roll the dice land on a ladder go up to the next place.
It might be a good thing or land you on a bad thing.

Roll the dice, land on a snake, and down the snake to the end of its tail you go.
The winner got to the end of the squares.
On the podcast under discussion they were discussing maybe without knowing the game.
The small business owner by nature of the ladders and walls must be a generalist because they take all the business they are competent to deliver.
Problems arise when they are not specialists in some of the work needed to complete the assignments.
So, off you hurriedly go to find a person with a specific ladder, one that you don’t have all the rungs too.

ladders and walls, specialists and generalists.

This is were the idea of networking could be used best.
Instead of finding business for others within a group through endorsements.
Find specialists and generalists to combine to climb walls for customers who can’t.

It comes down to two things.

Time and or money.
Who has enough of both?
They usually don’t exist in our world.

Listen to Jayme’s insights regarding this issue.
It is plain to me, the audience have a major problem with these two factors.
They can’t be both expert and generalist in everything.

I see a wall of opportunity here.

Here’s my dilema!

I built a ladder.
I knew the wall wasn’t exactly interested in the expertise I could deliver.
In fact the wall was the wrong one.
I had learned and gathered my expertise for the wrong audience, people or wall.
I could not stay against this wall.
I had to find another or other ones.

I moved the wall.

So I climbed down, a humbling experience, and walked away with the ladder.
And then…
I decided to find the right wall before I put the ladder up against it and climb again.

I saw this wall during an eight minute speech I gave in Tennessee.
People, real hard working people, were there to gather more.

More information, expertise, insights and ladder connections.
But something else was wanting and I saw it.
I tuned them back into my ladder and my expertise.
They wanted more.
Alas, ’twas not the time but I did not close my eyes.
It just took time.
To become a better generalist regarding the new snakes and ladders of social media and then some.

So I became fresh-oil.
A generalist wrapped around a specialty.
I’ve lived wide and ranged far in my curiosities and studies.
Yet I gave myself to one pursuit.
learning the contents of The Unknown Book.
Applying that to the age I live in.
Helping people find their way.

The ladders I don’t have I find.
And then I get permission to use them.
For both our benefits.