I am a Deep Generalist.
By the time you’ve finished reading this page, my ongoing articles and case studies, you’re going to want to be one too!
Like many graduates, my early career was a struggle.
This was the old world – a specialist world where we were expected to conform neatly to a specific career path.
Trying to fit into that box nearly crippled me and left me close to bankruptcy. I was
- a trained journalist
- a novelist who'd published a book on historic architecture
- an office manager with experience across IT, marketing, and training
- knowledgeable on a range of industries from real estate through the various venture capital companies I’d promoted
- a tv show host of a program I hope will never again see the light of day
Who would hire someone with so weird a mix of skills? At one point in my life, under mortgage stress and having moved to a different city I hated just to make ends meet, I began to fear the reality that maybe I wasn't fit for this world.
And then ... something changed
I must have applied for 100 jobs in an attempt to kickstart my life again. Accepting a pay-cut, I threw my hat in the ring for a job back in Brisbane - and discovered a firm with a complementary problem to mine.
They needed an operations manager. It was a broad role – you had to be able to talk to people, troubleshoot IT, reconcile Trust Accounts, run training workshops … and they were a real estate franchisor so industry experience was essential.
They couldn’t find anyone with that set of skills.
I couldn’t have found a better leg up.
Versatility is Valuable
The value in a variety of skills, rather than one deep area of specialised expertise, became most apparent to me several years later when (as a business coach and now running my own business) I made the deliberate choice to run headlong into a Recession.
I moved my family to London in the middle of the Global Financial Crisis. And it was the most valuable business decision I ever made.
The future is not in specialising
You might think that a great recession has a dearth of opportunities. And if you’re a specialist who can only excel at one thing, and that one thing may not be relevant when the economy is in the dumps, that’s true. If nothing else, the GFC revealed that the future is not in specialising, it’s in generalising but doing it deeply.
Because the opportunities I found there were legion. I earned more and helped more people in that recession than I ever had in good times.
I also explored my love of travel, visiting 25 countries with my beautiful wife, and new friends. The greatest travel day of my life culminated in 6 of us sitting in an Icelandic hot spring, on a remote farm, sipping chilled Finnish vodka from the bottle while snow silently fell all around
I knew I had financial stability, that my skills were in demand … and that I was no longer living someone else’s version of what they thought my life should be.
This realisation is now the focus of my Keynote Speaking, sharing a message that's critical for every individual seeking a rich, authentic life - and invaluable for every company who wants innovation, creativity, and the opportunity to recruit and retain the greatest talent.
Learn more by watching my Keynote delivered in Australia in November, 2019, or watch this brief interview below.
The Polymath has teeth
Today I am in demand as a coach, advisor, and speaker – not because I have one area of expertise, but because I have so many.
The Renaissance person, the Polymath, wasn’t T-Shaped. They had TEETH, both Width and Depth.
This is the Deep Generalist. Someone who may not have one single area of expertise that stands out, that makes them a world beater. They have depth all over the place: in multiple disciplines; in range and capabilities and expertise.