Archives for posts with tag: Jack of all trades

I came across this picture recently. I can’t remember where I saw it. It was too late to be included in my book, which is available in all good booksellers – actually just one enormous online bookseller… I think I would have put it in if I’d seen it earlier.

I’m not sure when the picture dates from, perhaps the 1920s, or perhaps the 1930s is more likely. There’s something so sad about the picture, yet it sums up the whole reason for me writing the book in the first place.

I’m not sure it’s genuine; the bottom of the placard looks a bit too straight and clean. If it is genuine, then it’s not a great advertisement. What trade does he know? What job does he want? What does he want us to do?

In the book I talk about how we’re not really a Jack of All Trades, we’re a Jack of Few Trades. Three trades qualifies as a few, and I’m willing to bet in the pictured case they’re closely related.

The funny thing is, in today’s world and today’s economy we would prize this type of person, and they’d probably be doing fine working from home. Yet, back then, in dire economic hardship – the kind of economic hardship we might be looking at now for the next number of years – this basket of physical skills was not enough to land a single job.

There was little opportunity back then to craft your your own value as a specialised generalist. There is now.

If you’d like to know more about how we Jacks of All Trades can triumph in the modern world, you can buy the book here, or from the US and Germany Amazon sites too.

I think this is my first ever Sunday post. Feels good!

“Concurs 2014, Castellers d’Esplugues” by Castellers d’Esplugues is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Here’s one of the first pages of my You Don’t Know Jack! book, which you can buy here.)

This book is for 99% of us.

This book is for the 99% of us you don’t see on screen, you don’t hear about on the radio, you don’t read about in the papers.

Who are we? We are the Jackies and Jacks of All Trades – the JOATs. We’re pretty good at a bunch of things, but not so good at one of them that you would know of us.

Yes, we work, we play sports, we do a bit of music, we talk politics. But we’re not the 1%.

We are the people who put other people in power. We are the audiences at sports, music and other cultural events. We are the powerhouse of the organisation that gets things done. We are the buyers and consumers of things and ideas. We are the economic provider for the rich and famous.

We are the unsung heroes. We are the people that matter. We are multi-talented, we have options, and we have control. This book helps us understand why this is so and how we can live to our fullest potential.

Are you one of the 99%? If so, I recommend the book. But then I would, I hear you say, I wrote it. You can buy it here, or from the US and Germany Amazon sites too.

 

Are We Following the Wrong Role Models?

Here’s one of my favourite pages, and one of my favourite images, of which there are over a hundred, from my recently published book You Don’t Know Jack! Why the Jack of All Trades Triumphs in the Modern World. You can buy the book here, and if you could leave a review too, well, that would be awesome – to me.

The page is entitled ‘Are we following the wrong role models?’ and it goes like this.

“Who are our role models? Whose posters adorned the walls of our bedrooms when we were growing up? Film and TV stars? Music stars? Pop stars? Sporting heroes? Fighting heroes? Sex gods and goddesses? Cartoon or comic book characters? Business icons? Entrepreneurs? World leaders?

Do we look to them for inspiration? Or do we strive to be like them, to take their place? And what happens next year when their star fades, and we lose interest in them, and their posters are replaced by those of the new gods, the new heroes? They’re still doing what they do best, aren’t they? They haven’t changed their tune, tried something else, started again, like we have.

These are unattainable dreams, to all but the very few who knew from very early on that this is what they were born to do, what they wanted to do. They have one dimension, one direction, one dream. We don’t.

Who ever had a poster of their parents made and put up on a wall? The people who spent their adult lives helping to make us the people we are today? Who scrimped and saved, sweated and worried for us? Who we have to thank for putting up with us? Who we took for granted as we got older and who we wish we’d done more for now they’re gone? Who, actually, we strive to be like, kind of?

They’re in the photo frames on our table, but why aren’t they in the posters on our walls? And why not our teachers, coaches, mentors too?”

I hope you like it. Actually, I don’t mind if you like it or not. I’m more interested in whether you think it’s good, whether you think it has value.

 

JOAT! Book front cover

You Don’t Know Jack! is available in Kindle ebook and paperback

I’m beyond excited – and actually a little giddy – to announce that I have published my first book. I hinted at this when I completed my 1,000th blog post earlier this year. I feel like linking to my book every other word, but that would be silly, and probably annoying to you, the reader, and potential buyer. I’d be super grateful if you shared this post with your network. If you do buy it, a stellar customer review would make an oldish man very happy.

The book is called ‘You Don’t Know Jack! Why the Jack of All Trades Triumphs in the Modern World’. It’s the so-called self-help genre, where you might find Messrs Ferris, Gladwell, Godin and Pink, to mention but 4 in alphabetically democratic order. Here’s the back cover blurb:

“Ever wondered why the phrase ‘Jack of All Trades, Master of None’ is always used as a negative and never a positive? It’s as if being pretty good at a good few things is some kind of burden! It applies to a staggering 99% of us, yet almost nothing is written on this overwhelmingly large part of the human race that will probably never be a leader in its field. You Don’t Know Jack! is the first book to explain the vital role the Jack of All Trades, or JOAT for short, fulfils in society. It tells us why it’s OK not to get into the 1% and how our thirst for variety and ability to adapt give us the perfect platform for us to live richly, generously and happily. This is the first book of Paul Dilger, a dyed-in-the-wool JOAT who threads his own experiences through this thoughtful and original publication.”

This project started in 2015, and it’s fair to say it began as it ended, as a side project while I pursued my paid job and a bunch of voluntary roles. I began writing it in 2015. I finished it in 2018. I then spent a year trying and failing to get editors and publishers to take it on, before deciding to self-publish. The following year I spent sourcing the photography for the book – it’s heavily photographic, and is designed to be coffee-table ‘putdownable’ – and cajoling a designer friend of mine to take on the project as a side project of her own.

So here we are, 5 years later, and it’s on digital and in print. I would be touched, and not just financially, if you bought it. You can read it for free on Kindle Unlimited, it’s £5.99 as a Kindle ebook and the paperback is a reassuringly expensive £19.99. Why so much, I hear you say. Well, the on demand print cost alone is almost half that, since almost every page is in glorious photographic and typographic colour. Then there’s a lifetime of personal experiences, thoughts and advice in it. Amazon takes a big chunk, and the remainder I split between me and the long-suffering designer.

Here’s my brand promise to you. If you are a generalist, a Jack or Jackie or Jacquie of All Trades, and, as you’ve read, I think that’s pretty much all of us, you’ll get something out of this book. You’ll certainly know me better than you did before.

If you get a chance, have a quick gander at the Jack!Books website, and you might give the Jack!Books Instagram and Twitter a sneaky follow too.

The publishing name Jack!Books is plural because I’ve already written a sequel to this book. I promise it will be out quicker than the first one.

Thanks for reading! The post, that is, not the book, yet…

There is a terribly famous song by U2 called ‘I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.’ Those of you – and I count myself among you – who don’t live to work, as opposed to work to live, may well identify with the lyric in the song.

I know people who go through an entire life without finding what they’re looking for career-wise.  Are their lives the lesser for it, do they feel unfulfilled as a result? No and no, at least they shouldn’t.

Searching for perfection in life, in work, in every single project or activity you turn your hand to, is an important means in itself, not a means to an end.

It’s unlikely we can achieve true perfection in anything, nor is it healthy or productive to try beyond a certain point, but it’s the looking for perfection, the striving for what we think the end goal is, that keeps us improving, keeps us working, keeps us alive even. Hunger for the new, the next big thing, stops us standing still and sustains the quality in the work we do.

The majority of sales organisations and sales people intuitively distinguish between two types of sales person and sales role. The hunter is the new business person who gets the deal with the new customer in the door and then moves on to the next. The farmer is the account manager who develops that account and nurtures the relationship.

The received wisdom is that each role is suited to a particular type of character. Some folk are suited to the rough and tumble of closing the deal, others are better at deepening the rapport.

Then there is another view, propounded principally by companies like The TAS Group who are behind the Target Account Selling methodology. They argue that the best, most strategic and most successful sales people are those who strategise on target accounts, figure out where the need is, develop the opportunity for a sale and then close the opportunity themselves.

Where do you stand on this? Are opportunity management and account management dedicated, specialised roles that should stay separate, or should they be part of a combined, more strategic role? The answer, of course, is that it depends, but I’d be interested in your views on the matter.

These days it seems that the world is ruled and run by specialists, people dedicated to doing one thing really well.  As business and the world get more developed, and more sophisticated, you don’t seem to see the Renaissance Man any more, someone supremely gifted in two separate fields, maybe representing their country at two different sports, or being a well known ‘thesp’ and a pioneering doctor for example.  It’s just too hard these days.

This is great if you’re good at and really enjoy that one thing.  Your career and life choices become easier, even though you may suffer from career bottlenecks, glass ceilings or lack of a plan B.

But what about the generalists, where does this leave them?  Those that are good at most things, can turn their hand to pretty much anything, but don’t consider or are not considered by others to be a specialist.  For them the dreaded moniker ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ looms, whispered in the hallways or by the water cooler.

In my anecdotally-acquired view, generalists are more well rounded and better adjusted people.  They have more opinions, more dimensions to their character.  Put simply, they’re just nicer, better to have around and get on with.  The trouble for the generalist is that they don’t usually burn with a passion for that one thing.  Choices come harder to them and their natural inclination is to hedge their bets, seek diversity, spread the risk, and be good at a number of things rather than great at one.

Moreover, they’re probably better at their chosen job than the specialist.  And here’s why; they’re adaptable.  It turns out that adaptability is probably the most important skill when it comes to leadership.   And guess who’s best at being adaptable, at moving seamlessly from skill-set to skill-set, situation to situation?  The generalist of course, it’s what they’re wired to be.