Archives for posts with tag: Specialist

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…

I saw an article on the BBC website the day, about polymaths: people who are great at more than one thing, and how they can help the wider community solve bigger problems.

I didn’t read the whole article, obviously, because it was too damn long. But it roused in me a feeling that I’ve felt for a long time. There are no polymaths; it’s a myth to think there are.

At least as far as regular people like me are concerned, that is. A genuine polymath is one in a million, so why would the other 999,999 of us see this as something to aspire to, something we can achieve?

Maybe, back in the days of the Renaissance, there were genuine renaissance men and women who led their field in a bunch of fields. But back then, there were far fewer people with the access to some of those fields, never mind the time or ability to excel at them. The competitive pool was so much smaller. I don’t think some the examples in the article are genuine polymaths either. Just because a Nobel prize winner can play a few musical instruments or paint a bit, it doesn’t make her or him a polymath. It makes them something else, someone who draws on modest abilities in other fields to feed their main specialism.

This idea, that today the polymath is to all intents and purposes a myth, and possibly an unhelpful one, is one of several topics I touch on in a book I’ve written over the course of the last few years, and which is currently being designed and laid out by a proper professional.

The article’s worth having a look at. And hopefully, the book too.

 

We’re generally on the receiving end of irony. Things that end up being ironic are almost always not in our favour. Irony in business is the same. Commerce tends not to like irony. It likes to deal in good fortune and certainty where possible.

Towards the end of 2017 I finished the final draft of a book I’ve written on how we should deal with our lot in life and leisure if we’re generalists rather than specialists. People who can do a few things well, but are not standout in any one thing.

Since the end of 2017 I’ve been trying to find a agent to take on my project, get behind it and find a publishing deal. In other words, I’ve been trying to persuade a number of specialists that a book written about generalists is a worthwhile project.

The irony of this task is not lost on me. In fact it’s a constant companion. ‘If you’re only pretty good at a few things, why should I, who am great at this thing, take on a project, and why should readers read something, that is probably only pretty good, pretty well written?’

I’m going on holiday shortly for a couple of weeks, which necessitates having at least half a dozen blog posts ‘in the can’. Notwithstanding these literary guardians at the gate, I might publish a few pages of my book as posts, to see if I get any kind of a reaction.

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.