Email: Starting 1st MNC job after college. Not a specialist. Will I succeed? (US)

Congrats. Here’s a humble perspective. The surprising part about Roger Federer’s greatness – as a kid he didn’t focus on tennis. Played a range of different sports – skateboarding, swimming, soccer, badminton. Recommend an interesting book – Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World. Sports journalist David Epstein uses Roger’s experience as an example of the under-appreciated benefits of delaying specialisation to accumulate a breadth of unique experiences. “In a world that increasingly incentivises, even demands, hyper-specialisation, we need more Rogers. People who start broad, embrace diverse experiences & perspectives while they progress.”

Range – Amazon

Provides a good framework for understanding why polymaths are so important for innovation. In kind environments, where the goal is to re-create prior performance with as little deviation as possible, teams of specialists work superbly. But when it’s a challenging environment, our job isn’t always to repeat a procedure. By definition, it’s to do something not done before.

When researchers study great innovators, they find systems thinkers with an ability to connect disparate pieces of information from many sources, like having a lot of apps open in one’s brain at the same time. So, we need a healthy balance of both frogs & birds to succeed in a work environment. Book shares inspiring analogies & intriguing anecdotes.


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