My World: A Personal Blog About Everything

Monday, March 31, 2008

Good at Everything Means Good at Nothing

I found in this article: http://countrystudies.us/india/101.htm the following statement:   "India's universities, university-level institutions, and colleges have produced more than 200,000 science and technology graduates per year since 1985." So what does this mean, it means that a typical person who has a great GPA, meaning that they were extremely well balanced, is going nowhere.  Bachelor's degrees are becoming no more useful than a high school diploma and Master's degrees mean barely more.  From a technology point of view things are clearer than ever.  Videotapes lasted about 20 years or so, then DVD's lasted about 6 years, now HD-DVD's are already on the way out.  5 years ago, 32MB of flash memory for my camera cost about $60, now $60 will get you 8GB... for non-techies that's thousands more pictures on one card.  Cassettes lasted say 20 years, CD players lasted at most 10 years, regular MP3 players lasted say 5 years and are already being replaced by video devices and on demand wireless content. What this goes to show is that in the tech world, knowing a little bit about everything will get you no where when expertise is needed ASAP on the spot, in real-time, and if you can't do it someone else will jump in. So is there still hope? Of course! There's always hope! I think the answer is to specialize, and I don't mean specialize in school.  For every star student there are thousands other, being the best at school isn't the answer.  You have to specialize at what you love on your OWN time, be an expert at what interests you, whether it's music, art, photography, cooking.  Becoming an expert is the first step to making an impact in the world.   The second step is to differentiate between a generalist and smart expert.  People will argue that to be a manager you have to have general knowledge, see the big picture and can't be an expert in a particular area.  These people are only covering up the fact that they can't become an expert themselves, for whatever reason.  I've seen first hand, or second hand, that the greatest, world-changing companies of our time were started by "smart" experts, who figured out that impact happens when experts from varying fields stumble upon each other and go from there.  That's the key!  The tough part is the "stumbling upon each other", which is why so few companies truly achieve the impact I'm talking about, and no a generalist recruiter isn't the answer, maybe you have to leave it to fate.   To come full circle, the person who knows everything, today knows nothing, it's impossible to know everything now adays, so anybody who claims to is really just covering up a lack of expertise themselves.  Become an expert in something you love and find experts who have NOTHING in common with you, together you will change the world! -Michael  

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