I See Too Many People Screwing Their Career With This One. I Hope YOU Are Not One of Them.

Mars Dorian warns you

by MarsDorian

 

Hello fellow digital crusader !

There’s one thing that’s bothering me lately, and I see it EVERYWHERE nowadays. I see it on Facebook accounts, Twitter profiles and about pages. I see it in email signatures and tweets. It’s making me want to vomit in my mouth, and it’s keeping YOU away from success.

What ?

It’s a terrible description that more and more people give themselves.

It goes like this:

I’m a writer / entrepreneur / traveler / consultant / designer and blogger.

Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

aaaaaaaaaang.

That’s the sound of shooting yourself in the foot.

 

You know what this tells me ? That YOU suck at each and everyone of them !

Why ?

It’s simple. Check out the most famous persons in ANY area – Michael Jackson in music, Shepard Fairey in street art or Seth Godin in marketing. Why do they ALL have in common ? They are ALL outstanding at what they do. Michael Jackson was a pop music god, Shepard Fairey is master at his street art style, and Seth Godin…well, he’s redefining the marketing world in ways it’s almost scary.

But you know what ? Seth Godin isn’t famous for drawing cool stuff, Shepard Fairey isn’t known for his exquisite dancing skills and Michael Jackson surely didn’t write the world’s most awesome marketing books.

They choose their own thing, that ONE thing that they could DOMINATE like no one else, and then spent COUNTLESS hours on perfecting their craft.

Unless you are a Vampire, you are going to in the near future. You SIMPLY don’t have the time to do so many different “jobs” in your life time !

If you are a writer / designer, and you put in a lot of time into your writings, your designing skills will suffer. If you are more into design, and you refine your visual skills like crazy your writing will suffer. There’s NOT enough time in the world to excel at both.

And the more “career” descriptions you have, the LESS time will you be able to spend on each one, which means that you will become MEDIOCRE at best, and mediocrity is for LOSERS.

The only reason why you choose to have so many options is because you are AFRAID you are scared SHITLESS.

You are afraid of choosing that one thing because you might fail, and then there’s no plan B.

But if you have many “career” descriptions, you think you are safe. This is what your angst-ridden brain will mumble: “my writing career doesn’t work out ? Well, I’m more of a designer. The designer thing doesn’t work out ? Well, I always wanted to travel the world anyways.”

See ? All of these are imaginary excuses that help you “switch” whenever it doesn’t work out in one path. This is the straight road to hell, because you end up doing 1000 things and mastering NONE of them.

(Hint: If you choose your “thing” and you completely dedicate yourself to it, you will find a way to make it work. If it’s a MUST, you will ALWAYS find a way)

I have talked to Clay Collins recently, and he told me that he wants to become the go-to-marketing guy in the online world. He’s crazily devoting himself to mastering it, and he’s slowly but surely building his digital empire around that thing – HIS thing.

Who would care if he sucked ASSES in dancing Zwinkerndes Smiley

What to do now

If you want to leave your mark on this universe, be BRUTALLY honest with yourself. Are you doing TOO many thing without putting all of your focus on ONE and making THAT your legacy ?

Are you a “something / something / something / something” ? Then STOP it. NOW. Stop abusing your precious life time.

Check your interests and passions, and ask:

Which one of them can I COMPLETELY dominate with my devotion ? Which thing will I become known for ?

FOCUS on that and treat everything else as a hobby. This is the only way to make an impact in your world.

Plz retweet and share this idea with your friends !

Join a community of Outstanders


In addition to my best content, you can also get my free comic branding guide and weekly, inspirational cartoons straight into your inbox:

  • http://letgoandflow.com David

    So true, whenever I see “writer / designer / coder / etc” in a description I immediately assume this person is just a blogger that has little experience in any of the fields they describe (including blogging!).

    Nobody is good at just one thing, e.g. Michael Jackson could sing, dance, and write music. He was, however, able to wrap all of his amazing talents into one definition or phrase – “amazing entertainer”. If you can’t wrap your skill set into a single definition, you will be seen as mediocre.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Hey David,

      You’re a right – it’s rather about focusing your energies on one career rather than one discipline. MJ was a kick-ass entertainer, dancer and singer, but he spent most of his time crafting his pop music career instead of pursuing another one.

      I believe hardcore FOCUS is the way to ultimate greatness.

      • Layla

        Hmm, what do you think of Cher then? Great singer/songwriter *AND* actress – no?

    • Layla

      Okay, singing and acting could both be under the ‘entertainment’ umbrella – ‘writer / entrepreneur / traveler / consultant / designer and blogger’ can all be under ‘blogger’ umbrella, but just ‘blogger’ doesn’t actually say if you’re also willing to help others with design or writing etc. or if you’re just blogging about food or something..

      Have you read about brain plasticity any? We change and our interests may change along the way too.. Learning how to market music can help you learn how to market eco projects or other things too.. Seeing the ‘big picture’ and what’s going on in different fields can help if specialists are going into ‘wrong directions’…
      If the internets crash (hopefully not!), what good would it be to be ‘only’ an ‘internet’ specialist and have all your biz and moneymaking opportunities online?
      Lots of people invested and lost A LOT in the stockmarket crash/es… Sometimes putting all eggs in one basket can be a ‘good’ thing, sometimes way riskier than not doing so…

      Oh, and I wouldn’t really put Michael Jackson or Einstein as a great example to anything.. Einstein was mean to his 1st wife and MJ had well, we know, some ‘issues’ at best.. (okay, Cher too I suppose.. but then again, who doesn’t?)

      Anyway, maybe having more interests might sometimes even be more… healthy?? hmm!
      Many doctors have artistic pursuits to ‘maintain sanity’ or relax from difficult job stress or such.. (and for some it’s not just a ‘hobby’ but more of a ‘sideline’, some have gallery exhibts and all..)

    • http://carolblackmusic.co.uk/ Wedding music – Gemma

      Hey David. I like the idea wrapping skill sets into a single definition. It reminds me of Al Ries’ Laws of Marketing. Becoming the definition. Good post and good comment.

  • Sal Greco

    Awesome Dorian,

    I feel you might have written this post after visiting my site… sometimes I feel that I wear too many hats. Mostly it is because so much inspires me I feel obligated to show love back to it…

    I like what David said below me… Being able to wrap things into a single definition… If I am a “dynamic producer,” then I am creating quality content, in any topic….

    I know my site does not target one specific group. It is not for fat loss, and it is not for making money online… I do not know it is a reflection of myself, and what I am learning to live an awesome life…

    Great piece Dorian!

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Hey Sal, yeah, David said a good thing. I don’t mean that you have to master only one thing, part rather ONE career. Michael Jackson was ASS-kicking in dancing, singing and entertaining – part ALL of that was part of his pop music career. I encourage you strongly to concentrate on your core thing – choosing your “niche” and then ABSOLUTELY dominating it instead of spreading your focus.

      I believe this is the only path to greatness, and it’s my way to go.

  • http://twitter.com/JesseOguns jesse oguntimehin

    granted, It can be a challenge and a thing to dread, deciding what to name the thing you’re doing. The escape route is to use writer/blogger/designer et’al in a bio.

    I like what you said Mars, that one should be madly good in a thing and regard the others as hobby. That would work for me as I am currently having lots of interest. Mobile and web technology, Digital Marketing and Photography.

    If I dedicate my time to one arm of it, which is the one That I want to dominate, I would drink it, sleep it and spend more time growing in it and hence maintain Focus.

    Thanks you Mars.

  • http://www.edgeofdavid.com/ David (Edge of David)

    This was a fun read and it’s dead on :)

    People put that on Twitter because they don’t know what else to put, or because they have no actually experience (like the other David said). Thats OK, it’s how everyone starts.

    My take, at least in regards to Twitter is to put the reason why anyone should pay attention to you. Like, I help people do x y and z, or I’m the co-founder of x, or NYT best selling author or whatever. Whats your selling point? Who are you?

    Yes I’m a writer and blogger, but thats my medium not my message. Yes I like tea, asian girls, traveling, and snowboarding, but again that may help you connect with me personally, but it’s not the reason why you should pay attention.

  • http://twitter.com/nomadicchick Jeannie

    Ugh. I see those very descriptions on people’s Twitter bios. Mine is guilty of two, but I actually try do those things to the fullest. Lately I’ve seen lists that leave my head spinning… blogger/gardener/beer lover/expat/cookie eater… My eyes water reading that much information.

    Your post makes sense. People get confused at what this person does exactly. It’s best to choose a core job/choice and kick arse at it.

  • http://almostbohemian.com David

    BRB! I am off to edit my twitter profile and about.me

    You’re absolutely right on this one!

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Haha, luv it that you take IMMEDIATE action.

      DO what feels right you ;)

  • http://twitter.com/brandonavance brandon avance

    Guilty. Crap.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Nothing to be ashamed of, Brandon ;)

      But if you want to do your THING, you should start finding it ;)

  • Anonymous

    I did that for awhile. While I’m still not totally impress by what I say about myself, I think I’m getting better. I just turned in a short bio for a guest post that said, I’m the leader of The Creativity Rebellion, teaching people to fist pump like Billy Idol and kicking zombee ass.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      But what’s your one thing – being creative and teaching people or kicking Zombie ass ;) ??

      • Anonymous

        They are so closely entwined, maybe I need one word that contains them all.

  • http://twitter.com/krenee76 Kiesha

    I’m guilty of those something/something/and something descriptions. However, as David mentions below, those somethings are related and the revolve around writing. I’m a blogger, who is a writer by nature, I’m an editor because those posts don’t polish themselves, and when necessary I show people how to do those things and somehow that ends up with the multi-title you’ve warned against. :)

    I agree with you, though – that one thing that I’ve poured my all into is writing – but it’s crazy how easy it is to get sidetracked.

    Thanks for this this thought-provoking post that is helping me put things into perspective.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Hey Kiesha, my pleasure.
      And if everything you do revolves around writing in one way or another – you are good to go. It’s impossible in today’s world to rely only one skill – the post is rather about finding and dominating your ONE thing in terms of career and destiny.

  • Black Seo Guy

    Man this is the truth..I know lots of people who wear many hats and just works themselves to death because they focus on too many careers..

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Hey Antonio,

      yep, that’s pretty much like shooting yourself in the foot.

  • http://personaldevelopmentx.com/ Max Bronson

    Very well said, Mars!

    I think if someone want to cover their butt they could say “I’m an entrepreneur who blogs at “xyz website”. That’s enough. Of course you could add a colourful adjective in their if you wanted.

  • http://raamdev.com Raam Dev

    I wholeheartedly DISAGREE.

    “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.” – Robert A. Heinlein

    Labels like writer/designer/hiker are just roadsigns to give others insight into who you are as a human being. It helps steer away people who have absolutely no interest in connecting with you and those who would love to learn more.

    When I see someone who’s a techie/athlete/painter, I’m intrigued to know more because I consider myself a techie/athlete but not a painter. I’d want to know how this person combines painting with the two things I’m passionate about. If all they said was “I’m a techie”, where’s the roadmap? Where’s the sense of uniqueness?

    If you want to make an impact and change the world, then you need to stop saying you’re going to make an impact and change the world. You need to be YOU, live the change you wish to see, and stop looking for an easy way out.

    If you want to become the next Michael Jackson, then yes, you need to specialize. If you want to become the next Mahatma Ghandi or Mother Teresa or Albert Einstein or Leonardo Da Vinci and really make a difference in the world, then stop trying and start BEING. If that means you have a dozen passionate interests, go with every single one of them.

    In the end it doesn’t matter what you “dominated”. You’ll be forgotten and your flesh and bones will return to dust, just like the millions and billions of people before us. We need to be thinking forward, thinking about who we are as a human being and what we will leave behind when we’re gone, not competing with each other to be the “best” in some specific thing.

    • http://letgoandflow.com David

      You don’t think Michael Jackson changed the world? Of course he did.

      Nobody is saying you can’t have multiple skill sets, hes just saying the majority people are turned off when you see techie/athlete/painter. You could be amazing at all three, but when I see that combo I think techie/wannabe athlete/shitty painter

      • http://puttylike.com/ Emilie Wapnick

        This says more about stigmas in society than anything else. That idea that you need to specialize in order to be successful is completely socially-constructed. Back in Renaissance times, people were encouraged to develop their potential in as many different disciplines as possible. It was considered the ideal in fact:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polymath

      • http://nathanhangen.com/blog Nathan Hangen

        and that’s why you stop worrying about what other people think and start living a life according to what you want to do.

        I see Mars’ point, and I’ve had an influx of people say variations of this to me in the past, but the reality is that a focused life is incredibly unfulfilling for me.

        That being said, if you want to do a lot of things, I recommend intense periods of focus, rather than trying to pick up or do everything at once. This is what I did with triathlon, playing guitar, and learning web design/development.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Hey Raam,

      I get what you’re saying – and it doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to ONE skill ( that is impossible in today’s world!)
      But what I say is that you should FOCUS on one career – instead of watering down your focus and shooting aimlessly into too many directions.
      And it’s not about trying or being – it’s about DOING – failing, adjusting, failing and adjusting.
      It’s not an easy way out (but choosing many different paths is !) – it’s complete dedication to your destiny !

      • http://raamdev.com Raam Dev

        Forcing ourselves to focus on one career is extremely limiting. I agree that we need to focus, but I think we should be focusing on whatever it is we are doing in the moment. We shouldn’t do things half-assed, but rather dedicate ourselves fully to whatever task is at hand (that may be as simple as crossing the street or as challenging as becoming an astronaut).

        I think we’re both in agreement here, but perhaps semantics are getting in the way.

        Choosing many paths is different than being open to many paths. If we choose a path and then discover it’s not the right one, refusing to get off that path just because “we need to focus 100% on our path/career/job” is the wrong attitude and that greatly limits our potential.

        Many of us will only reach our full potential by dabbling in many fields and picking up bits and pieces from various places to build and become the person we’re meant to be.

        We need to remain focused in whatever we’re doing, but limiting ourselves is much different than staying focused.

      • http://joelrunyon.com/two3 Joel Runyon | [BIT]

        What about focusing on one THEME instead of one specific action.

        I focus on doing the impossible, taking on challenges, and stretching myself to my limits. That includes a wide variety of actual different activities, but it’s all pulled up under one umbrella.

        This allows me to feed my ADD & still take things through to completion.

      • Anonymous

        This whole “world domination” thing is fun, Mars. Just keep in mind,

        `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
        Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
        Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
        Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
        The lone and level sands stretch far away”
        –Shelley

        “There is nothing new under the sun”
        –Qoholeth

        “Nothing gold can stay”
        –Frost

        For me destiny = a path to greatest love capacity. Call it selfish, but it makes me damned happy. The rest is froth. Frosting. “Chasing after the window.”

        If you have the time, I’d love to know what you mean by “world domination” (I imagine it’s not in the lines of Trump, Pot, or Stalin). What are your values?

        Best,
        Mark

        • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

          Hey Mark,

          WD means that you impact the world awesomely with your one “thing” – your gift to the world – your career legacy – your passion – however you want to call that !!

  • http://puttylike.com/ Emilie Wapnick

    Hey Mars,

    I gotta say, I think you’re confusing medium (i.e. specific skills) with message here. Seth Godin’s message is focused around marketing, yes. But he does EVERYTHING: Writing, speaking, marketing, consulting, entrepreneurship… He even has this part in one of his books where he describes a time he had a near panic attack trying to choose one “occupation” to list on a customs form: http://ow.ly/4y0FX

    You can have many skills and still have 1 cohesive message. But maybe you’re talking more about public presentation here too. Do you tie your identity to a particular skill (“I’m an SEO specialist”) or a MESSAGE (“The world needs you” ;)? I think the latter is a much stronger approach.

    Also, Michael Martine of Remarkablogger makes a really strong point about how having many different talents might just be what a blogger needs these days to stand out: http://remarkablogger.com/2011/01/14/renaissance-person-2-0/

  • http://www.silveredcopy.com/ Patrick

    I’m with Mars here, specialisation doesn’t close doors – it opens them. The more you specialise, the faster you progress. That then opens other doors in other areas because people respect success.

    It’s also better to show your skills, not tell people about them. For example, I don’t call myself a typographer, even though I know a lot about it. I just show people through handcrafted layouts. :)

    • Kate

      That is not always true. Certainly in the industry I work in it has done me well to be flexible and develop a range of skills. Specialising too much means that you close off options for yourself and shut yourself down to potential opportunities.

  • http://www.naijapreneur.com Tito Philips, Jnr.

    I have been an advocate of this Mars, I just don’t think people are getting it yet and I am glad you are screaming about it here. The truth is that there is so much one person can do, the most effective way therefore is to focus on what you do best. The great Einstein once said something like this, “I am considered a genius because I am the guy who stays on the problem longer by focusing on one thing at a time”.

    Perhaps the long and short is this;

    F- ollow
    O- one
    C- ourse
    U- ntil
    S- ucceed

    Thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      wow man, I luv the acronym, that is SOO cool.
      FOCUS is everything in my life. Without out, you are NOTHING !
      Thanx for sharing that kick-ass message !

      • Anonymous

        Careful w/your rhetoric, Mars. My friend’s paraplegic wife can’t focus. is NOTHING? You have some great points, but it’s starting to sound like a resounding gong–full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

        • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

          I have extreme views – always did – and I always speak from my personal experiences. I have lost my focus in the past and it was devastating. If you want to build something significant, you have to focus. Spreading it will get you nowhere.

          • Anonymous

            Fair enough…I wonder if telling parts of this story. I, for one, would love to know “how you found focus.”

            The other rhetoric can be galvanizing. Most people I work with want stories, not sermons.

            Best of luck w/your new project,
            M

  • http://alexiapetrakos.com Alexia

    Hey Mars,
    I get what you’re saying, and I also see how this can be misinterpreted. As a multi-faceted individual, being good at a lot of things is a point of pride and suffering for me. I love all I do, but I couldn’t get my act together and figure out what I wanted to be.

    It’s only when I found the underlying theme across all those slashes I was putting out there that I was able to encompass it all into one career.

    I used to be a techie/artist/writer/creative instigator, well, technically I still am ;) but now I’m an Expedition Leader for Creative Explorers, helping folks just like me (scanners, renaissance souls..) who have so many things they’re good at, who can’t settle on just one thing, get their creative genius out into the world.

    It’s not a matter of just picking one thing. I’d probably die of boredom if I had to pick one of the things I do for the rest of my life. It’s a matter of finding your core and everything falls into place around it.

    • http://twitter.com/a_creative_life Melissa Dinwiddie

      Bingo!

      As a slasher myself, I let my work speak for itself. If someone thinks it sucks, they’re entitled to their opinion. There are plenty of others who disagree, as my email box attests, and I bust my butt to master my various different gifts.

      What is most powerful, though, is when you can find the underlying theme, just as you said, Alexia.

      I’m an artist/singer/songwriter/writer/blogger/creative catalyst, but underlying all of it is a persistent theme of Creative Abundance, and though the modes of expression may vary, THAT’s what I’m ultimately all about.

      (At least today. Talk to me 6 months from now. ;))

  • http://twitter.com/calebwojcik Caleb Wojcik

    I like to wrap my many talents and topics that I write about into one simple title, “World Changer”. How I change the world will change through out my life, but that is the single goal that I am focused on accomplishing.

    You can be focused on only one task at a time. Make your life have the same amount of focus.

    Thanks Mars.

  • http://remarkablogger.com Michael Martine

    The thing is not to pick one thing as you suggest, but to put more thought into the overall theme of all that you do and describe it better.

    I don’t need to say I’m a copywriter/blogger/designer/SEO/marketer/strategist. I say I’m a Blog Consultant, which seems like one thing but isn’t. If you think about it, you’ll see how I just solved a marketing/branding/SEO problem all in one stroke. Google “blog consulting” and you’ll see.

    Clients need a “handle” by which to understand you and their own problems. It’s a naming problem. In no way does it mean what you suggest: that we abandon other disciplines which we may in fact be better at than most people. That is astonishingly mistaken, in my opinion.

    However, it’s somewhat understandable. People who should only focus on one thing often fail to understand that multipotentialites or polymaths (pick your term) excel at multiple disciplines to the extent most people can only excel at one.

    I think you would have been better off bringing this idea up as a question rather than as a polemic.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Hey Michael,

      I don’t mean to only focus on one skill, but to focus on your ONE career – your legacy.
      I do coding, design, writing, drawing and designing, but it’s all part of what I call creative entrepreneurship. You are a blog consultant, and you focus on marketing / branding / SEO / – but it’s ALL part of being a blog consultant. But you DON’T focus on building a TV career or singer/songwriter career at the same time – you are doing your ONE thing.

      This post refers to the people who are pursuing many different careers at the same time, spreading their focus too thin and mastering NONE.

      • http://remarkablogger.com Michael Martine

        Hey Mars, thanks for your response, and I get what you’re saying. All my
        stuff definitely belongs in the same “family,” and if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t
        work to try to do them all.

  • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

    Hey Mars, I think what you have created here is confusion (and maybe offended a couple of folks). You are talking about two different things, one is what you actually do in life (whether you follow your passion or not) and the other is how you describe yourself in front of people (your audience or market).

    I wanna think that what makes you vomit in your mouth is people not knowing how to describe themselves because if you really think all MJ did was sing then you are wrong. This is exactly where employees and entrepreneurs are created and it starts in our schools systems, kids are told to learn one thing and get really good at it so they can be good citizens and climb the corporate ladder.

    You can learn how to cook and work at an awesome restaurant or you can learn how to run a business, market it and have the freedom to turn your own vision into whatever the fuck you want, like MJ, Godin or Fairey have done.

    I have a friend that runs a very popular and expensive hair salon which he designed, built, created the marketing strategy, he takes care of his PR and is featured in several magazines, decorated the shop, hired amazing talent, he mixes the music he plays in the salon during business hours, he designed the website and he’s a very successful entrepreneur. The guy is a super creative dude that’s capable of doing all this and more, but most people don’t know all that, most people know him as a kick-ass stylist and wait for weeks to get an appointment with him.

    Entrepreneurs do way more than what you know them for, the mistake is how you represent yourself out there. What happens with this post is that you either have never been an entrepreneur or you miscommunicated your message.

    I wanna be BRUTALLY HONEST and say that the last thing I wanna be in this life is a specialist. I do many things in my business, I don’t only love one thing. I have the opportunity to do crazy stuff I’ve never done before. I’m about to jump on a plane to Chile to produce video, something I’ve successfully done twice in my life but I have no intention to call myself a producer, even tough I’m getting paid.

    At least leave the door open. Don’t limit yourself that way.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Hey Francisco, I lot of people got this post wrong (or I wasn’t clear enough).

      I don’t say you only have to master ONE skill – that would be desastrous in today’s world.
      What I mean is that you focus on your “thing” – the description you want get KNOWN for.
      I design, write, code and draw – but all those skills are part of what I call creative entrepreneurship – my “thing”.

      • http://www.socialmouths.com Francisco Rosales

        I think people use their short bios (“designer/writer/blogger/coffee lover”) as a way of describing themselves, not necessarily their profession. I’m a blogger but that doesn’t mean I blog for a living.

        People like Shepard Fairey don’t get known for the way they describe themselves but for dropping awesome sauce consistently. He’s famous for his art but he’s also a great marketer, sales person and a lot of other things you don’t see, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t do those things. Let’s cut the BS.

        Now, if you are talking about displaying key messages so people that come across your website or Twitter profile can understand exactly what you do in a split second, then I agree with you. This is fucking marketing, let’s call it what it is. Now from that point of view, you’re too broad when you say something like “creative entrepreneur”, I can interpret that in so many ways that your description gets lost.

        It’s all good, I appreciate your strong opinions and will continue to agree or disagree with you. =)

        • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

          I had to use the term creative entrepreneur because I don’t want to reveal my new blog theme yet – ( my “thing” = legacy project ).

  • http://lynnfang.com Lynn Fang

    Hi Mars,

    I understand where you’re coming from – excel in one thing rather than be mediocre in several. But I think your view is short-sighted. There is no reason a polymath cannot excel at all her interests enough to create careers out of all of them.

    Take Benjamin Franklin. He was a Founding Father who started our country, a political statesmen. And yet he was also a scientist, inventor, and writer who contributed numerous inventions to improve our understanding of weather patterns, electricity, and even invented bifocal glasses. Or Leonardo DaVinci. He was a successful painter, sculptor, architect, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, geologist, botanist, and writer. He excelled at all of them and is still well known for both his paintings and his mechanical inventions. There are many such people throughout our history. They may seem like gods, but so do Michael Jackson and Shepard Fairy.

    I’m sure Michael Jackson made a great impact on the world and uplifted many millions of people. Is his work of lesser import than Ben Franklin’s? You can’t really compare them. They are equally important people, who hold significance to people in different ways. I think it is the systems thinking polymaths that will truly change the world, because they can see the big picture, how all the little interlocking pieces fit together to create the world. They can see what makes the world go round, and step in to make a difference.

    I don’t mean to brag, but I excel at both writing and science. I also have a knack for design that could be used professionally, should I choose. I am skilled at all three, but I can’t do all of them at the same time. I feel, what makes me unique and powerful, is the combination of interests and skills that I let my heart embrace. I plan to see each of these fields bear fruit one day. On Scott Young’s blog, he teaches something called Holistic Learning, which is making connections between seemingly unrelated fields. If you did not open yourself to other fields of inquiry, you could miss out on valuable connections.

    It’s true that if I focus on writing, my design will suffer. But at some point I will get bored, or tired, of focusing solely on writing, and that is when my design will bounce back. It’s simply a matter of time, as my focus cycles through my various interests.

    My legacy will be to have lived my life as fully and richly as possible, while contributing as much value as I can to the world. As Austin Kleon says, keep your side projects. “it’s the side projects that blow up.” http://www.austinkleon.com/2011/03/30/how-to-steal-like-an-artist-and-9-other-things-nobody-told-me/

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Hey Lynn,

      thanx for your take – I appreciate it. And I don’t mean to focus on one skill, but rather your “one” career – the thing you want people to spread about you.
      Leornardo was a once in a kind human, (and btw – he started A LOT but barely finished anything !) , so you don’t want to use him as an inspiration.

      I truly believe that the best way to make an impact is to build your one career, and that can involve many different skill sets (and the combos you mentioned) But I doubt you can build anything significant if dabble in too many waters.

      • http://lynnfang.com Lynn Fang

        I think Ben Franklin is on par with Leonardo da Vinci, in terms of how many things they were proficient at. Leonardo didn’t finish a lot of things, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t finish ANYTHING. While da Vinci is best known as a painter, he was in service to the Duke of Milan as an engineer and designed everything from buildings to military tanks and catapults. Though his notebooks are filled with unfinished projects, they were well thought out ideas that later scientists were able to expand upon or use to help them form new thoeries. So his unfinished projects are not a lost cause by any means. http://www.engineering.com/Library/ArticlesPage/tabid/85/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/34/Leonardo-da-Vinci.aspx

        I think it’s entirely possible for people today to be like Leonardo da Vinci. We are simply not encouraged to follow through with our intellectual inquiries, and instead are encouraged to spend our time watching TV, frequenting bars, and getting lost in relationship drama.

        I also think you must have confused the language, since one career encompasses a variety of skills.

      • http://raamdev.com Raam Dev

        Hey Mars,

        Knowing when to stop working on a project is extremely important. (Seth Godin talks a lot about this in his book, “The Dip”.)

        Knowing when to quit is just as important as knowing when to dig in and keep going All great inventors and pioneers have an endless trail of failures and unfinished projects behind them.

        • http://www.edgeofdavid.com/ David (Edge of David)

          Exactly, never give in on your goals, but if something is not working either quit or change your methodology to make it work

  • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

    Hey Emilie,

    this post causes a lot of confusion. I don’t mean focusing on one skill – that is DESASTROUS in today’s time ( I do programming ,designing, drawing, writing and consulting – but it’s all part of my creative entrepreneurship ). The message and actions are clear, and I am not pursuing a career that has NOTHING to do with my creative entrepreneurship.

    Focus on your “one” career – and that can contain DIVERSE skills !

    • http://puttylike.com/ Emilie Wapnick

      Yeah, I still disagree. I think you can have more than one “careers”, either at the same time or sequentially.

    • http://twitter.com/ambermira Amber Mira

      Mars – Then please define “career” as you mean it. What exactly is your idea of a career that has nothing to do with “creative entrepreneurship?” I could say I train monkeys, and run a sky-diving tour company and that could still fit the realm of “creative entrepreneurship.”

  • Patrick

    The problem comes down to how you’re going to cut through the noise, if you’re a generalist.

    It’s all very well to want to do lots of things, but you must be aware that every person is bombarded with thousands upon thousands of messages a day, and this is only increasing.

    Either way you must have a plan to cut through this noise, and being a specialist is one of the most effective. It’s why I mentioned I don’t want to be known as a typographer. I’ve certainly put a lot of effort into those skills, but I’d prefer to use them to sharpen my edge as a legal copywriter, rather than consult with people on blog typography.

    We can’t assume that anyone is actually paying attention to us – that’s where many people go wrong I believe.

    • http://remarkablogger.com Michael Martine

      In online business, what this represents is an SEO problem. People have to find you. How? This more than anything makes a lot of what Mars is saying correct (giving him the benefit of the doubt when he repeatedly says people have misunderstood his words and that he didn’t clearly communicate his meaning). If people can’t find you because you have a diluted search profile, well, good luck with that. Being known for one thing over all others (even when you can do other things well) helps people find you more easily.

      • http://twitter.com/a_creative_life Melissa Dinwiddie

        THAT, Michael, is the biggest problem with being a slasher. And in fact, THAT is why people become slashers in the first place!

        Search engines (or decades ago, card catalogues) don’t know what to do with a title like “Creative Goddess and Guide” or “Spreader of Creative Abundance” or “World Changer” or whatever.

        At least when you’ve got the slashes you can explain what you do/who you are/who you help (there I go with slashes again!) in a way that robots can understand.

  • http://www.ideasbubble.com Peter Joseph

    I’ve got to love how everyone’s talking about this post :)
    Read Emilie’s post? http://puttylike.com/slashers-unite/
    I think it’s one of the catches though in blogging, because not only can you be a writer, you can also design your blog, call yourself an marketing specialist because you respond to comments and the lot. In the end though, whatever you call yourself, your not going to show your self a client if you don’t give solid evidence as to why you should be hired – so it doesn’t matter.

    • http://www.marsdorian.com/ Mars Dorian

      Yeah, read and commented on it, Peter.
      And what I mean is – you can have many different skill sets (writing, drawing, marketing,coding), but you must combine them to your one “thing” – your DIY career that you want to get known for.

  • http://byronsbike.com Byron F aka Byronious

    Its funny reading some of the comments here – my I suggest Rule #62: Don’t take yourself too damn seriously! Geeezzz… its amazingly lame how much tripping and nit-picking going on here.

  • Anonymous

    Way to face the detractors Mars…clearly you stirred a pot and made people with different views affirm their modus operandi. I suppose your “ass-kick” aesthetic is a way to get people moving. Your deeper voice is human/loving/severe/awakening/terse/tough/to-the-poing (sorry to use the slash, but it does fit your writing).

    Best,
    M

  • Layla

    Well, I actually agree with some of the views expressed here: that you do need some focus and some ‘limit’ as to what you do… And that sometimes ‘rotating’ to another interest can be a form of ‘escape’ (or sanity-maintaining procedure:)

    There can be dangers in both ‘specialist’ or ‘scanner/polymath/multipotentialite’ approach.. when it comes to labelling oneself and one’s biz/service, and when it comes to actually doing things..

    I personally have experienced ‘lack of focus’ problems too, and ‘spreading oneself too thin’ or into ‘too many directions’ – it’s sometimes humanly impossible to do it ALL – so some time management and project management and overwhelm management skills are essential!!
    And yeah, I’d love to read more about your experience on what got you more focused and how too! :)

    Even if you choose one ‘career’ you can spread yourself too thin – there are lots of CEOs who don’t know how to delegate etc. Even if you choose one field and one skill, you can still ‘overextend’ yourself (by doing too much of ‘the same thing’ or too much overtime or badly designed company systems etc too..)

    The word ‘legacy’ can be problematic too, yup. for example, you may wish to have one thing as your legacy, but people can remember you after completely different things!! Or it may turn out to not be really possible to do it the way you imagined it to be etc. So the wise thing then would be to choose something new, no?

    I think this post and comments are a great learning opportunity for many people…

    Myself, I kinda like people who describe themselves with many interesting things in their Twitter bio or blog ‘About’ section – because I’m a person with multiple interests too and it’s interesting to connect with like-minded and see how they balance their interests and it’s great to see if we resonate in any of them or if there are things I know nothing about and can learn from them.

    ‘Creative entrepreneur’ is great, but it can be anything from teaching poodles how to dance to comic book writer or …. (?) Imagine all these people now writing ‘Creative entrepreneur’ (hm?)
    The idea is to find a creative way to stand out – I can see how too many people writing the same thing could bother any creative person.. (I get bored with too much repetition too..:)
    Does that mean the market would be getting saturated? There *are* an awful lot of ‘Lifestyle Design’ or ‘Make money online’ sites and blogs and experts or ‘experts’ hmm..
    The Bible already said, ‘You shall see them by their results’… no? ;)

    I commented more on puttylike.com if you want to take a look there hehe..

    I think it’s a great discussion, isn’t it?;) And made me find your blog again:)

  • http://www.holyblasphemy.net Derek Murphy

    Great post – well received, but I’m going to disagree. I’m a writer and a painter – and I do a lot of other things. Writing and painting are two totally different ways to express myself, and I’m pretty damn good at both. It’ll take me longer, it’s true, to “dominate”: if I want to be “successful” I should focus on one at a time. But that’s not how I roll. I don’t want to choose Chinese or Japanese. I’m going to learn them both – not fluently, but enough to make friends and share new experiences.

    • http://twitter.com/a_creative_life Melissa Dinwiddie

      Exactly, Derek. I’m an artist and a writer and a singer and a songwriter. (Among other things.) And damn good at all of them. And yes, some of them are actually big elements in my overall career, while others are “side careers” by choice.

      All of my various skills DO interweave and overlap in certain ways, but they’re totally different ways to express myself.

      And yes, it’s true if I concentrated on one of them to the exclusion of the others I could (theoretically, at least) achieve a higher level of mastery, or “dominance.”

      BUT… Would I be happy? Personally, I’m not wired to focus on one thing and one thing only. I’d go totally insane.

      I know that’s not actually what Mars is suggesting in this post. But I still stand by slashing as a valid way to be.

      To each her own.

  • http://www.dudeman.biz Dudeman

    Mars, you bring up a great point my friend. Being a jack of all trades has it’s uses when you’re young, and trying to find out what you’re good at. But there comes a time you have to develop a sort of tunnel vision and focus on one or maybe two things and fucking shine on those. Once you start to really shine at something, then you can start working at something else that’s probably a spin off from your career/profession. Then repeat the process.

Previous post:

Next post: