March/April 2007 Living Now
In an age of specialists, how does someone become a successful generalist?
The business world is changing because the spiritual evolution of the planet is changing. Large corporations are downsizing, creating chaos and displacing thousands of workers in the process.
We short-change ourselves when we buy into the specialization model of business. Many of us know how to do more than one thing well. The labels are falling away. It's time to respect our humanity more and see past the uniforms, the college degree and the employment history.
I've been an entrepreneur for 15 years and started three businesses from scratch – no financing, no partners, not even a business plan. I would characterize these businesses as successful because they paid my bills and in one case, I didn't even have to put in a full 40-hour week.
Recently, I decided that I wanted to give up my independence and take a regular full-time job working for someone else. I wanted the freedom to let someone else take the responsibilities. I wanted to focus on my core competencies and not wear all of the hats.
I updated my resume. I spent several hours a day looking at listings online. I had first round interviews, and even a few second round interviews. With every listing, I could see that I was missing certain key qualifications. I didn't have a Bachelor's degree, I didn't know programming languages, I had no industry experience in many fields, I lacked agency experience, and I wasn't in my 20s anymore.
That's when I realized that I was going to have problems.
So I got the bright idea to make a list of all of the things that I had learned how to do, had experience doing, or had natural abilities in doing. The skill list, when finished, was two pages long.
What do you call yourself with this kind of wide-ranging skill set? I am not a handyman, but I can do most of the things that handymen do. I'm not a computer consultant, but I know three operating systems and operated my own web servers for three years. I'm a landscaper, but I'm not licensed anymore. How do I answer the common question, "What do you do for a living?"
I suddenly realized that, even though there were things on the list that weren't resume worthy, there was a substantial variety in my skills and abilities. And then a crazy idea came to me: Why not market the diversity?
I put a name to my skill set, and turned it into a business called Interstitial Services, which best explains what I do: Fill in the gaps.
Things have improved, and I now have incredible diversity in my work week. One day I'm raking leaves in someone's yard, the next day I'm doing mid-level consulting in information technologies and another day I’m having a session with someone for relationship counseling. It's all over the map, and completely unpredictable. I never know who is going to call or what is going to be offered.
But I can see that there is a trend here for everyone, not just me. It's time to let go of labels and expectations, and use my unique skills to serve others.
Patrick Béart is a long-time resident of Portland. He has considerable experience in product and service-based businesses, as well as metaphysical abilities, including strong clairsentience. Visit www.interstitialservices.com or call 503-516-2540.