[SoG] What is your Talent Stack?

The Talent Stack

Morning! Lets launch right in!

Of course, you know Dilbert? Here's a masterpiece...

- Dilbert by Scott Adams

This one came from the Dilbert Official Website.

So, Scott Adams, the creator of this iconic strip, in this post says, [qoute] The idea of a talent stack is that you can combine ordinary skills until you have enough of the right kind to be extraordinary. You don’t have to be the best in the world at any one thing. All you need to succeed is to be good at a number of skills that fit well together. [unquote]

So, what does this mean? What is a Talent Stack?
In simple language, your talent stack is a unique combination of commonplace skills that makes you unique. And what you do even rarer.

For example, Scott makes very average doodles, writes fairly ok and has some great understanding of how people behave in large companies. When you mash-up these three, you get Dilbert. In fact, he says, "When you add in my ordinary business skills, my strong work ethic, my risk tolerance, and my reasonably good sense of humor, I’m fairly unique. And in this case, that uniqueness has commercial value."

He gives the example of Donald Trump. Average politician. Great communicator. Great businessman (and thus knows dealmaking).

Think of Steve Jobs. Great persuasion skills, undying doggedness, and deep understanding of human behavior.

Harsha Bhoge. Management consultant, speaker, sports enthusiast.

What is common to all these?

  • A, they all have an eclectic mix of skills. And there is almost always a component of creativity (writing, speaking, persuasion, etc).

  • B, all of them have been at it for years!

So that!

Talent stack is also similar in idea to what James Altucher calls, ideas having sex. What can you create as a mashup of two unique things? He gives the example of GI Joe (output of American fandom for their soldiers and dolls).

He says, [quote] Hollywood pitches are all about mating ideas. Ditto for Silicon Valley pitches. Ditto for any pitch. Why can’t people say, “its like James Bond”. Because James Bond has already been done. But when you says “its like X +Y” then people all lean back and their beautiful imaginations begin to dance with your idea. What does it look like when you mate X and Y. Its IDEA PORNOGRAPHY! Its art. Its beauty. [unquote]

Thing is, thanks to these Talent Stacks (or ideas having sex), the world is rife will people who've been able to identify a unique talent stack and then use that to make an envious life for themselves! In some cases, they've been able to build companies like Apple, lead countries like the USA. And in some cases, they've been able to earn the FU Money (which essentially is the amount of money you need to not hold a steady job and yet live like a king'. I'd talk about it in some other SoG someday).

What types of skills does a Talent Stack have?
I think there are two types of skills that you MUST have in a talent stack.

A. Hard skills. I call these "line of work".
You know, writing, marketing, business, stock-picking, medical science, and other such things that you need to spend the mythical 10000 hours to hone. Or maybe just 20 hours.

B. Soft skills. I call these "ethic".
Things like work ethic, showing up, hustling, constant shipping, etc. I don't know how to develop these. I think I am blessed to have some of these.

While both are tough to acquire, I think the line of work is more visible and thus easier to get access to. You know, there are so many open-courses available online now! The ethic piece is often ignored and thus there is no formal training per se available around those. I am assuming these could be taught!

How do you develop your talent stack?
Well, the following steps...

1. Awareness. That what you do in life is unidimensional. And you would be obsolete in the times to come if you do NOT develop a talent stack. I don't mean to be a doomsday sayer. But that's the writing on the wall that is very very. evident! Things are changing faster than we can imagine!

2. Identify the hard skills that you already have. What is your line of work? What do you do to earn your living? That's your number 1 skill. What else do you think you can do that complements what you already know? What can you mash-it-up with to create more things?

3. Get to work. That simple!

Oh, and the higher (or deeper, depending on the way you look at it) your stack is, better it is for you!

If you need inspiration, look around you. Common folks are stacking their talent to get to at least 15 minutes of fame, if not a sustainable career. For example, are you the flight attendant that can also rap? Are you a traffic cop that can dance? Are you a doctor that can make people laugh while you treat them? Did you know enough about Maths and had access to a webcam and a doodle software? Congrats! You just invented Khan Academy! Look around and you'd find more ideas.

So, what does this mean, for you?
Like I said, if over the years you've remained pretty much in the same line of work and a lot of it is merely managerial (you do NOT create but just manage accounts, shuffle teams, send (or take) updates, coordinate among various people, ensure projects happen, etc), in the post-COVID world, you would find it extremely difficult to grow. You will HAVE to develop more talents and become that unique intersection that the world would pay for.

But... two things.

  • A. Creative. You know you'll HAVE to create. Write, speak, draw, sketch, paint, sing, even sell! Creative, by definition, is creating. Not consuming.

  • B. Consistent. Show up every day. Ship as often as you can. Let it compound (see SoG 38). I know, I know, you don't have the time. But then, do you want to be that one-hit-wonder?

That's about it!

Do tell me about your talent stack. I would love to know and introduce it to my community.

Oh, and thanks to BR and MK for the idea over at my Mastermind Group. If you do not have one, PLEASE go make one. I learn so much from interactions there! Read more about it on SoGs 14 and 15.

More reads on Talent Stack...

Other random thoughts
I don't have answers to these right now, but these questions / topics are related

  • How about the debate between Specialists and Jacks of all trades?

  • A string of Success (in one line, if you have had multiple stints and you've had reasonable success in those, odds are higher that the world would come together to make your even more successful in the next thing you do). Must do an SoG on this.

Finally, a PLUG!
I am started YET ANOTHER NEWSLETTER. I know I have too much time on my hands! This one is like a curated newsletter that has the best of things that I've read in the week gone by. This would include a wide range of topics but I promise it would be worth your time :) In case you'd like to subscribe to it, please lemme know by adding your name and email here.

That's about it for the week. Have a great weekend.

Oh, if you like this, please do share this with people that ought to read this!


PS: What is my talent stack?
I am not sure. I am still discovering. But I think I am average, if not better, with the following...

  • Line of Work: Writing, Marketing, Customer Behaviour, Trends

  • Ethic: Not sure right now.

So, whatever I do, will have to be on the intersection of these. I am still trying to learn. IF you know me well, help me identify :)

Tags: Talent Stack, Dilbert, Scott Adams, Knowledge-Economy

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