Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More on Being a Hammer

From Penelope Trunk's Brazen Careerist comes another post on being better at self-promotion. She also dives into why it is important to be an expert in whatever it is that you do. Differentiate yourself. Own a niche.

Back in November, she had a great post about taking the risk of specializing. She talked about being a typecast Hollywood actor. Are you the guy in the PG movie that everyone is rooting for to get the girl? Or are you the guy in the rated R movie that no one is quite sure about yet? (Sorry, reminded me of one of my favorite movies.)

I've been debating this subject with myself since October 2005. My friend Harry Joiner from Marketing Headhunter gave me the save advice. Be a hammer. Specialize. I've been slow to adopt. For the longest time I have held on to the idea that I LIKE being a jack of all trades. I LIKE being good (just "good") at a variety of things.

I am starting to see where being the utility infielder is not such a good thing. It is hard to find a roster spot for the utility player. Especially towards the end of the season. If you are going into the playoffs, you will know what your weaknesses are and will trade to bolster them.

I'm in this jack of all trades role now. I don't have a job description. The position on the piece of paper they handed me during the interview process quickly dissolved as the goals of the business rapidly changed. The business had new needs. My manager had different goals and needs. I could fill those. Start up a new call center? You bet. Been there. Done it. I'm your man. Then the business needs shifted again. Need someone that can teach themselves how to run a next-generation switch from Aspect? I'm in. Send me to a training class for a week, give me the manuals and let me at it. Then...manage a telemarketing vendor? Hey! I WAS a telemarketing vendor.

Now...like I said, I am beginning to understand Harry and Penelope. Be a hammer. Specialize. Make sure people know the ONE THING you are good at - too many options CONFUSE people. They get to a place where they don't know exactly how to fit you - the round peg - into their square box. I'm learning.

1 comment:

penelope said...

Hi, Mike. I really like your post because you give great examples of moments when we can decide to be a specialist. And it’s always so hard. Because someone says “can you do this for me?” and it feels better, in some ways, to say yes than no. It feels good to be able to do whatever is thrown in front of us. But in the long run, of course, it doesn’t get us much.

Penelope