Career advice from another cartoonist? Yep! Scott Adams does the Dilbert comic. As a kid, I remember reading those and thinking they were just OK. And then I entered Cubicle Nation, and I’m now embarrassed to admit how funny I find ’em. I wish I could go back to my younger self and say, among other things, “Yo, hi, it’s me, you. I know, in the future, you rock. I’m not that good with time travelling, my flux capacitor prototype isn’t stable, so while I’m here, get this… You’ll lose the braces, you’ll get those Dilbert comics, and you will lose your virginity, but that’s not until you’re – ”
In a 2007 blog post, Adams gives what I think is some pretty simple and genius life advice. When given the following two options:
- Become the best at one specific thing.
- Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.
Look behind door number 2.
I like how he says it:
The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it.
Unabashedly lifting from his writing again:
Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more “pretty goods” until no one else has your mix.
So here we have a formula for combining your skills (ability), your passions (desire), which count because if you’re really into something then it’s easier to focus and put in the time to get good at it, and marketability to some degree (value), which derives from the uniqueness of your personal combo of what you’re “pretty good” at.
You’ve been on this planet for a little while already, so you’ve been able to get into things. What three things would you call yourself pretty good at?