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Old 08-21-2013, 04:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Jack of all trades versus specialization

So I was rereading Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations and I found this passage about the division of labour and I was thinking that it might be a good idea to start a thread with the pros and cons of each of them, and which one would be a better strategy in our days and why.

“In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part ofthose who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confinedto a few very simple operations; frequently to one or two. But the understandings ofthe greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. Theman whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which theeffects too are, perhaps, always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion toexert his understanding, or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients forremoving difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit ofsuch exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for ahuman creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him, not only incapableof relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving anygenerous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgmentconcerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensiveinterests of his country, he is altogether incapable of judging; and unless veryparticular pains have been taken to render him otherwise, he is equally incapable ofdefending his country in war. The uniformity of his stationary life naturallycorrupts the courage of his mind, and makes him regard with abhorrence the irregular,uncertain, and adventurous life of a soldier. It corrupts even the activity of his body,and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance, inany other employment than that to which he has been bred. His dexterity at his ownparticular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expence of his intellectual,social, and martial virtues. But in every improved and civilized society this is the stateinto which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarilyfall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.
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I think it may have got de-indexed....oh well - shouldn't have outed the domain name I guess.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've always tried to be a jack of all trades, especially concerning my own sites/businesses/whatever - I've always been a DIY guy.

I think I'm old enough, now though, to say that specialization is more valuable than being mediocre and a plethora of skills.
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Old 08-21-2013, 08:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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prob best to be both.

i.e. I know a shit ton about the web. From setting up servers, designing websites, programming scripts, email, seo, media buys, a/b testing, etc

However, I specialize in PPC and ecommerce topics. Knowing the other "stuff" that I am not specialized in helps in my specialization though.
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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prob best to be both.

i.e. I know a shit ton about the web. From setting up servers, designing websites, programming scripts, email, seo, media buys, a/b testing, etc
This.

I find that I am a jack of all trades, only by interests and needs, like eliquid above, and it's been worth the extra time so far in my opinion.

One of my recent clients, who, works in a tech-savvy sector of consulting, coined me as "the spread", in which even if I can't do it myself, I have the resources and knowledge available to successfully get the job done.

Which to him, verifies his choice in working with me over an agency.
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I came to this thread hoping to have found another fan of Jack of All Trades.


Sadly, OP is on about more nonsense rather than this awesome show.
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:31 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I call it a "skeillset" bigger the skill set more chance of survival. If one person only does 1 thing, they are not worth shit. AKA most of the current work force. Hiring is so tough right now. Specially college kids. Fucking idiots.
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Old 08-21-2013, 09:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Mix of both. But honestly picking a specialty has opened more doors for a lot more money for me.
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Old 08-21-2013, 10:16 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You need to be a jack of all trades to hone your skills to become a specialist.
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Old 08-21-2013, 11:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I call it a "skeillset" some people call it a "skillset" but I call it a 'skeillset", uh huh.
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:33 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Sky, I actually am a fan of the jack of all trades. I noticed that specialization alone tends to make people miss the big picture, although the number of people I've seen this in would certainly not be enough for a valid statistical sample size.

However, I think that this generalist approach is better suited for entrepreneurs and creatives, even managers. I've always wondered for instance how the hell could Elon Musk go from starting Paypal, to building Teslas and spaceships. Or even Steve Jobs, I doubt he was a master at his craft, but he could "connect the dots" which probably helped him come up with the vision for Apple. Similarly, would you promote your best engineer to a top management position?

And with globalization and specialization, if you're not a minority, specialized in some obscure high-paying field, you're going to have a lot of competition from all over the world, which will certainly make you work more for less as the price will go down due to people living in least developed countries.

I think that being a jack of all trades can be very rewarding if you are also specialized in something, that should give you the best of both worlds.
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:37 AM   #11 (permalink)
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both. getting to a high level in one field has allowed me to create value, being 80% good at a lot of other things has allowed me to exploit it

this is a loner's perspective (i like to work by the pool) if you are the type of guy who doesnt mind working from an office and has the budget hire others to bring your ideas to market
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Old 08-22-2013, 02:36 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I have killed over 200 al Qaeda, is that special?
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Old 08-22-2013, 02:39 AM   #13 (permalink)
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You ask that as if we have a choice in the matter. Like it or not, you're learning more than you want to.
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Old 08-22-2013, 03:00 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Seems like arbitrary labels to me.
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Old 08-22-2013, 07:56 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Seems like arbitrary labels to me.
it's what many of the "citizens" of the world do.
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Old 08-22-2013, 08:16 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I call it a "skeillset" bigger the skill set more chance of survival.
Yup. For all the flack NLP gets around here this struck home with me:

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The element in a system with the most flexibility has the most control.
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Old 08-22-2013, 09:24 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I prefer to think of myself as a floating renaissance man.

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Old 08-22-2013, 04:36 PM   #18 (permalink)
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it requires both. jack of all trades in regards to 5-10 activities, and then specializing and mastering in them all. it's possible to do this when you have the time and freedom.
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Old 08-22-2013, 08:38 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I'm a jack-off of all trades.

Every time I find myself building a skill relating to IM, I invariably end up masturbating to Xhamster.
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Old 08-23-2013, 06:18 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I used to do be jack of all trades.

I matured up and now concentrate solely on STS posting.
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