Generalist Swiss Army Knife

Monday Buzz: The Benefits of Being a Generalist

Learn why it's more helpful to be able to see the big picture beyond your area of focus. Plus: Are you ready for change in 2016?

When consultant Adrian Segar began looking for clients, he assumed they would want him for his specific expertise, but he soon discovered a different demand.

With time, he realized that what organizations really valued were his abilities to reveal real problems, understand the bigger picture, and develop new solutions, along with other skills that are notably more generalist than he expected.

While competitors struggled to attract the attention of potential employers, Segar recognized that his ability to step back and flexibly tackle the big picture was what made him desirable.

“Being a generalist in the realm of consulting means being willing and able to see and act on a bigger picture than clients typically initially present,” he writes. “For example, no one ever hired me to solve ‘people problems,’ but I can’t recall a consulting assignment where human issues weren’t an important factor.”

Segar doesn’t discount his technical abilities, nor their importance. But, as he observes, having a wide knowledge base to draw from can help an individual, or association, stand out among the crowd.

Generalists do well, Segar explains, “because relatively few people have the required skill-set to solve problems that cross traditional specialties, and it’s easier to thrive in a field with, say, ten competitors as opposed to ten thousand.”

Challenge of the Day


“Dealing with change is like dealing with ice cream,” Stuart Easton, CEO of software company TransparentChoice, writes in a guest post for SocialFish. “You know it’s going to melt and you put measures in place to manage it.”

Keeping up with change is a demanding process, so to help, TransparentChoice has created a short survey to answer the big question for 2016: Are you ready for change?

Other Good Reads

When chasing success, follow the money. Venture capitalist Ben Horowitz recounts stories of how organizations, including his own, have suffered severe consequences because of poor budgetary processes.

Push back against poor Wi-Fi by bringing the fight to your Wi-Fi supplier. Event Tech Lab cofounder James Morgan details how to ensure that your vendor delivers, in this post for Event Manager Blog.

What does it mean to be on a nonprofit board? Wall Street Journal columnist Veronica Dagher explains what’s expected of board members in terms of time and money.

(James Case/Flickr)

Eli Zimmerman

By Eli Zimmerman

Eli is studying Journalism at the University of Maryland. When not studying, he likes to relax with a nice book or a couple rounds at the local boxing gym. MORE

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