Six Specializations Makes You World-Class
If you want an average, successful life, it doesn’t take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two rather: 1) Become the best at one specific thing. 2) become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.
You can make a lot of money by being the best at a scalable domain because leverage feeds winner-take-all dynamics.
The problem is there are people on Earth. To be the best, you have to be better than every single one of them. It’s not hard to get into the top 0.1 or even 0.01 of people at many skills but it is hard to get into the top .
There are many different skills you can learn e.g. mathematics, sales, drawing, management. Suppose there are basic skills. You can become the best in the world by being the best at any one of them. But to be the best at one of different skills you must compete against people. Competing against eighty million people is easier than competing against eight billion but it is still hard.
Many real-world competitions require more than one skill. Suppose you want to be the best author of physics books. You must combine two skills: writing and physics. There are different pairs of skills. Instead of competing against the rest of mankind in 100 domains you are competing in 5,000 different domains. On average, you will compete against people.
For randomly-selected skills there will, on average, be only people competing at the intersection. You are one of those people. At what is there zero competition (besides yourself)?
Six. If then combining six skills at random makes you so specialized that literally nobody in the world is competing with you. The equation is weakly dependent on our choice of . If then you need seven skills instead.
Six arbitrary skills may not be, in general, synergistic. But if your work combines six or more skills then you should not be surprised if you are the best in the world.
I am not a great artist, and I have never taken a traditional class in writing. I’m not the funniest person in my social circle, and I’m not a great business mind either. But few people in the world have a complete talent stack as valuable as mine. By being good enough in each of those individual talents, I can be a famous syndicated cartoonist and enjoy an ideal career.
―Win Bigly by Scott Adams