Specialize or Generalize – Niche or Broad – What to do when picking a field
- Articles, Blog

Specialize or Generalize – Niche or Broad – What to do when picking a field


To go into the workforce. I personally feel this pressure to specialize or like instead of saying I’m a visual artist go to say you’re a graphic designer or even specialize even more and say you’re a typographer. Yeah I feel like I have all these interests, all these passions and as society goes on it’s like we’re trying to make these specialized humans instead of having this well roundedness. In even going to a liberal arts school I still feel this pressures so I can’t even imagine it feel like we’re really in an art school. Yeah. So yeah my question is do you believe society should prefer the specialization or a more well-roundedness. Ok. It’s the specialist versus the generalist debate and you may think you’re specializing now at LMU but you’re not not even close. I promise you that I promise you the generalist knows many things right. And the specialist tends to focus on the one thing they just go deep and we go wide. When you want to hire somebody to solve a problem do you want to hire somebody that has surface level experience of many things Or the person who has great depth in one thing? What do you think? You have a problem. Diego has a problem. Diego tell me what a problem might be. It could be any kind of problem. Anytime. Anything that you need help with. Any job you’re trying to get done A math problem Ok, a math.. Math Problem Try and derail me right here. You’ve got a math problem You suck at math. Let’s just assume You’re gonna hire a tutor. This tutor knows or Who do you want to tutor you? The math genius! And why is that? Because they know more I guess about the topic. They know it inside out upside down. They do it in their sleep right. Right? Yeah they’ve seen this problem probably 1000 times. How many times has the generalist seen it? One time now. Now, I can tell because I read faces for a living. You’re not convinced. Diego Tell me why you’re not convinced You think that maybe that focus could cloud you to new ideas or like new ways to achieving something? Yeah. So Blair Enns talks about this. You guys know who Blaire Enns is? I’ll write his name here for you guys Blaire Enns He says that I mean not just the drugs but to the new novel. We tire of doing the same thing over and over and over again. Right? So this addiction to the new and the novel actually work against our ability to market ourselves to develop expertise and command the greatest value for our efforts. It really does. So we have to get rid of this desire to do so much because it works against us. Jordan Peterson talks about this he’s like creative people are amazing create immeasurable value in the world. And he talks about the Sistine Chapel and how much commerce that’s made And their are studies about how much revenue the Eiffel Tower has made, for France, in merch and souvenirs. Not even just tourists. It’s crazy. It’s like a over a billion dollars. That’s what the power of art is. But he said. That. We are by nature divergent thinkers. Versus convergent thinking. So if we exercise a little discipline we pick a lane. We can probably do really well for ourselves. So I’m gonna tell you something that hopefully will make you want to jump off a bridge after this… And now a word from todays sponsor Oxygen One of the best things about being a freelancer is that you choose your own clients. You have the flexibility to work when and where you want But as a freelancer your finances are constantly fluctuating with the amount of work you do throughout the year As a freelancer it’s really hard to establish credit with a traditional bank because we don’t have a typical 9 to 5 job But that’s where oxygen comes into play. It’s a bank that works with freelancers. Using your oxygen Visa Debit Card You can take cash out of more than fifty five thousand ATM’s with no fees And you get instant cashback credit on your typical expenses. They help you establish credit and we all know that credit is important. If you ever want to take out a loan After banking with oxygen for 90 days you can access a line of credit to help you grow your practice and help with unexpected expenses. Oxygen allows you to take control of your finances and access credit that we’ve never had access to before. Sign up by clicking the link in the description below. Now back to the video. Which is this is that You probably should specialize externally. While you remain a generalist internally This is the critical difference. Ok What I mean by this: To the world, you are the greatest math problem solver whiz kid graphic designer. That’s what they know you for Inside, Your composing music. You’re studying photography. You’re writing poetry. Here’s the cool part. Here’s a really cool part. When you get so much work and opportunities from this. Have you heard of the Halo Bias. It’s pretty cool. So there are hundreds of kinds of bias prejudice that we all have Shortcuts that we make about things to explain the world Because mostly it takes up too much energy to think about things. The halo biases if you’re good at one thing you must be good at everything. This happens all the time. You see somebody who is smart and one thing you just assume they’re smart and everything. This works the opposite God! He sucks at logo design. He must suck at web design too God he is ugly he must be terrible at everything. This is what happens. So when you show the world just one thing that you’re really good at. They just assume you’re good at everything. So other opportunities open up over here. Once you’ve established the superstar status then to remind you just all star wants to achieve this level of fame or expertise. Credibility. Then they start asking for all kinds of stuff Internally, I’m studying philosophy. I’m looking at psychotherapy. I’m looking at typography I’m looking at lots of different things. I don’t put that out there all the time. This makes me richer internally. This makes me rich externally meaning money in the bank. Does that make sense? So don’t throw yourself off a bridge. You can still love all those things that you like to do. You can on that and put that face into the world because the halo bias works for you. It also works against you. Here’s the rule. Many of you guys are gonna get old school in a few months when you put out your portfolio. Edit out all the garbage. And I promise you right now. Because your program is not that focus there’s a little bit of garbage in there. Just take it out. Don’t get this idea that you have to have 14 pieces. You need three. I said it. You need three. I got my first job in advertising By sending four pieces in a FedEx box. I was offered a job. I did it because my portfolio was not advertising based So I picked four pieces that might feel like advertising That was conceptual. That’s it. Got hired because of that. So some of the things that you think are true or not true. It’s not the quantity because what they do is they look at the worst piece and they imagine the rest of your work like that. If you could put that piece in your portfolio I wonder what you’re gonna do to us. So don’t put anything you’re not super proud of. And be merciless. Be vigilant. In what you keep.

About Ralph Robinson

Read All Posts By Ralph Robinson

87 thoughts on “Specialize or Generalize – Niche or Broad – What to do when picking a field

  1. Ironically been watching this scene in loop for the past couple of days. Like you guys read my mind 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

  2. Would be very helpful to have some examples of a 'generalist' job and 'specialist' job.
    Is a generalist a 'media company' that offers video, photo, website, brand design, seo?
    Is a 'specialist' someone who ONLY makes video?
    or is a 'specialist' someone who only makes real estate videos?????? There are niches even within each 'skill' such as logo, video photo. People can ONLY do fashion photography for example.

  3. Great content, and don't forget, there are many ways to specialize. You can either specialize by
    · What you know (logo design, website design, accountant)
    · Who you work with (restaurants, ecommerces, hospitality businesses)

    You can obviously combine both (for example, I am a marketing mentor for ecommerces), but be carefull to not super limit your potential audience

  4. Yesterday I got a phone call for my first job and before discuss anything I told them x amount of money per year I am looking for if you can pay then we discuss my skills and job roles otherwise I don't want to waste mine and your time…then they told me to come for an interview and I did my interview and today I got my joining letter and a msg from HR " I like your confidence in my 10 years of the selection process I never see a fresher candidate who told me first about how much money he is looking for and everything after that"

    and I was like FULL CREDIT GOES TO THE FUTUR
    Thank You (Sorry for my English)

  5. From my experience, ranging from Game Development to Full Stack Web Dev, I would say Yes and No. It's good to specialize and get good at one thing so you can get a job, but it's also good to try to pick up other stuff cos you just never might know if you'll fall in love with it. I started out doing Electrical and Communication Engineering, but happened to come across brochure one day for a uni that was teaching game dev. I went into it reluctantly but never looked back ever since and from making games I discovered the creative side to it; 3D, 2D modeling, texture design, and effects design, and when i picked up web dev I discovered that designers were a thing and i first stumbled on dribbble, it blew my mind what designers could make and then i learned about brand making and the intricacies that come with it.
    I mean love coding so much now and I take pride in my skill to create a site from wireframe, to setting up servers and developing the client side to deployment and i dont even want to imagine what my life would have been like if i never picked up that brochure.
    I dont even know if what i just said has anything to do with the topic here, but it was fun to reminisce and type it. thank you for reading.

  6. Nobody is Jack of All Trades in Everything. From What I learned is We can know about a lot of things, but not everything we know is really what we good at.

  7. Respectfully, I'm not convinced. I've been a 'filmmaker' for almost 10 years. Before I got laid off from my last job, my title was 'Producer/Director'. There's a trend of companies hiring their own in-house video teams who seem to just want generalists. By this I mean somebody who can shoot, edit, direct, be a copywriter, produce (by produce I mean to manage a project from start to finish), be a motion graphics guru, photography and on top of that, understand social media marketing.

  8. I came out of Uni a generalist Graphic Designer in 2009, I felt my way through industry jobs to see how they 'valued' me. Most of that value seemed to be from Motion Graphics. So I doubled down on Motion Graphics the following year.. plus it was double the pay as a junior graphic designer. Feel your way through your industry to know the most value you can bring to people than double down.

  9. Does this apply to creative/ad agencies too? Job scopes often require designers to create digital assets in different mediums, some even require motion design experience. In that case, how do I structure my portfolio?

  10. Posted by an entrepreneur (a skill) who posts popular YouTube videos (another skill) about graphic design, web design, logo design, sales, marketing, UI/UX design, project management…

  11. This is the question I've been looking for answer for past 6 months and by watching this video it helped me in figuring it out in someway

  12. The point where Chris Do quotes Jordan Peterson I think made me lose a lot of respect for Chris. Being a creative and a generalist is good. It's just "bad" in the context of a capitalist society that finds specialized worker bees easier to exploit and control. Please don't EVER quote Peterson, or any other charlatan

  13. Freelancers! Check out our sponsor, Oxygen Bank, and support those who support us 👉 https://go.onelink.me/zyU0/thefuturyt

  14. But am still at uni , I don’t know what to specialize in even if am already liking certain segments , am afraid the world need something else more

  15. generalist can only solve small problems, but a specialist can even take down a big problems (on what their specialize in). If i'm having a chronic diseases, I would go to specialist but if its minor, a general doc would do. But nevertheless, specialist wins because they charged for more lol

  16. Great video as usual but I was so distracted by Chris jacket he looks so good! I am sorry its so irrelevant 😅🙏

  17. this is my problem right now. you read my mind. I'm the kind of person who likes to learn a lot so I can do a lot of things from 3d, video and film, photography, graphic design, web design. I even took "Multimedia Arts" in college because I love them all. But there's no denying that every area is broad, I've been thinking about this lately. Companies so far that we I had interview told me that they liked us who took multimedia because we can do a lot of things instead of hiring multiple people. But I can't help but think to myself, there's also something special about having a specialty. Being a master at something.

    What I'm doing right now is eliminating, I decided to go for now on graphic design and UI/UX. and put aside film and photography as a hobby. As an example too, I am learning 3D more right now so that I can use it to create 3D assets on websites. It's going to be a fun journey. Maybe I'll narrow down to even one specialty in the future. For now it's Visual Design for me (Graphics + Web)

  18. Fear the man that has practiced the same kick 10,000 times. Not the man that has practiced 10,000 kicks once.

  19. Minddddddd BLoooooown. Yoooooooooo Needded thiiiiiiiiiissssss. It explains niching down so well, while keeping experimenting with our interestssss

  20. This is one of the biggest struggles of my (professional) life! Picking out a field of expertise…
    I think I found one, but I've been wrong on this before…

  21. Amazing … Thanks for your insight… i'm a photographer/videographer and i think it applies for other creatives too…

  22. Thats sooooo true about how people think about all after create an assumption about the first thing they saw. Even myself, when a hired people, when i saw their portfolio, those with a lot of things always send some student crappy exercise work and I always assume they don't have the require abilities. Even if they have some dope video. Generally i think he didn't made the video entirely, but had help of a lot of real professionals. (obviously i can ask and interview, but this is a huge downside on their portfolios).

  23. I believe the Quote "A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one." will help clarify and put things in perspective.

  24. Yea but… What happens when the person whos hiring needs to solve multiple problems and not at an expert level.
    Let's say… a Digital Marketing Manager for his business….????????

  25. Only a few can learn to become a specialist, as an autodidact. The consequence of becoming a specialist the other way is you have to learn it from other specialists or, a group of specialists with their view on how to do things. What is good enough and what is not. They are defining your way of seeing, solving, creating and judging, But in the same time give you the blindness for other ideas. This is the narrowness of a master(s)-student relation. Learn a lot, then get out the specialist situation to see in broad where you are in all this.

  26. It depends on where your. If you are trying to make a living in the movie industry in Hollywood, you better try to be the super-steadycam operator, the super-motion graphics guy or the best film colorist there is. If you are a creative person in the Mid West, wanting to become a independent movie maker, you better are quite good at a lot of things. (If you make it to Hollywood, you might be able to specialise).

    It also depends for who you work. In a small market, local businesses might just need a photographer who does some product shots, but also some portraits and the odd company building. Some go even further and offer photography and web design. And it might make sense it these markets.

  27. The issue is when you be special in one thing, that’s mean your share in market only be in that one thing. Let’s say you are specialized in graphic design, and there are opportunities for copy writing or website design and you can do it with outsource it. But if I positioning my self only in one files that’s mean I’ll lose those opportunities..

  28. I specialized in wedding cinematography for years but could never really get it off the ground (always had to keep my day job), but then I tried becoming a general photographer and cinematographer, and was able to quit my day job because of the amount of work I was able to accumulate. It's puzzling to me too honestly. Can anyone figure out why generalizing DOES work sometimes? General practitioners still have a place in the medical field for example. Or what about management positions, where generalizing would actually be beneficial when supervising a team of specialists?

  29. This is one of the best arguments I've heard for specializing. The halo bias really puts it into perspective. TY!

  30. unfortunately employers don't advertise this way, most jobs except agencies only ask for a specific, look through the job ads

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *