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Millionaire Mind

The Jack Of All Trades Myth

Tim Ferriss’ recent post The Top 5 Reasons To Be a Jack Of All Trades really opened my eyes to the world of business. He targets the idea of being a “Jack of all trades, master of none” and then discounts the “master of none” part!

The basis for his article goes back to the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule). His arguement is that you can ‘Master’ any skill – ie. get to the 80% level – in about a year. The remaining 20% could take another 10 years, 20 years or even a lifetime of practice to achieve. This results in a diminishing return on time invested (ROTI) after the 80% is achieved. Tim’s arguement is that the term ‘Master’ is very different than being ‘Perfect’.

My Understanding
Although I completely agree with his statement for many areas of business, I think that the article should clarify it’s target audience a little better. I don’t want to have a Doctor, with 1 year of schooling, removing my appendix. I would prefer that an Engineer, with more than 1 year of schooling, design the building I work in. I’d also like the rocket scientist who designs the space shuttle that flies over my house to have more than 1 year of schooling. Other than these people, I’m all for it.

Entrepreneurs and Team Builders
Being a Jack Of All Trades will work wonders for you if you are also working towards creating your own business or self-directed investing. A Jack needs to create a team of people who have specialized knowledge that can be leveraged. Without this drive, a Jack will probably be forced to spend their days in a mid-level management position of some large Cog manufacturing company.

As you can imagine, the world needs people who are specialized for this exact reason. If you have the ability to successfully build teams and motivate people, you don’t need to know more about taxation than your accountant. You also don’t need to have a better understanding of the legal profession than your lawyer. What you need is the ability to manage your team, your time and your goals.

Dare I say: Become a Jack of all trades?

Not without a warning:
There are too many people who should run away screaming if someone suggests that they become an entrepreneur. My suggestion is that you take a good look at your personality, long term goals and skills. If you’ve got the internal motivation you need to succeed then go for it. If you’re satisfied working 9 to 5 with a steady 3% raise every year, then stick with that.

Create your life the way you want it.

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