Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Downfall Of Specialization

It was said to me, "The more you learn, the more you earn." But who has time to learn anything outside of their area of specialization? Every subject now has a endless library of books, blogs, and websites dedicated to it. With all the information available, it seems impossible to know everything about a given subject. There was a time when having your hands in a little bit of everything was revered. Now everybody's gotta be an expert. This, I think, is a mistake.

Ben Franklin wore many hats and look at the impact he had on advancing American culture. He was an inventor, publisher, statesman, landlord, writer, and more. Franklin was able to come up with ideas because he knew how systems interacted and affected each other. If he only knew how a printing press worked and refused to truly investigate anything else, there is no way we would have the libraries or the communications tools that we have today.

This post isn't about Ben Franklin. Rather, it is encouragement to all of us to be like him and explore different roads that have absolutely nothing to do with our "area of expertise."

Copywriters need to have naturally interested minds or else they won't want to write about the subject they've been paid to write about. It will be boring and without passion. I believe my job is to be a passionate learner and then a passionate conveyor of subjects. Like when you hear a song you fall in love with on the radio. You buy the artist's cd, memorize all the lyrics, and insist on playing it for your friends in the car.

I am a writer, but I am more than that. I play guitar. I read lots of books about branding and social media and fiction. Science and metaphysics are fascinating to me. In my opinion, "How It's Made" is one of the best shows on television. I wish I could list to you all of my interests, but there are simply too many.

Here's a great way to start becoming fascinated by the world again and this is something I myself do. A repairman comes to fix your hot water heater. Ask him if he will show you and tell you about what he is doing as he's doing it. He will probably be surprised and honored that you're interested in his work. People love to be teachers. Let them teach you.

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