Are you a specialist or are you multi-talented? Which is better?
Initially, being present online seems within everyone’s reach. It is easy with self-service platforms.
Open an account and get your hands dirty. What does it take? Marketing Strategy? If you want to sell, yes!
Two photos on Instagram, three posts on Facebook, the first advertising on Google and you might already start to take some clients, certainly not big companies, but surprisingly sometimes it is that easy… and then you realize that you don’t have enough business and you find yourself facing some difficulties. And after only a few years, you hear that your cousin “know all about” Facebook and “he can help you a lot”!
Everybody thinks they are “the cousin who knows a lot” but only 1 in 100 applicants pass the Viral Octopus digital marketing competency tests.
Nothing wrong with not passing the test, but it is important to realize that, given the complexity of digital marketing, if you are aiming for excellence it is certainly necessary to specialize in a specific task.
The moment you become really good at something is also the moment when you start tasting the bitter truth.
You can not make the leap in quality because you are missing something. You cannot forget everything that goes into a business, but you do not have time to study it and you do not know where to start.
You miss the holistic perspective.
So, how can you solve this problem? How can you prepare for the challenge?
We have to go from I-Skills to T-Skills
What are I-Skills?
I-Skills are extremely vertical skills. The famous expert who takes you $ 1,000 to turn a screw. The right screw. The problem is that, in the case of online businesses and more, turning that screw could have a series of catastrophic consequences on the rest of the system. Does the saying “fix on one side and break on the other” tell you something?
The screw was turned but, probably, a truly great digital marketer would have warned you that before turning that screw, you need to fix some other things upstream.
To be a great professional it is necessary to cultivate one’s own specialization within a holistic perspective, passing from I-Skills to T-Skills.
Acquiring a holistic approach means acquiring a new approach to work and also to oneself, as entrepreneurs or professionals. It will no longer be a question of studying theories to be applied to the business, but of looking at the overall picture, in the perspective of the individual activities that make up the business.
In an open letter written by one of my martial arts masters, Renzo Gracie, on the occasion of his return to combat at the age of 51, I found a passage that I slightly adapted, very fitting for our sector:
There are three types of people.
Those who do not challenge their skin and live on the skin of others, such as politicians, opinion leaders, consultants and gurus.
Those who challenge their skin, as entrepreneurs and shopkeepers.
Those who put it into play for the common good, like soldiers, warriors and people who accuse criminals (thanks Assange, Snowden …)
Learning and training should mainly take place through the observation of case studies concerning the people who purchase the product and their habits and experimentation. Not only through the study of reports and statistics. You have to test on your skin.
A methodology of study focuses on a real revelation: WE DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING!
It is easy to be a guru with other people’s money. Always ask your gurus what they did for themselves and not for others. Ask if they ever failed and how that turned out.
Returning to the development of our skills- how can you develop them?
In the current scenario, we are faced with the need to deepen our knowledge of the specific sector of our competence, without completely ignoring the neighboring specializations.
We could summarize the concept simply by saying, as mentioned above, that today it is necessary more and more, to pass from the so-called I-Skills to the T-Skills.
The metaphor immediately describes the correct contemporary approach for training staff, professionals, and especially managers.
Some people are more inclined to study a bit of everything. Others struggle to organize time and get out of their specialization. Both personalities have to make a little effort and get out of the comfort zone to improve.
Warning! You can not become experts in everything. If you try,, you risk being hit by the curse of Leonardo da Vinci.
The Curse of Leonardo da Da Vinci
The professional figure that we propose has a specific personality. You must be multi-talented and curious. This is a personality that also carries a curse. In a beautiful book “the Da Vinci Curse” Leonardo Lospennato describes this very well.
Da Vinci was known for being a genius who, with his inventions, gave ideas to various scientists in the centuries to come. He excelled in art, in painting, sculpture, engineering, anatomy, architect, and so on and so forth.
He never specialized in a specific competence. There is only one problem … How many of the works he imagined was he able to complete? None. At the time it was not a big problem. There was a huge need, a hunger for knowledge and little competition.
People afflicted by the curse of Da Vinci jump from one activity to another, just assimilating the basics, perhaps a little out of curiosity and a little for fear of comparison.
Today the world is so complex and so much knowledge has accumulated that there is naturally a lot of specialization. In fact, to deeply understand a subject and be able to apply that understanding correctly, a lifetime is not enough.
The problem is that it is now well established that it is not enough to know how to dominate one’s specialization. It actually influences and is in turn influenced by all the other specializations that make up the macro-problem we are facing.
How to cultivate the T-Skills without being afflicted by Leonardo’s curse?
Don’t be Leonardo. Don’t be a mummy.
So today both the Da Vinci and the reductionists are inadequate. What can you do?
We need to specialize in a field or two, H-Skills, and know all the related subjects in a superficial way.
Owning the T-Skills does not mean no longer being a specialist or an expert; on the contrary, it means being able to deepen a discipline thoroughly, without neglecting all the others that revolve around it.
Those who have a very in-depth knowledge of a very specific sector run the risk of being mired in the multitude of variables that a specific subject can involve, never coming to the fateful transition from design to action.
Those who can boast of a T-Shaped professionalism will be able to evaluate the pros and cons of a specific action under different profiles, making and executing quick decisions about every activity on the web.
In addition, the T-Shaped managers are able to move from one task to another with flexibility and speed.
If there is something we do not know or can not do, we are always ready to learn it quickly. Indeed, every obstacle will only become a new challenge.
Whether you are a Da Vinci or an ultra-specialist, do not worry.
- Identify the subjects related to your specialization.
- Create a framework for studying and for applying your learning.
The Viral Octopus Loop is the framework that I developed and is designed to tame my transgressions from Vinciane and to help the ultra-specialists of the Viral Octopus Community get out of their dogmas
The Viral Octopus Loop is divided into 8 parts. I chose to specialize in the first part “Business Modeling”. I try to study all the components of this subject such as legal structures, how to sell, how to validate an idea, how to look for funds, how to control costs.
For this reason I am enrolled in several very exclusive CEO communities. At the same time, I want to know in principle all the best practices related to the other points. So, I followed courses in copywriting, Human-Computer Interaction and I created a feed with all the news of the Ads platforms, but because I’m a Facebook Advertiser or a Designer.
The other subjects I study to apply the Viral Octopus Loop are:
- Customer Experience. How can I create offline and online paths and experiences for users who come into contact with the business?
- Marketing Strategy. How will I promote the appropriate action according to the status and moment in the life of the client or potential client?
- Wholistic Planning. How can I organize multiple activities, delegate and organize time?
- Development. How should I manage teams for the application of my plans?
- Measuring Success. What are the analysis tools, how they are read and how are the results applied?
- Optimization. What are the possibilities to optimize my business in all aspects, both onsite, off-site and offline?
- Trend Hunting. What innovations and trends can help me stay one step ahead of the competition?
Feel free to use my framework. You will find it also used in this magazine to make sense of the contents and to link them to each other.
When I find something useful or stimulating, I will publish it in the magazine or in the podcast section.
Clearly, it is an open source framework in continuous development. So, if in two years I will tell you something different, do not be surprised.
Pietro Bonomo – Visionary @ViralOctopus