An apology for “Jacks-of-all-trades” of the world.

January 15 2014

Hi everybody in the world!
I am Paolo, 37, and I live in Milano, Italy.
I am a (brand) designer.

I won the Listserve lottery!
Yeah! Yeah! (actually I originally missed the mail, but I was given a second chance!)

Let’s start with three quotes to set the mood:

You are a mashup of what you let into your life.
(Austin Kleon)

I am always doing that which I cannot do,
in order that I may learn how to do it. (Pablo Picasso)

If you always do what you've always done,
you'll always get what you've always got.
(Attributed to lots of different people… but, really, who cares about the author...)

I’ll share these thoughts:

— My goal here is to discuss the subject “Jack of all trades vs. Master of one” attitude (yes: one, not "none") and have your feedback — check wikipedia for “Jack of all trades”.
— My curiosity leads me to explore and practice lots of different things (and that is good!).
— The same curiosity makes me to swap between things a lot and that *might* be bad (for sure it gives me a sense of guilt).
— I think that “society” in general favors the image of expert people (they *are* romantic!) over generalists.
— Things are not black or white, the world is complex.

Questions for you guys:

A. Where do you place yourself? Generalist or expert? A mix of the two?
B. How do you balance between horizontal (multi-skill) and vertical (one) learning/practicing?
C. How do you select your sources? (people/events/books/websites/tv/etc.) How do you edit what you expose yourself to?
D. Share your best sources. What inspires you?
E. Do you have principles/rules/routines that help you through your day/life? Do you actually follow them?

Bonus tracks:

Check the handbook for new employees at Valve (google it! - no links allowed here)
It’s all awesome but start with page 39 (Putting more tools in your toolbox) and 46 (We value “T-shaped” people). I think it might be “THE ANSWER” to this mail.

“Non-reading is not just the absence of reading. It is a genuine activity, one that consists of adopting a stance in relation to the immense tide of books that protects you from drowning. On that basis, it deserves to be defended and even taught.”
(Pierre Bayard)

“Don't assume that what we currently think is out there is the full story. Go after the dark matter, in whatever field you choose to explore.”
(Nathan Wolfe)

[email protected]

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