Learn how to make your passions and interests work for by building a talent stack. Not only will you be more successful, but you'll also bring unique value to your current career or business.
Realise your unique value
When Scott Adams wanted to make his mark on the world, he wasn’t sure what niche he could excel in. He wasn’t the best comedian but he had a great sense of humour, he wasn’t the best artist but he enjoyed drawing, and he didn’t have much marketing sense, but he was good at connecting with people. He decided to compile all his skills and passions to create something completely unique and fresh.
The result was the Dilbert cartoon strip.
His philosophy was a revelation to all of us. He showed us that anyone can carve their own niche and achieve success by following their interests and passions. This is known today as the Talent Stack.
“When you add in my ordinary business skills, my strong work ethic, my risk tolerance, and my reasonably good sense of humour, I’m fairly unique. And in this case, that uniqueness has commercial value.” — Scott Adams
Cultivate your interests and passions
When we look at many high performers, we see that they achieve great things because of their artful use of strategy and creativity in a specific domain that they’re continually gathering expertise within.
Great minds have something in common — they are not homogenous in interests and passions.
Think about Steve Jobs. His contribution to computers wasn’t a technical one, it was a personable one. Jobs brought simplicity, sentimentality and beauty into a world where everything was binary. He made computers approachable to the non-technician, and now, we are seeing tech companies following in his footsteps.
Carve a unique niche for your skills
Usually, talent staking involves compiling a bunch of skills that fit together like a puzzle to enable you to have an advantage in your field.
Mikael Cho, Founder and CEO of Upslash, talks about how he’s not great at any one particular thing, but when combining his "mediocre" skills, he was able to reach heights in his business that all entrepreneurs dream about.
“I’m not a great writer. I’m a below average designer. And I’m no genius (my IQ tested just above average).” So it might seem strange that someone like me, who seems mediocre on paper, could have founded two high-growth internet companies in the last three years.”
Stacking your team’s talent to get a greater advantage
The talent stack philosophy can be even more powerful when you’re managing a team. You can extend this concept to the unique talents within your team and use those talents to strategically build new processes and products.
Here's how Mikael Cho grades his team's "mediocre" skills that combine to make his company irreplaceable:
Ability to come up with clever ideas (Good)
Community building and customer service (Good)
Psychology (Above average. Many of our team members have psychology degrees and/or a strong interest in it.)
Humour (Above average and getting better now that we keep hiring funny people including a comedian.)
Grit/endurance (Great. We look for people who have experience performing at a high level for long hours (e.g. marathoners).
Build your own talent stack
When building your talent stack, compile a list of everything you believe you’re good at from all facets of your life. Include the things that people tell you that you’re good at, too. Take stock of the skills that you’ve cultivated through your passions, interests, occupation and hobbies.
For example: you’re a sales-person who hates the 'salesy' script that your company has developed. What’s more, it’s not working for you because it’s making you feel slimy and inauthentic. What you can do is in this situation is to ‘know thyself’. Do some digging and uncover what makes you a good negotiator in social settings.
Let’s say that you decide that you hate small talk and leading people astray but you have a good sense of humour, you’re persuasive, relatable, empathetic, enthusiastic, a good listener. A suitable talent stack would include all the elements of your appropriate strengths that relate to your role. When you combine these together, you get a fresh and unique approach to the same ol’ boring routine, and this creates a niche for you to succeed within. So, what are you waiting for? Go and build your talent stack and open the door to new successes and heights in your career and business.