Back when blogging was still something that people did, there was a lot of talk on planning blogs about the benefits of creative generalists versus specialists. Since then, it seems like there’s been an increased tension between generalism and wanting to peg people into very specific roles. Though that might just be a reflection of my having moved from a small agency where people wear a lot of different hats to a bigger one where every tiny detail of workflow is broken down and assigned to a specific person.
Whatever the case may be, it’s naturally led me to overthink my career path. Should I push for specialization into something like digital strategy or should I just keep things as open as possible?
Robert Pozen, some guy that I’ve never heard of before, but who Fast Company thought enough of to write an article about, has some good practical advice on the matter:
“The moves he made showcase what he calls “step-by-step optionality,” a career-planning philosophy that emphasizes developing skills that meet the marketplace. Instead of asking “where do I want to be in 20 years?”–which he calls an “act of hubris” for its assumption of controlling a career, Pozen advocates a measured, probabilistic approach, establishing long-, medium-, and short-term goals.”
It’s similar to a conversation that I had the other night with one of our GPDs about his career path. He’s just received an MBA from UVA to hang alongside his Master’s from VCU Adcenter from years back. Whereas I’ve been thinking about where to steer myself, his whole thing is about increasing possibilities. I’m not sure if staying broad is the right way to think about it, but he’s opened the door wide for whatever may come his way while keeping things focused enough that his different skills can all work together no matter which way things go.
Maybe it’s obvious, but sometimes it’s nice to take a step back to look at the big picture.