There are two ways to be extraordinary in your field:
Current society is obsessed with someone being an expert in a particular field. Be it science, music, sports, you name it, society loves to celebrate that one amazing skill. The shooting prowess of Steph Curry, the surgeon who performs heart surgery, or the musical ability of Beyoncé. What society does not tell you is that becoming an expert takes year of practice.
We don’t see the millions of shots Steph Curry took, the years of study by the surgeon, or the countless hours of practice by Beyoncé. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he states that it takes at least 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert. To break that down, that’s 40 hours a week for five full years. That’s a huge investment, and if that’s your goal, more power to you.
But what if there was another way to get to the top of your field? One that does not rely on a specific expertise, but a way to combine several things that you are ‘pretty good’ at and have strong interest in, into a single package.
Talent Stack: A combination of skills that build off each other to make you unique and valuable
Society deems things valuable if they are rare. By combining two or more skills that you are ‘pretty good’ at, you can transform skills that may appear mundane on their own into skills that are unique and valuable. Now, throw in something you are passionate about, and you have a recipe for growth and success!
The important thing to remember is that you need to be slightly more than competent in the skills that you are packaging together. Your time is too valuable to be a ‘Jack of all trades’. Instead, you have to be a little better than most in those specific skills, and it’s at that intersection of multiple ‘better-than-most’ skills that will be your vehicle for success.
Adams’ Talent Stack included:
- Business skill
- Work ethic
Scott Adams describes his Talent Stack this way: “I can draw better than most people, but I am hardly an artist. And I am not funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I am funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes… add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it.”. He was able to parlay those talents into becoming a nationally syndicated and, arguably, the most recognized cartoonist of our generation.
Another great example of a Talent Stack is the late, great Steve Jobs.
Jobs’ Talent Stack included:
- Decent with technology (at a time when few were!)
- Eye for design and packaging
- Good at presenting and marketing
- Visionary thinker
His Talent Stack allowed the common person to have access to the technical world of computing and simplify it so that over a billion people would have the power of the worldwide web in the palm of their hand. Steve Jobs’ Talent Stack, quite literally changed the world.
Talent Stacking has never been more important. We are competing with millions of people for time, resources, and jobs. Knowing yourself and how to make yourself stand out is your superpower, and your ticket to becoming extraordinary.
Joe Strick is a Senior Account Manager at TalentQuest. He has spent the last 12 years helping organizations optimize their workforce and talent needs. He is passionate about ensuring clients are successful in executing their talent, performance, and learning strategies.