We live in a world full of slashers and mashed-up individuals.
Multi-hyphenated talents with diverse skills under one hat.
It’s actually a good thing, one that liberates us from the old world, tedious tyranny of having to choose a title, to name in society and let others feel secure in their one-word statements.
This has come to an end.
We’re are not a label, nor a job, nor a definition.
We’re multi-talented folks, focusing our time on different things, meticulously ordered.
The plurality doesn’t dilute your career success or organizational efficiency; it enhances it.
“In the real future, you’ll be working at a stint rather than a job. To work at a stint is to become part of a project for 18 months, followed by joining three friends doing a start-up business that folds after two years, after which you sign with a multinational which disappear in a merger and then start your freelancing consultant activity on the side of your e-commerce lifestyle business… and the beat goes on forever. (Hiemstra, 2011)
We stand on the shoulders of giants.
Dave Stewart (Eurythmics songwriter and producer) he’s a musician, author, producer, start-up founder, filmmaker, and philanthropist. It defines himself as a “cultural engineer.” Awesome.
Pharrell Williams is a rapper, musician, multimedia producer, author, entrepreneur, fashion designer, social activist and tech investor.
Leonardo Da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, architect, geologist, cartographer, botanist, musician, scientist, engineer, inventor, anatomist, mathematician, writer, designer, innovator, architect and more.
Joe Bastianich, the food business mogul, is also a tv star and a talented musician, with his own rock band, touring Europe.
Johnny Depp, apart from being a huge actor, is also a phenomenal guitarist and rock singer, touring the world with legends like Alice Cooper, Queens of the Stones Age, Paul McCartney, and Foo Fighters. He’s also a club owner in West Hollywood.
Jack Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, is also a mashed up individual.
Those above are clearly the tip of the iceberg, “aliens”, uber-gifted geniuses.
It’s just a crucial example, but I personally know a lot of this kind of folks.
In my family, too there are exmaples of this trend: my father was a musician, a singer, an actor, a director, an author, a musicologist, a journalist, a photographer, a video-maker and a performer. Other than a frequent traveler.
My mother is a writer, an executive producer and she’s also been an HR manager for a multinational.
Frequent traveler and cultural nomad, also.
I also got examples really close to me: one of my best friends is a super talented lawyer, a very good chef and an amazing musician, composer and piano virtuoso. I’ve written my early songs with him. Another one is a real estate broker and a singer.
I could go on forever, but there’s no need for this… The point is: we’ve evolved.
Kevin Roberts, the worldwide CEO of Saatchi&Saatchi, thinks:
“The whole notion of specialization versus generalization is outdated.”
Obviously, we also need specialists, in this world. Many important tasks couldn’t be completed without them.
But for the naturally multi-oriented people, it’s time to embrace that nature and leverage its advantages.
Mashing is not jumping randomly from one thing to another. Instead, integrating different skills into your personal brand DNA.
Usually, the duality is between the most creative attitude and most practical, business-oriented one.
Anyhow, it’s not only for the giants mentioned above. Normal everyday people do this all the time.
For more examples, check the book Mash-up! by Ian Sanders and David Sloly.
Regarding myself, I use the 70-20-10 technique for focus and Pomodoro technique for productivity.
The former is to merely divide your attention into the main activity/project at 70%, the secondary for 20% and the side for 10% for any given period or weekly.
I suggest avoiding scattering your focus daily between different topics, as can be overwhelming and distracting. Each day, donate all your attention to an activity only and your productivity will thank you for this.
The Pomodoro technique is to divide the job into short time bursts of 25 to 45 minutes, disconnecting from all distractions.
Google it for details, but it I assure you that’ll boost your routines as hell.
There’s a misconception in the business world: the brand focus theory.
It got accolades by the majority but also from the insecures. It’s true that the more companies focus their effort on a customer segment and their brand USP (Unique Selling Proposition), the more they grow their chance of success.
But this concept doesn’t take into account two essential factors:
1) it’s not the founder that must be focused, it’s the company. I can have 3 different activities, in three different fields and manage them perfectly. If the businesses got product-market fit and I find the way to manage them effectively, nobody gives a sh*t if in my spare time I do tons of other things. It’s the brand that counts and my personal brand is to be multi-hyphenated, so it’s perfectly narrowed.
2) brand stretching. History is full of huge agglomerates doing many different things in totally different sectors and succeeding.
It’s the awesome Keiretsu model (when a family office set up a financial holding and create different businesses with the same brand). Some examples.
Virgin: airlines, trains, record label, financial services, internet and mobile services, drinks, fitness clubs, apparel, and more. Sony: music instruments, home gear, TVs, record labels, film production and distribution, financial investment banks (Japan), wearables.
Mitsubishi: cars, banks, electronics, air conditioning, personal care, etc.
Yamaha: motorbikes, music instruments, hifi, pianos, bank, refrigerators, etc. Braun: from personal care to coffee appliances and kitchen stuff.
Remember: it’s not how many verticals you enter, it’s how the customer perceives your brand.
If they are coherent, all’s good. And if you, as the founder, got your personal brand doing well (as Virgin’s Richard Branson) it’s easier. Your personal brand adds credibility and allure to your otherwise tasteless businesses.
I don’t go into Virgin Active cause they are better than, say, Anytime Fitness. I go there because, at the same price and quality level, I prefer to support the awesome Richard Branson himself, rather than a faceless conglomerate.
Mashers of the world, unite!