Zislis column: Your modest talents can add up to something special
Cartoonist and hypnotist Scott Adams coined the term “talent stack” to describe the exponential outcome of “layering modest skills on top of another until the effect is something special.” Adams says, “When you learn to see the world in terms of systems, not goals, everything comes into focus.” Talent stacking is an effective strategy for professionals with modest skills to redefine and rebrand themselves in preparation for something completely different.
In 2012, I had no idea that’s precisely what I was doing when I created my own business. After getting laid off from my last job, no one was hiring my skill set, so I got creative in order to make ends meet. I had a serious come-to-Jesus with my resume, looking for transferable skills that might apply to another industry. I took my background as a classroom teacher and combined it with a dozen years of nonprofit leadership and came up with this crazy idea to help people get organized.
Truth be told, I wasn’t an exceptionally organized person. (Believe me, I know a few who are.) But I knew enough then to figure out how to teach the basics of organization to others. I’d never been a dazzling program director, but I’d had enough experience to understand straightforward systems for operations, time and task management, human resources administration, and program development to get people unstuck. Take a few modest skills, combine practical experience and a little supplemental training, and you can create a combination of assets that equate to something special. To illustrate the point, my wacky combination of professional services now include: organization, operational systems, time and task management, content creation, and professional networking. It’s a mouthful, but it’s become the comprehensive scope of my practice.
Most entrepreneurs do this. The outliers capitalize on the fact that professionals are dynamic, multi-talented, and able to see opportunity not as a career title but through a broader lens, and apply dependable systems to any situation, with equal focus and clarity. For new entrepreneurs redefining themselves without any previous business experience, talent stacking is a way to self-evaluate based on how previous desired outcomes were achieved. Isolating personal processes and literally stacking them on top of each other creates something new, something unique — and if reliably successful, something of value to others.
Ask yourself, “What am I reasonably good at?” When you combine a few things you can feel confident about, you have the chance to brand yourself using your own unique combination of training, experience and talent to create something new. Test it with as many people as you can. Look for consistency and reliability in your outcomes until you can isolate, specifically, how you achieved a desired outcome. That process translates into a fixed framework (or step-by-step methodology) that can be taught to others. Truly exceptional curricula are universal, so anyone should be able to apply your steps and get great results — no matter who they are.
Innovators talent stack to create a new way of solving a universal problem. Essentially, talent stacking is an inventory of assets — what you do reasonably well — and creatively applies those assets to solve problems. And that’s what most customers, clients, and employers are looking for — dependable professionals who can reliably solve problems. Throw a little personality into the mix and your methodology becomes your own brand of genius. Consider how many fitness professionals are out there. The really good ones deliver a unique combination of training, experience, talent and charisma to effectively inspire a prolific following.
Consider your own training, experience and talent. Those are the building blocks for recharging a career that grows as you grow. Change is good. Evolution is better. No matter where you are in your life, get creative with your assets, follow your passion and be willing to re-invent yourself around what you love to do. That’s the secret to a rewarding career that doesn’t feel like work.
Evan Zislis is author of the bestselling book “ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World” and “Aphrodisiac: Clearing the Cluttered Path to Epic Love, Great Sex & Relationships that Last.” He is founder and principal consultant of http://www.MyIntentionalSolutions.com. For more information, like ClutterFree Revolution on Facebook, call 970-366-2532, or email Evan@MyIntentionalSolutions.com.
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