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Comparative Advantage can free Generalists from peer pressure to Specialise

Comparative Advantage for Generalists

Jack of all Trades and a Master of None can still have a Comparative Advantage

A comparative advantage for individuals can be described as a situation in which one can produce goods or services at a lower opportunity cost.

One example of comparative advantage that explains this is the case of call centers in India that employ Indians who don’t speak English as well as Americans. But as the Americans are more productive doing something else than working at a Call Center, they can afford to pay the Indians to do it for them. Although the Americans have an absolute advantage of speaking better English, the Indians have a comparative advantage in the call center business.

But why should generalists care?

At first thought, generalists seem to lack comparative advantage for most jobs. Being a Jack of all Trades and a Master of None can feel disheartening as recruiters can always find someone more specialized.

You may be a genius, but the job market doesn’t care.

But Generalists can develop comparative advantage by leveraging their unique set of skills, adaptability, and ability to connect ideas across different domains.

E.g. I found a comparative advantage as a researcher in Austria for 4 years using my unique core competencies.

Here are 6 tips for generalists to develop their comparative advantage:

  1. List out your core competencies
  2. Create Synergies
  3. Focus on Problem Solving
  4. Learning and Adaptability
  5. Communication
  6. Networking & Collaboration

List out your Core Competencies

Mine are:

  • Technology
    • Education: Bachelors
    • Programming, Web, Data Science, AI/ML
  • Finance
    • Education: Masters in Finance, Incomplete PhD Economics
    • Risk Management, Investing, Statistics
  • Sales & Marketing
    • Blog, Social Media, Sales, SEO, Business

Create Synergies

Combine diverse skills to create synergy.

E.g.

  • Finance & Technology -> Financial Software
  • Finance & Marketing -> Financial Blog
  • Finance, Technology & Marketing -> Web3 Application for Investing and Blog Content optimized for SEO, share snippets on X

Focus on Problem-Solving

Generalists are blessed with the ability to think out of the box and see connections between seemingly unrelated problems to find innovative solutions.

Practice makes perfect. Start small and grow your circle of influence in problem-solving.

Learning & Adaptability

If you have proven abilities to learn a wide range of knowledge and skills, you can keep learning more efficiently than others. Keep your mind open with a growth mindset and acknowledge that learning gets easier with the more you learn.

The After Action Review method for example is asking yourself a set of questions that can help you effectively plan your actions and learn from the outcomes of those actions to amend future endeavors. The AAR is a great tool to adapt strategies as you keep repeating the process.

Communication

Generalists are often great at translating complex ideas across disciplines. Hone your communication skills by capitalizing on social media, blogs, vlogs, etc.

Networking & Collaboration

Building a strong network with specialists can be highly beneficial. For example, I am building a prototype or an MVP for an Investment Web Application and will use my network of specialists to scale it up.

As much as you need those specialists, even they need you to help synthesize their expertise to create value. So a Win-Win attitude is key for Generalists trying to create synergy.

Conclusion

Specialists have stable jobs, while Generalists are often discarded by the job market during high-interest rate environments. This is because Generalists deliver on the innovative growth, which is unfortunately heavily discounted in such times.

This is the time for Generalists to build up their comparative advantage. The dopamine that comes from knowing that you are one of the few qualified people in the world to solve a highly differentiated problem is unreal. It will feel like the best job ever!

Hi, I’m Vineeth Naik

Liberal part time Blogger and full time Researcher with a broad range of experience, professionally and personally in Austria, Italy, UAE & India. Loves Finance, Business & Technology. Cares about society.

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