success

Do You Need a Niche or Specialization to be Successful?

Really? Is there such a thing as a successful generalist?

Okay, I’m sorry. This started all wrong. Allow me to unscrew myself.

We shouldn’t start an article about success unless we talk about the nature of success and what it means. I shudder to discuss it because it means something different to everyone.

For some, it’s money. Lots of it. For others, it’s love and a good relationship. A job? Travel? Luxuries? What about having a good family?

Take me for instance. I am 55 years old, and I’ve led a difficult life. Let’s just say a combination of being neurodivergent and mentally ill made it impossible for me to do what “normal” people do with their lives. I didn’t go to college out of high school. I spent a few years climbing the corporate ladder, but my illness and lack of a degree held me back.

This year I graduated college, and I am looking to find my version of financial success after finding the love of my life and having a family for a second time.

Am I a success because I have a good woman and a family who loves me, or am I not because I am broke and looking for financial freedom?

How do you define success?

Let’s say for this article that we mean financial success. Not necessarily being rich but being comfortable enough to pay bills and have enough left over to travel, have a new car, a house, and a few nice things.

Comfortable.

How do most people find this kind of money? They go to college and specialize in a skill like computer science or finance. They find a job and work their way up the ladder. Maybe they make it to management.

The alternative is to be an entrepreneur. You specialize in a skill and create a product or service that meets a need in society.

But what if you are like me, and can’t decide what you want to specialize in? What if you are a generalist and are good at many things but a master of none? What if you jump from interest to interest and cannot decide what to offer an employer, or you cannot decide what product or service to offer customers?

Author Emelie Wapnick of Puttylike.com calls people like me multipotentialites, but you may have also heard us called generalists, polymaths, renaissance people, multipods, scanners, and even dilettantes. I don’t like the latter because it carries a negative feeling with it.

There is nothing wrong with being a multipotentialite, even if people are constantly telling us we need to specialize or have a niche. Most people are certain that you MUST have a niche to be successful.

From the time we are children, we are constantly asked what we want to be when we grow up. We are asked to choose something we want to do for most of our adult lives and be happy doing it. Or at least we have to like it enough to do it and pay the bills.

But what if we don’t want to choose?

Most people will tell you if you don’t niche down, you are doomed. Take a blogging course anywhere on the internet and one of the first things they will tell you is that you have to have a narrow, clearly defined niche for your blog.

Funny enough. They even had me believing the same things because I used to write articles about blogging where I suggested the same.

But is it true that if you don’t narrow your focus, and niche down to service a very small group of people, you cannot be successful?

The Successful Generalist

Over the years, I have become an expert in many things. Blogging, vlogging, podcasting, digital marketing, social media marketing, writing, web design, graphic design, AI prompting — I know a lot about many things.

I don’t force myself to focus on one thing.

Yes, this has caused me some problems in the past, and you’ll find that many multipotentialites will say that they are held back because they don’t tend to stick with one thing long enough.

For me, it was blogging.

I would consider myself an expert in the blogging field. My problem is I don’t have any credibility or authority because I don’t have a financially successful blog. I had a blog over 20 years ago that became successful enough that I sold it, but since then, I’ve jumped from idea to idea without ever sticking with one niche long enough to make money.

That is a problem when you are trying to get people to listen when you talk.

So, to that end, I am starting a blog next year. This will be the last pivot for me. I am not going to choose a niche, but I will have a brand for me and my business. I will have a focus, but not a niche. The purpose of this blog with be to prove that a generalist can be a financial success without settling for a specialization.

I will talk about creating businesses and making money as a generalist by leveraging the internet. We will start with a blog, and move on to a podcast, a YouTube channel, social media, courses, and build a community.

It will be a place for people like me to use their many interests to become financially successful, and that is as much of a niche as I will commit to.

This community will value honesty and fairness above all, and strive to be empathetic and altruistic to everyone we connect with.

Is it True You Have to be an Asshole to Succeed?

A lot of people think you have to be like Elon or Bezos to be financially successful. They lie, cheat their employees, and make billions off the backs of the masses who think that if they cater to the rich long enough, the wealth will trickle down.

My wife and I had a discussion the other day. She thinks that I am too “nice” to be in business because I’m honest and a stand-up guy. I will give my last dollar to a homeless guy, and my wife feels that because I am selfless, I won’t have the chops to succeed in the cutthroat business world.

I’m going to prove her wrong.

Not only am I going to prove that you don’t have to specialize to be financially successful, but I am going to turn the idea that “nice guys finish last” on its head.

You Don’t Have to Choose

There are many of us out there who don’t want to choose one thing. We want to be musicians and accountants. We want to be authors and design web pages. We want to be a travel writer and help the homeless.

Just because everyone is telling you that you must choose, does not make it right. Yes, the world caters to specialists, but multipotentialites can get a piece of the pie too.

I don’t believe you have to be a cheating snake oil salesman to make a buck either. There is plenty of room out there for those of us for whom honesty is paramount. We don’t want to lie and cheat to get ahead. We don’t want to take without giving back.

There is a tremendous amount of value that a person can give back and I want to prove that people value people who will not change what they believe in to make money. We don’t have to stoop to the lowest level to be a success.

Do you believe, as a generalist, that you are destined for financial success? I would like each one of you who relates to this to tell me your story in the comments. I will respond aback.

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