When I think about who you and I are, I think about a book I read some time back called The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman. Its a modern history book outlining the narrative of Globalization - it's probably the longest book I have ever read at over 600 pages but what is interesting about the book is that I found myself in only part of the narrative. You'd think in 600 pages I would see myself in some of the writing or have more than one concept resonate with me. But, not really. The most fascinating concept Friedman outlines is a minor concept in the book or at least, its not given many pages but its probably what I think about the most in my week... versatilists. I had never heard the term and there's a good chance that Friedman made it up, but oh man, does it resonate with me.
Versatilists are not specialists per se - they may not be the best in their field. I don't imagine they are people who dedicate themselves to one lane or one focus in their life. Friedman describes them as hungry market players who are looking to take your job and your lunch because they are good at not one thing, but many things. Many things? Yeah, sounds like a repackaging of a renaissance man or woman, but I think its more. I may be out in left field when I say this but when I think of a renaissance man or woman, I think of someone who has dedicated their life to learning and becoming. I think of someone who understands that one side of their brain can help the other side develop - i think of people who accelerate their learning and understanding using the other half of their very own grey matter. It's a decent comparison but a versatilist is more.
Versatilists are not dedicated to learning as their sole focus. They are not dedicated to taking your job or your lunch/lunch money. They are not even dedicated to winning as an end goal... Okay, probably time to make this a first person narrative and clarify. I am dedicated to thriving in an environment where specialists may flounder and where entrepreneurs will struggle "to enter" and "to take" - this coming from a lack of understanding that being good at one thing is duct taped to the "build it and they will come" philosophy that has bankrupted so many. Being good or great at something isn't good enough when the market is flooded, or the buyer is poor, or the market volume is down and arbitrages are hard to find.
Just about everything documentary-like I see on Netflix is about a specialist killing it in their field, doing what they love and making an incredible career/path for their life. All I have heard from marketing specialists and market leaders is "niche down, niche down". The whole world is screaming at us as entrepreneurs to aim small and miss small but what the masses don’t take into consideration is...well, luck. Don’t forget to count the value of luck and good fortune in these narratives.Now, I don't doubt the drive or the success that I see or read but what does make me nervous is answering the question, "Is it replicable?" Is it replicable when the financial environment changes drastically, when the majority of investing individuals lose half of their 401k and can't retire as planned? Is it replicable when all the extra hours of work bring on sickness or anxiety and cost a family significant money and even break down the bread-winners? Maybe luck is a poor choice of words but from the several thousand business narratives I have studied, it's a poor characterization of the narrative to ignore the fact that those who have succeeded in their specialized fields did so when the financial environment was stable and even growing. Even with the correction in 2008 the market has flourished, people continue to work and save and all the while we are being subtly being sold the idea that everything is going to be fine.
I truly believe in the next 10-15 years we will see serious corrections in the financial markets which will put a stranglehold on middle class stability and middle class businesses and operators. A Versatilist sees this coming and has prepared - They have mastered the overarching narrative of their field (meta narrative) and neighboring fields and are ready to sell when the rest of the line is faltering. You and I can be ready when opportunity comes. We can be ready to take opportunities and move things forward when those around us stumble. We can do this because we'll know how to find freedom in the slimmest of margins. And most importantly, when people are panicked and scattered we can offer stability and grounding as the false financial narratives crumble.
I teach people how to find freedom in the tiny spaces of their life until the margins are truly noticeable. I teach people how to reorganize and restructure their time and thoughts on money to gain freedom--financial freedom, freedom of time and most importantly freedom of choice. I teach people how to become versatile and flatten their offering in the marketplace, especially when the whole world is being told to specialize. "Versatilist" may be a new word to you but its a path and lifestyle that will be paramount in this next season of the markets and marketplace.
If you're feeling stuck and anxious about your financial and career decisions, please reach out and let me help -- and in the meantime, keep coming back to the blog. We'll be posting more soon.
"from passion to purpose"
If there is one thing that can be said about PW Gopal, it is that his life is defined by his passions. He turned his passion into businesses that make a difference. PW started his first business at the age of 26. Since then, he has gone on to make a difference across the country with music and leadership. He has authored seven albums, and he is the founder of The Hundred Movement Inc., a NC based non-profit and learning collaborative designed to give women and children taken out of the U.S. sex trade long-term families.
PW is now the lead consultant for The Mechanics Group, a NC based business management and consulting firm. PW has taken his twenty years of experience of owning his own business to develop a coaching program which helps organizations grow in their capacity to change and positively impact their communities, from passion to purpose. PW and his wife, Amanda, live in Asheville, NC with their daughter, Caroline Rose.