There's been some talk lately about the benefits of being a generalist versus being a specialist. The idea being that you are more valuable as a generalist working at a certain level of skill, as opposed to a specialist in a particular realm of endeavor. And in some ways I can see that. I mean, if I wanted to hire someone to work at FortySeven Media, I'd be pretty drawn to the person who could do it all.
So, why do we want a person who can do it all anyway? For companies, it means a smaller team. And that smaller team can mean bigger profits and agility. It is a very tempting proposition. For individuals, it means you are more valuable as a potential hire or contractor.
To an extent, even Jon and I have run with this thinking, and for the most part, it's been good to us. However, I'm finding out that it might not be the best thing in the long run. Let's have a look the cost of being a skilled generalist.
Nate and I have been thinking a lot lately about simplifying our lives, both personally and professionally. Not that we have crazy lives, really. Unless you call crazy taking your 4 kids who are 7 and under out to eat by yourself crazy. Like I did last night. And it was a little crazy.
But seriously, we've been pondering how all the things we've placed in our lives might actually be keeping us from staying focused. Apparently decision fatigue is a real thing. You know those people who scream about how important it is to have unlimited choices? Yeah I'm not so sure it's such a good idea.
Maybe the reason we find it so hard to even have the brain space to deal with big picture stuff is because we've spent all day knee deep in inconsequential decisions?
Turns out you can only make so many decisions in a day, and if we're wasting them on low level tasks like what to eat, what to wear or even what item to do right now then we don't have the same amount of mental prowess when it comes time for the big, important decisions.
This isn't web related at all, but it's a superhydrophobic spray-on coating that repels water, mud, ice and other liquids. Say what? Yeah it's as crazy as it sounds. Just watch. It's like science fiction!
For those of you keeping track, we started Kicktastic back in June of 2012. The idea was to take what we learned using the Kick Awesome Show to make more money and have more fun, turn it into a product and sell it. That plan morphed into a subscription based model where we would keep creating content each week, interview other awesome business owners and share the knowledge.
With people paying us each month we really felt obligated to crunch out the content—nearly 100 videos and 50 blog posts in a little over a year. I'm getting tired just thinking about that.
And though we made a bit of money, we just felt like something was missing. After lots of conversations, feedback from people we trust, and some inspiring talks at World Domination Summit 2013, we finally figured it out:
For a small web shop, creating estimates and quotes can be a joy killer. I just want to make stuff, man - not write out endless spec documents! It's true. Being old school print designers let me tell you how this process went for years:
Open up our quote InDesign document
Save it as a new file
Pour over every legal aspect to make sure it was right
Do the whole spec part of the job in the middle
Make sure all the styles were right so it would look awesome
Do all the math (arghhh)
Save as a PDF
And. We. Hated. It.
When we rebuilt and re-designed the site last year we knew some things had to change. First of all, we didn't want to go through that huge document and re-do all the styles. Bleh. Second of all, it had become a huge bottleneck and we wanted to fix that.
I've started illustrating my thoughts. This is one from today.
Inside your head, everything is a good idea. It's a magical place where you are always doing awesome things, having awesome ideas, and generally high fiving yourself all the time at how awesome you are.
Outside your head is the awesome crushing or confirming world of reality.
The only way an idea is going to do anything, is when it gets out of your head and into the heads of other people. Those other people will then confirm your awesomeness, or crush it with the multi-smashular sledgehammer known as honest criticism. Which is a very kind thing even though it is super painful.
Jon does this for me all the time. My brain is a fountain of crazy vision. He stands by with said sledgehammer, helping me weed them down through survival of the fittest. It is then that I can tell others about this or begin making whatever it was.
Got an idea? Let it enter the ring below in the comments.
I've only been to San Francisco once, but it left a huge impression on me. The landscape and fog were pretty magical. But this. This video take it to another level. I've never seen fog swell and crash like the ocean. Pull this up full screen, turn up the sound and get ready to be amazed.
Somewhere, a long time ago, they wrote the rules. You know, those rules where we lose and they win. They, Them, and The Man. They got together and figured out how to keep us down.
The funny thing is that the only thing holding this system together is that we all seem to agree that these rules should be followed. As the people of this planet, we've mostly been duped into thinking that things are the way they are and “That's just how it is.”
We look at the options given to us by the world and feel like we have to choose from what we've been offered and what we think we can do. It's as if we've been waiting in line to receive our lot in life, watching everyone else get amazing opportunities and we're excited to see what we get. Then, it's our turn. We walk up to the counter, wide-eyed and ready for the significant, meaningful adventure of a life we'd been rehearsing to pass the time in line.
You've probably heard us talk about Stripe before. It's a great alternative to Paypal or a merchant account with your bank. But it's built for developers. Trying to just sell one off products or classes with it - or maybe even accept payment for a service is kind of difficult.
Let me tell you that creating our first product has been a grand adventure. Our little web design business training membership program has gone through a ton of changes. Some big (like bringing a partner on) and some small (like the endless tweaking we've done).
And that's not including the content. In fact, since we launched last year we've created over 65 videos and nearly 30 blog articles. Dang. Nap, anyone?
But back to the changes. We've got some exciting news for you guys:
Nate and I became internet friends with Allan Branch & Steve Bristol of LessEverything about 6 years ago when they wrote a short post about our “Don't Hire Us” page. Many tweets and recriprocal blog posts later, we finally got to meet them at their second LessConf. And we found an even closer friendship with those guys. They totally got us.
Back to LessConf, though - we really enjoyed that conference and came back every year after that, but I think it wasn't until the 5th and final one last week that I fully understood what LessConf was.
You see, Allan & Steve like to make a spectacle. They know how to create things that people talk about. Seven hour hugs on stage. Gourmet popsicles. Milk and cookie breaks. Complimentary massages. The list could go on. Trust me.
What are you doing next Thursday? Maybe you'd like to learn how to make your business freakishly profitable?
Turns out the Kicktastic crew is doing a 3 hour workshop at ConvergeSE on Thursday, April 25th about that very thing!
We've been there - getting worn out on small processes and tasks, not making enough money, getting lost in tedious client work and having cashflow problems. We want to help. We'll give you practical tips for turning pain into profit - and we'll have lots of fun doing it.
Yes, we know it's been a year since the last Kick Awesome Show. But today we're back! We've got tons of high fives, our favorite spam comment, a cool new shirt and we'll explain where we've been for a whole year!
This has been out for a while, but it's still super cool. IdeaPaint CLEAR lets you create a whiteboard on top of any wall without turning it white! So if you have a rad neon orange wall that you'd like to be able to write on with dry erase markers this will make it happen. It's not cheap, but if your high end hipster office needs some functionality on top of the meticulously chosen colored walls go get some IdeaPaint!
I don't think I've ever seen a more patient, talented and humble craftsman. This video of how John Mayer found David Smith and commissioned him to do the artwork for the cover of his album is just astounding. Not only does David come up with the album artwork, but also creates two beautiful reverse glass panels and the whole thing is documented for you to see.
The sketches alone at the end of this video make me want to never pick up a pencil again, but the level of detail and artistry that goes into each of David's pieces is just mind blowing. It's a must watch!
For Christmas last year, Nate and I wanted to do something special for our clients. We pondered and thought and decided, “what better way to show our clients we love them than to send them a custom designed t-shirt that says we love them!?!?!?!” Clearly because we are geniuses.
After much sketching, hand crafting and designing we came up with “Two Hairy Guys in Tennessee Love Me.”
Like our strange little dentist friend in the picture above, we all want to be that happy doing the work we have dreamed about doing. Most of us come preinstalled with a desire to do work that we enjoy. It is as if we know that it is possible to provide for ourselves and not hate doing so.
Unfortunately, most of us are also completely terrible at pulling this off. Even if we have pretty good jobs that we mostly like, it seems like that magical dream job is always dangling just out of reach. Why is that?
It's that time of year again, folks! Our favorite conference, ConvergeSE is back and the tickets are on sale now. They sold out in about 2 hours last year so speed it up and get on over there. Converge will be held in Columbia, SC on April 25-27.
We're super excited because this year we are doing a Kicktastic workshop on the first day of the conference. It will be a blast, we promise!
So go get your tickets now before they're gone. Trust us, you need to come to ConvergeSE 2013.