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Are you a Specialist or a Generalist? If not what?

25 Aug

When you introduce yourself and what you do, do you use the word ‘generalist’ or ‘specialist’ to describe yourself?

I use neither, because I’ve always had problems with both terms. I am not saying both are wrong, but they have not been an ideal fit. Here is my problem:

A Generalist made me come across as trying to do a bit of this and a bit of that, and not really have in-depth knowledge of both ends. Maybe I was talking to a wrong audience. Maybe I was cut off by the person asking a question –this was before the concept of a 140-character pitch! – and did not have time to qualify with some details.

A Specialist sounded fancy at that time, but did not resonate with me because it made me feel like I was capable of one thing and one thing only. From my agency life I realized that a writer who doesn’t understand design, and a designer who doesn’t appreciate the nuances of language is not a great asset. Today’s specialists are different. I’ve met writers who are deep into interactive media, and web geeks who are podcasters and closet citizen journalist.

So my question  to you is: What label best fits you –Generalist or Specialist? Or do you have a better one?

I am reminded of what Silvia Cambie, author and communicator told me when I interviewed her earlier this month. “The communicator of the future will need to be an integrator able to aggregate info and understand new cultural settings,” she said.

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Posted by on August 25, 2009 in Communications, Social Media

 

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