Feb 16, 2020
The power of being a generalist is a major advantage to an entrepreneur. Join me as I recount my struggle to niche down and specialize until I finally had enough and said, “Screw that! I do not need to specialize in something!” This is my journey to becoming a proud generalist.
Automated Transcript Below:
Dean Soto 0:00
Hey, this is Dean Soto founder of FreedomInFiveMinutes.com and ProSulum.com. We're here again with another Freedom In Five Minutes podcast episode.
Dean Soto 0:15
Today's topic is this: Specialists in Your Business & in Any Business are Stupid. That and more, coming up...
Dean Soto 0:32
Well, good evening! I just took my son. Right now, we're at his martial arts class. I'm going to be walking around, you're going to hear some cars in the background, but that's okay. Let's just talk. Let's talk, all right?
Dean Soto 0:52
Growing up... Let me let me go rewind the clock a bit. Shall we? Growing up, I always had this issue. It reared its ugly head predominantly in school at first but then it started rearing its head in the workplace too when I started getting into my full time job.
Dean Soto 1:33
During elementary school all the way up into college, I really had no idea what I wanted to do. I remember – gosh, it really was from the time I met my wife when I even decided on an actual true major. I was majoring in Japanese and then I majored in music. Eventually I was like, "You know what? Screw this." I just wanted to get out of school. I wanted to get my degree because my wife wasn't going to marry me if I didn't have it. I'm just going to do business. Business Administration. It was the easiest, it was the fastest. And it looks good on my resume if I was going to get a job that paid well.
Dean Soto 2:33
The thing about Business Administration was – and I still remember to this day – I was working at a company I don't even think exists in the same way anymore. I was working at a company called DMJM+Harris. DMJM Harris, and it was a Civil Engineering company. Within the organization, I want to say there was probably 50 people – everything from civil engineers, structural engineers, to finance to accountants to project schedulers, etc... I was an administrative assistant there.
Dean Soto 2:33
It was really cool because it was one of the funnest jobs. And no joke, it was one of the funnest jobs I had. I couldn't put my finger on why I actually enjoyed that job as much as I did but I'll get to why that is in just a little bit. The thing about this organization was there was obviously a lot of skilled people, especially in structural engineering. They're building bridges or roads or building things that perhaps billions of people are driving over and those things have to be perfect.
Dean Soto 6:02
You might be thinking, "Dean, what's the big deal? Really. It's not that big of a deal."
Dean Soto 6:10
Well, for me, I had already spent years going throughout school and getting hounded by councillors as to what I wanted to do. What cog in the wheel did I want to be, right? And I could never decide. There was nothing. There's nothing where I need to dive into so much. There's nothing where I can fall so deeply in love with this thing that I wanted to go. I dabbled in programming and it was fun. Then I dabbled in music, it was fun. But I can only get so far.
Dean Soto 6:53
Everyone was telling me, "You never want to be a jack of all trades and master of none. You are never going to get rich that way. You are never going to see any success that way."
Dean Soto 7:07
When she said that I was like "Crap, I think I'm totally destined just to be this wandering guy who really doesn't know what he's doing and I'm never gonna make anything of myself."
Dean Soto 7:27
It's interesting because right about that time I was applying to Boeing Aerospace. I did not have my bachelor's degree at that time but I did have a security clearance. That was a big thing for Boeing.
Dean Soto 7:49
In my resume when I was applying, I applied for this industrial security job – I didn't quite know what it was. But it sounded like it wasn't armed security. I wasn't wearing a uniform or anything like that. It was more like protecting government secrets. So, I thought, "Wow that's kind of cool! That sounds pretty interesting."
Dean Soto 8:30
You know, honestly, it was still the "fastest" degree. I'm like, "Screw it. I'm going to be destined to this life anyway. I'm just gonna go for it. I'm just gonna keep going." If I'm going to be this poor jack of all trades, master of none, then that's the way it's going to be. I cannot specialize. It's so hard for me to specialize in anything.
Dean Soto 8:53
Lo and behold, as I was working at this civil engineering company, I ended up getting this callback for the position at Boeing and I had an interview. I ended up getting hired.
Dean Soto 9:18
I'm like, "Wait a minute, this is interesting. I didn't think that this would happen. That's pretty cool."
Dean Soto 9:25
I let everyone know at this civil engineering company that I was working for. They were super happy for me. They offered me a job beforehand but it definitely wasn't nearly as much pay so they were happy for me. They gave me a going away lunch and I went to Boeing.
Dean Soto 9:52
It was there that I was like, "Hmm, this is actually pretty cool..." because the industrial engineering job was pretty General. I mean, it had everything from computer security to document control, document security that had physical security. I was climbing the rafters. I was helping to build buildings. I was doing all of this stuff. This is actually really cool.
Dean Soto 10:19
This whole thing that nobody ever talks about in any type of school that was making good money. And it was perfect for a generalist. As I'm doing this, I'm like, "This is awesome. I like it."
Dean Soto 10:40
But it was only at that time when I started to wonder why I liked that administration job so much. I love that administration job so much because I got to talk and help structural engineers. I was doing formulas, popping and creating elaborate spreadsheets that would auto calculate and auto do all the stuff for these engineers; and learning what they needed, how they needed it to go, what needed to be rounded up, and figure out how to make certain things not round up.
Dean Soto 11:16
I even got to these really specialized way of doing formulas in Excel. I learned a ton of stuff in Excel. And so I'm dealing with structural engineers and project schedules. I'm dealing with all these different people. I'm like, Wow, this is so fun. Yet again, with the industrial security, it was the same thing. I'm dealing with engineers I'm dealing with computer security guys, I'm dealing with IT guys I'm dealing with contractors, construction workers, with all these people. This is so cool, and I loved it.
Dean Soto 11:53
I was getting promoted left and right because it was my wheelhouse. I didn't want to specialize in anything. I love the fact that I knew a good amount of all this stuff. I was learning more and more every day. Oh my gosh, it was so wonderful. It was amazing.
Dean Soto 12:15
I got deep into the computer security side of things. They ended up hiring me as a computer security specialist eventually and that was really amazing as well. I'm getting all excited. I'm obviously making a lot more money with that because it's a more technical job and doing a lot of cool things.
Dean Soto 12:37
And then it all came crashing down. Not money wise, it was fine. Not job wise, everything was fine.
Dean Soto 12:51
I got pigeonholed into computer security. There were two ways out. One, leave my job to get promoted to computer security regional management. That was not going to happen because there was one of those jobs and the person who was already there was going to stay for a long time. There was one position like that in all of the western United States. So that wasn't going to happen.
Dean Soto 13:29
Or, I truly deeply specialize as much as I possibly could into computer security. Well, I tried. I honestly tried my hardest. I tried my hardest to make that happen. I tried so hard to really get nerdy and deep and technical and super specific into computer security.
Dean Soto 13:57
But you know what happened? It was extremely painful to the point where I was getting depressed. I was drinking a lot. I hated my job, I could not see a way out. It was so horrible.
Dean Soto 14:14
Like, for me, it just was killing me. I and it got to the point where because a lot of the stuff that I was doing was much more of project management anyway, I would complete a project super super quickly, and then sit around doing nothing because I really did not like the subject anymore. It was getting so boring. It was super valuable to the company because I can come in, fix what needed to be fixed when it came to getting government compliance with computers and everything like that.
Dean Soto 14:43
They could bring me in when people were failing. That's government inspections and all other stuff. They bring me in, get everything up to speed, get everything fixed, and then boom, we're all done. Everything's good to go. That would happen over and over again. The vast majority of the time – because I was not interested in the subject – I'm like, this sucks, I'm done. I'm trying to do better, but I can't get anywhere because it's too specialized. I was feeling like the biggest failure.
Dean Soto 15:19
It wasn't until I became an entrepreneur where I'm leading probably over 100 people or more in building organizations, when I'm supporting client after client and doing all of this general stuff from accounting to payroll by myself and our core team of four people – the core team of four people – those other people who work for me. They work specifically for my clients doing all of these, that I started to see specializing sucks.
Dean Soto 16:16
I mean, they say, Oh yeah, you can't really make a lot of money if you're not specializing... Yeah, maybe in the employee world. Maybe in the employee world that's true but I'm doing just fine. I can work pretty much as little or as long – as as much as I want to. And I make way more money, and I'm not doing this to brag. I make way more money than I ever did as a specialist. It's not meant to brag.
Dean Soto 16:49
This is for those people out there who are a generalist when you just didn't really know what you wanted to do. This is for you. For all those people who say, "Oh, you need to specialize in something." Screw that. You don't. You don't.
Dean Soto 17:11
There are plenty of opportunities out there. And there are plenty of things that make you so valuable. I like to say that I specialize in generalization. I specialize in being a general. I guess the highest ranking people in the military are their generals. Right? Why are they called generals? Because they know they know a good amount of everything but don't specialize in any of it. And they lead those who are specialized, right?
Dean Soto 17:46
Why is this important? It's important because specializing in your business as well, I think, is so dumb. This is why we have Virtual Systems Architects at ProSulum.com and FreedomInFiveMinutes.com because these guys – I have a core team of four people. They do everything from design to copywriting, recruiting, accounting, payroll, invoicing, accounts receivable, accounts payable... they they do everything. Everything.
Dean Soto 18:19
If I was going to go the traditional route of business, I would have 50 people working for me all in some stupid department all doing one thing in one department. For four people in one department doing all that stuff, my overhead costs would go through the roof.
Dean Soto 18:41
When I see these organizations that have their bookkeeper and then they have their accounts receivable person. They have their accounts payable person. They have their marketer there. They have their advertisers they have all of these specialized people. You guys are retarded. And if you're listening to this right now you're probably thinking I'm the biggest jerk.
Dean Soto 19:06
But honestly, the way that things can be done if you use systems and if you document everything you're doing, you do not have to specialize and have those specialists in your business because they suck up so much resources. So many resources and they kill your overhead. They destroy your overhead.
Dean Soto 19:28
So how is it that Matt from Camrock is able to do with only a few people – two VSAs and only a few people – he's able to do what his other competitors do with hundreds of people. It's because he does not specialize. He doesn't get all these specialized people. He has people he can train with systems. They have processes to do whatever they need to do. But they're generalists and they're able to do so many different things in that business. So it's able to grow exponentially. All that being said, rethink the idea of specializing.
Dean Soto 20:23
If you need copywriting, your first gut instinct should not be "I need to hire a copywriter." If you need marketing, like a social media manager, your first gut instinct should not be "I need to hire a Social Media Manager." Your gut instinct needs to change with the times, which is "How can I build systems and processes – some documentation around the process of social media management?" Get it all documented, have someone do that, and then have someone do that bookkeeping. Have that same person, who does bookkeeping, do the social media management. Have the same person, who's doing social media management, do accounts receivable and collections.
Dean Soto 21:10
How can he make that happen and get out of this realm of specialization?
Dean Soto 21:16
When you do, you'll see that your overhead costs will drop significantly. Significantly. And your revenue will – more than likely – grow exponentially because you have these few people who are able to do everything and giving you the ability to be creative and grow in several different ways as well.
Dean Soto 21:31
All that being said, I have to go pick up my son. His class is done. So, I will catch you in the next Freedom In Five Minutes podcast episode.
Dean Soto 21:56
This is Dean Soto. Freedom In Five Minutes. Go check out FreedomInFiveMinutes.com. There's a masterclass there that talks about everything that I'm talking about here. I also did a four-part video series at ProSulum.com. P-R-O-S-U-L-U-M.com. It goes through in several days. It's really good as well. Go check out either one of those things and you'll see the power of what is able to be accomplished.
Dean Soto 22:23
So excited for you guys to get into more of the generalization. I'm a proud generalist that specializes in generalization. I'll catch you in the next Freedom In Five Minutes episode. This is Dean Soto. FreedomInFiveMinutes.com and I'll catch you in the next Freedom In Five Minutes podcast episode.