Laser-focused hyper-niche-specialist? No thanks!

Medium is a pretty fascinating place for all sorts of niche writing. There’s no shortage of specific interests you can try to follow, and the writing is almost always of excellent quality. I frequently find myself immersed in an article that says it’s a 7 minute read, and wishing it was closer to 17 minutes, because the author has captured my attention and I’m enjoying the read.

There’s a subset of reading on Medium that I’ve followed intermittently that’s devoted to a combination of self-improvement advice and entrepreneurial cheerleading. It is usually engaging, occasionally uplifting, and for someone who is already pointed in a general direction, it’s a solid shove-down-the-hill-in-a-wooden-box-car to get your momentum started. I have no doubt there’s at least a dozen folks each day who read one (or several!) of these pieces and think “hell yeah!” and march off to go change the world. And they’re awesome.

But here’s my problem with them: they are all focused on building your brand in your niche. And in many cases, in a hyper-niche. Become the expert on this one thing and pound the ever-living-hell out of it, and people will start to seek you out as the expert on your one little plot of the internet, because you’re the go-to voice in that niche. That’s fine if you each, sleep, live, breathe your niche.

But what if you’re not a niche?

How do you ‘brand’ yourself when you’re not a hyper-specialist, but a generalist? How do you find recognition not as a laser-focused intensely-bright spot in your digital planet, but rather as a polymath?

What if you’re not a single-track focused subject matter expert?

What if you’re a jack-of-all-trades, and master of several of them?

The conventional wisdom that people will spout at you is always, invariable and inevitably “pick one!”

Screw. That.

Why should you voluntarily relinquish your interest in something, or your ability to project expertise in an area, just because it makes a branding expert’s job any easier? Why should you give up on something you’re passionate about to become an expert in an area where you know you’ll eventually burn out?

Why parallel everyone else’s beaten path under the guise of forging your own?

There’s got to be a better way. Anyone?

I’ve covered the challenges of the polymath a whole lot: here, here, here, here, and here. If you enjoyed this, please hit that magic clap button down there on the left, so other folks get a chance to see it, too. And please feel free to share your feedback — it’s great to read your reactions. Thanks!

Dad, husband, game commando, veteran, Army brat, writer, teacher

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