Should people focus on being specialists or generalists?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,503
    Goals expert Gary Ryan Blair discusses whether you should focus on being a specialist or a generalist.

    Gary Ryan Blair

    Gary is the President of The GoalsGuy Learning Systems, a highly focused training organization whose mission is to help their clients build and sustain superior performance. They accomplish this objective by helping their clients increase their sense of direction, confidence, and capability in all areas of their personal and professional life.

    Gary believes passionately in the enormous, untapped potential that resides within each person and is committed to providing individuals and corporations with tools of knowledge and skill they can use to unlock this potential. He has developed an entire library of world-class training programs, books and learning resources like the Personal Strategic Plan that are designed to make the heart sing, the mind expand and the spirit soar!

    To support his belief in the importance of goal setting and focus, Gary has established and sponsored two nationally recognized events: Youth Goals Education Week, a unique opportunity for kids and teens to learn about goal setting and its influence on their future, and New Year's Resolutions Week, an insightful series of activities designed to encourage people to set goals for their lives.

    Gary believes that life will not go according to plan, if you do not have a plan. He shares this belief and his unique strategies with school systems and companies around the world such as IBM, NASA, General Electric, Federal Express, Ford and many others.

    In addition to The GoalsGuy, Gary has created the wildly successful got goals?® campaign. It's mission is to inspire people to Be More, Do More and to ultimately Have More from life.

    His personal philosophy can be summarized into two words: Everything Counts!™ He believes in sweating the small stuff, and teaches that every action, word and thought either moves you toward or away from your goals, mission and ultimate legacy; that every moment offers an opportunity for advancement or retreat.

    When Gary speaks and writes, he does so from the heart, with warmth and humor. His unique gift is to speak to an audience and communicate with the heart of each person as if they were alone having an important, intimate conversation. A polished storyteller, he has a way of making the seemingly complex, easy to understand.

    Gary, his wife Erika, son Ryan, and daughter Libby live in Tampa, Florida with their two wonder-dogs Beefcake and Pork chop.

    Host: Should people focus on being specialist or generalist?

    Gary Ryan Blair: So if you take the time to look at generalist or specialist, should you focus on one or the other? The answer, very simply, focus on being a specialist. Now let me give you the argument as to why. Let's just look at professions for a just a moment, we'll pick a few, we'll take medicine, we'll take a law, and then we will use a couple of other examples to drive this point home. Years ago when the Attorney came out of Law School, they would focus on being a general practitioner and this is -- we're just going back just a number of years now and what's happening nowadays is that general practitioners in a legal profession are extinct, they are out of business, you do not find them anymore.

    What you will find is drive down any city and any -- for the most part even in any country and what are going to find nowadays is there are bankruptcy Attorneys, there are divorce Attorneys, there are Attorneys that are just focusing on different areas of business of law, real estate and so forth. What they have done is they have picked their spot and if you went to a bankruptcy Attorney and told him that you had a speeding ticket they would direct you to somebody who is specializes in speeding tickets.

    The entire legal profession, many of the ones or the ones who are really smart, who is wised up, they have removed every single option, they have removed. Let's just say we're focusing right now on someone who does DWI Attorney, they have removed bankruptcy, they have removed divorce, they have removed real estate, they have removed everything else and they have everything they can to focus, dominate and own the DWI market in their area, smart decision and that's where the big money is being made.

    Same example happens now in medicine as well, if you are going into an ill mate, you got a specialist, for rhinoplasty you go into a specialist that relates towards an urologist, you get a specialist for everything. All medicine is specialized, you will not find an urologist who is basically going to talk to you about something that a podiatrist would for your foot, it's just not going to happen. That's something that part of their conservation. Few other examples to make this point very very pronounced, even look at television for just a moment, the major broadcasting stations, the ABC, CBS and NBC, terribly unfocused, if you look at their market share, they have been losing consistently since the 1960s.

    ABC, CBS and NBS have no real focus other than sell advertising. In the morning you turn on, first thing you are going to find is some kind of a talk show, that's going to be a morning news, then you'll have a religious or something like that, you will have the game show, midday news, soap operas, another opera or some kind of a talk show or something like that. Then you'll have the news, again in the evening, you'll have an entertainment show, maybe some type of the drama, some comedy they put together and usually in the evening that's going to be adult, something to do with sex, murder, cops, robbers, guns and crime scene investigating stuff like this and then of course late night entertainment and then infomercials.

    That's the problem, where the money is being made right now, where the market share is going or the companies that are focused. Comedy center does one thing, they focus on comedy. Weather channel does one thing, focus on weather. You are going to want to turn your attention towards Nickelodeon, they have identified there market, they become specialist in programming for small children and that is true for the History Channel, that is true for the Bravo Channel, that is true for everything out there and what you'll find is that the folks on cable understand how to focus big.

    The same thing is true when to comes to retail. The Sears and the JCPenneys and Masseys, they try to be all things to all people. They are losing market share to the folks that become specialist, The Gap, Victoria's Secret, Yankee Candles, all of those places have decided exactly what their core competency is. They have designed a whole series of products and services to support that core market, that target market and they are not deviated by the net result, extremely profitable, other's are the major companies and try to be all things to all people, fortunately losing a lot of market share. That's the reason why you need to focus.