When comparing small towns to big cities, there’s an obvious yet interesting difference between restaurants. This difference can teach us something about our careers.
In small towns, you tend to see variations on catch-all diners. Standard foods, big menus and maybe they do pie pretty well. We likely associate these places with comfort and routine.
Contrast that with modern big-city restaurants and eateries. You tend to see a ridiculous amount of specialization. These types of food/drink spots may have a couple menu items, but they’re probably known for that one thing. It’s the thing that’s been publicized, Instagramed and awarded to death. We likely associate these places with experience and artisanship.
Both scenarios make perfect sense, right? What I’m depicting is the simple reality of a free market system in two extremes. With little to no competition, businesses obviously seek to maximize their offerings and satisfy the needs of as many people as possible. In a highly saturated market with high competition and seemingly endless options for consumers, there comes the need to diversify and specialize, of course.
Now let’s turn this same lens on us. Where do you fit at this stage in your career? Do you serve in a jack-of-all-trades role or a highly specialized one? Are you working in a diner or a cronut shop? I would argue that both roles are valuable at different times in any professional path. You may go back and forth.
However, consider now that we’re all beginning to live in “The biggest city in the world.” Geographical and other constraints are blurring more and more every year. Digital work is instantly accessible around the world (…and so is the competition for that work).
Along with a solid foundation, experience and agileness, specialization is now paramount for building a personal brand and ultimately doing work that matters.
Whatever your present career situation, imagine if you began doing even one aspect of your work really, really well. What would be the ripple effects?
What would happen if you ran with it and became THE guy/gal in your company for that one thing?
The rewards? Maybe a new job (and job title) that didn’t even exist yet. Maybe a new team or department. Maybe a new company. Maybe even a new industry.
When you look at your menu, what do you see?