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Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Layering Modest Skills to Produce Exceptional Results

One of my all-time favorite books, which I read a few years ago but still sticks with me is 'How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big' by Scott Adams, who is most well known for being the creator of the cartoon, Dilbert. In the book, Adams argues that the most practical way to achieve successful results is not by trying to become world class in any one particular skill, but rather layering and building up modest skills until they create a formidable 'Talent Stack' that has the ability to produce exceptional results.

Here is Scott Adams' Talent Stack that led him to become a successful cartoonist
  1. Artistic talent (mediocre)
  2. Writing talent (simple and persuasive, but not Pulitzer-worthy)
  3. Business skills (Good, not amazing)
  4. Marketing and PR (good, not great)
  5. Social media skills (mediocre)
  6. Persuasion skills (above average, but not Trump-like)
And here is my Talent Stack that is helping me to become a successful Architect-Developer 
  1. Architectural design abilities (good, not amazing)
  2. Construction knowledge (good, not great)
  3. Real estate understanding (above average)
  4. Public speaking (good, not amazing)
  5. Social media skills (mediocre)
  6. Project management (average)
The Talent Stack strategy is an example of a systems approach to success as opposed to a goals approach to success, which is a central theme raised in the book and explained quite effectively in the animated video short below.