A Jack of All Trades is a Master of None


When I graduated college, my cousin – who fancied himself a bit of an entrepreneur – cornered me during my graduation party.

“What is it you’d like to do?” he asked.

I proceeded to list every skill I had; from branding and logo work, copy-writing, social media (and this was still when MySpace was a thing), to large-scale marketing campaign design. Again, I’d just graduated college, and figured I was ready to take on the world.

My cousin sipped a bit of wine, sat back on his heels, and smirked.

“Really? You’re going to do all of that?”

Nervously I stammered my way through my thought process. I had no idea what the world would want from me, and because it was more important to me I get started than having a plan… I figured the smart money was to say I did it all, and see what sticks.

My cousin poked me in the chest – nicely at first – and got very serious.

“Listen to me, Marc. A jack of all trades is a master of none. No one will do business with you if they suspect your only talent is doing a lot of things satisfactorily. You don’t get your haircut by a dog groomer. You don’t by computer from a calculator company. You need to do what you do best, and only that. If you can write copy? Great. But if that’s not what you want to do, then don’t pretend it’s worth it to do it anyways.”

It was, to date, the single best piece of advice I’d ever been given about business. About branding. About creating a culture of success. Both for myself, and for the litany of businesses I’ve personally supported throughout my career.

Not to be too preachy about what DreamCSX does, mind you, but in this case, it’s truly hard not to draw the correlation.

Simply put, DreamCSX was founded on this very principle – or so I’d like to think. You, as a business owner clearly do something better than anyone else. No matter the widget you make or the service you offer… there is a single reason beneath all the clutter, that separates you from all the rest. And even when the product is matched spec-for-spec, or the service doesn’t even differ in task, your business has a unique position to market itself.

And if you’re not spending every moment you can defining that unique position, perfecting your product line, or cultivating a culture around your brand… you’re wasting the most potent resource your business has. Sundry tasks deluge us daily, don’t they? Hiring new staff, training new staff, dealing with inter-personal issues, or managing any undue number of daily gripes can sandbag the momentum you should have in pushing your business to be the most successful it can be.

If I were a salesman, perhaps this would be the time when I start laying into a heavy pitch about DreamCSX, and how it helps specifically rid businesses of these sundry issues. But that’s not me. That’s not what I want to do – here, or anywhere else for that matter. What I’m good at (if you read what I had to say last week – linking to last week’s blog here) is communicating. And that’s why I’m going to stop the hard sell, and leave you with some homework to make your business better.

  1. Write down, right now, what your business does best.
  2. Underneath it, write down what is the single unique factor that separates you from all of your competitors (be it your value, your precision, your customer experience, etc.)
  3. Now, write down 10 physical tasks that bog you down during the work week that specifically get in the way of you communicating #2 and #1 to your customers.
  4. Stand back, have a sip of wine, and say this loudly to yourself….

A jack of all trades is a master of none.

Marc Fishman is proud to be DreamCSX’s Marketing Dreamer.