Asymmetrical Information: - Sent Using Google Toolbar

Asymmetrical Information:

Scott Adams has an interesting post on success:

If you want an average successful life, it doesn't take much planning. Just stay out of trouble, go to school, and apply for jobs you might like. But if you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:

1. Become the best at one specific thing.
2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. Few people will ever play in the NBA or make a platinum album. I don't recommend anyone even try.

The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I'm hardly an artist. And I'm not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I'm funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It's the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it. . . . Capitalism rewards things that are both rare and valuable. You make yourself rare by combining two or more "pretty goods" until no one else has your mix.

At least one of the skills in your mixture should involve communication, either written or verbal. And it could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That's one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that's the thing you'll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%. If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking, develop that too.

It sounds like generic advice, but you'd be hard pressed to find any successful person who didn't have about three skills in the top 25%.

What are your three?

Obviously, I'm not an economist. And I don't think that Jonathan Franzen, or even Malcolm Gladwell, are looking over their shoulders, worrying that my deft prose styling might knock them off their perch. As far as I can tell, this is a complete list of all my talents:

1) I read fast
2) I write better than perhaps 90% of my countrymen.
3) I understand a modicum of economics
4) I have lovely handwriting, and know how to write a good thank-you note
5) I can produce dinner for eight with two hour's lead time
6) I can imitate Neil Young and Christian Slater

Yet I have parlayed these limited talents into a blogging/journalistic career lucrative enough to keep the wolf away from the door. Like Scott Adams and the script producer he talks about at the beginning of the post, I did so randomly, by stumbling upon something that very few people were doing at all, much less well, and tricking media companies into paying me for it. If the management consulting firm for which I was supposed to have worked hadn't blown up rather spectacularly in 2001, there would be no blog, or journalism career. Funny how things work out.

Update Sorry, bad taste alert. "Blown up" is the fairly common term for companies that undergo severe financial crises. No lives were lost in the process.