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The Rise Of The Generalist (How To Thrive With Multiple Interests)

We’re in the middle of a second renaissance.

But only a select few people can see what’s going on.

Even fewer people are actually taking advantage of it.

Can you see it?

  • The creator economy is growing at an exponential rate.
  • People don’t trust traditional jobs or schooling to secure their future.
  • People are turning to creators to educate them on the skills necessary to thrive in a fast-changing digital environment.
  • AI, automation, and software have made business more accessible to people who want to do what they enjoy for a living.
  • People are working less, earning more, and leveraging technology to remove themselves from the old society.
  • People are craving human connection online from people with personalities, not glorified search engines who talk about one specialized interest.

These are all connected to the fact that technology has changed the way we work, the opportunities we have for work, and what justifies valuable work.

If you want to do what you enjoy for a living, you’re living in the right time period.

The internet has decentralized wealth generation to individuals who value self-education, personal responsibility, and amounting to something in your life by doing good work.

A few problems have led to this.

1) Specialists compete with other specialists.

A specialist is someone who attempts to achieve a goal with a single interest or skill.

Like a bodybuilder with fitness.

Or only playing one role/class/character in a video game.

Or performing a mechanical string of tasks at a job.

Being a specialist made sense in the Industrial Age but not in the Information Age.

When a bodybuilder gets injured, they either get bored and stop making progress or start from scratch.

When you get countered in a video game, or someone is already playing your role, you are at a massive disadvantage.

When your work consists of the same thing over and over again, not only are you a prime candidate for replacement, but life loses its zest because there is no challenge or novel goal that brings meaning to life… your time shrivels up because all you can focus on is working all day, being tired all night, paying the bills, hoping your family doesn’t leave you, and the rest.

On the other hand, generalists are diverse and interesting.

Most people think that in order to become successful, they have to be really good at one thing.

Social media has distorted how we perceive value.

You don’t need chiseled six-pack abs and a spray tan to impress others and generate attention.

Most people find it impressive to have a tiny bit of muscle mass, be able to do a few pull-ups and have a life outside of fitness.

Pair that with a writing hobby and some psychology knowledge and you open up a world of opportunities from random people on the internet (that you wouldn’t have been able to get in front of in the past).

In the second renaissance, you don’t need to be exceptional at one thing, you need to be average at many.

2) The internet favors the generalist.

When I first started in business I was bombarded with the advice to “niche down.”

The riches are in the niches, so they say.

And don’t just niche down a bit, niche so far down that you only have a small pool of people you can help with the skill you’ve learned.

It makes sense, but in my eyes, it’s outdated advice.

Social media is at the forefront of attention.

Things like paid ads and cold emails – you know, the things absolutely nobody likes doing – require you to get specific on your messaging so you can find, target, and get your work in front of specific people. If you don’t understand this, take my free one-person business foundations course.

As marketing shifts more and more to organic content on social media, this just isn’t the case.

With content, your work is exposed to diverse audiences because that’s just how social media works.

  • The algorithm
  • Reposts and shares
  • Comments from random people

They all launch you into unpredictable audiences.

And, people aren’t on social media to learn or buy (at least when they log on to social media until they come across something beneficial to their lives). They’re there to be entertained. So, you need to adapt your strategy accordingly.

If your message is too niche, people will scroll right past it.

Instead, you have to attract a diverse audience with a range of interests and then persuade them of the importance of the skill you aim to monetize.

If all you talk about is what you sell, people will catch on that fast.

I would rather have a diverse 100,000-follower audience than a niche 10,000-follower audience because I understand how to educate people.

I will teach you how to do this soon.

3) Labor work is more replaceable than ever.

Society has set you up to fail.

We are in the middle of a spiritual war of beliefs.

Older generations haven’t allowed their identity to be challenged with the changing landscape. Their mind still lives in a time when it was smart to go to school, get a job, and work until you die with the possibility of a good retirement.

It’s not their fault… that’s just human nature. It takes time for belief systems to evolve on a collective scale.

The problem is that people will claw and fight so that you don’t change. As much as they say they do it out of love for you, the reality is that their identity is threatened when you do better than them.

The path of the Second Renaissance Man requires mental strength and fortitude.

You must have conviction in your beliefs that you have more potential than getting a job that a robot can replace within 5-10 years.

I don’t need to tell you that most schooling and job options are outdated when you can go to any news or reporting site and see for yourself.

Why Generalists Thrive In The Creator Economy

Only slaves are expected to perform one task for their entire life.

That’s what our current education and employment system reflects.

Wage slavery is a very real thing.

On the other hand, a “free man” is defined as someone who acts on their interests and does many things throughout their life.

If you don’t create a goal, you will be assigned one, and society is great at handing out goals to those who can’t think for themselves.

A generalist is someone who learns all relevant knowledge and skills out of interest of achieving a goal in their life.

This came naturally for me, as I’m sure it has for many people reading this.

I’m grateful I have an audience that can relate to my failures.

So, for those who are in the trenches, I want to provide some clarity.

I failed at dropshipping, e-commerce, SEO, digital art, and more.

But in the pursuit of my business goals, I stacked an irreplaceable set of skills.

One or two skills didn’t bring me much in terms of results.

But five… six… seven skills allowed me to spot and act on profitable opportunities because I had more tools to solve more problems.

Dropshipping taught me branding so I could stand out from bigger brands with low shipping times.

E-commerce taught me advertising and product design so I could be more attention-grabbing.

Digital art taught me graphic design and the nuances of building an audience on social media.

Notice how I didn’t study endless tutorials to learn those skills. I set a goal of working for myself, started a project, and practiced those skills while educating myself along the way.

All of those “failures” were the reason I can do what I do today.

There are 2 reasons why this story matters.

1) Failure Stacking Makes You Irreplaceable

Most people know what “skill stacking” is.

It’s like a diversified stock portfolio.

Rather than investing all of your money in one stock – like a specialist – that sets you up for catastrophe, you invest in various stocks to increase your chances at success.

Even if one stock drops, a few others may go up and you will still be at a profit.

If you were going to be in the NBA or have a platinum album, you would know by now.

Being the best at one specific thing is statistically near impossible.

Now, being top 25% in the few areas you find interesting… that’s pretty easy.

To make this more digestible, let’s reframe “skill stacking” as “failure stacking.”

Acquiring a skill puts you in the mindset that you just need to study and learn all day.

Acquiring a failure assumes that you are actively working toward a goal and gaining actual experience.

  • Identify a goal in your life – like quitting your job, finding a partner, or getting fit.
  • Start with what you know – you can only know what to learn when you hit a roadblock, so hit one fast.
  • Pursue your curiosity – let your experience guide you into new paths to experiment with.

All of these will overlap eventually.

Starting in fitness can introduce you to diet models to try, training programs to test, and lifestyle changes to implement.

Once you get to the top 25%, which isn’t much in fitness, you can explore new routes.

Maybe you want to start a career in fitness, so you start writing on the internet and building an audience.

Again, once you get to the top 25%, which again isn’t much, you can start adding to your results by branching out.

You can study philosophy to add depth to your writing, design to enhance your brand, or really anything as a creator – and that’s why generalists thrive.

2) The Most Profitable Niche Is You

The creator economy – not to be confused with the influencer economy – is characterized by individuals who pursue their interests and document their knowledge.

Nobody wants to follow a glorified search engine that talks about the same thing all the time.

Many creators tell me they are afraid to branch out into new interests because they have trouble understanding how that will work.

All you have to do is look at everyone you follow. Are they talking about one thing? Are they actually?

Or are they giving their opinions, beliefs, knowledge, and snippets of their life experience packaged up into impactful content?

“But Dan, what do I sell then?”

That’s where things get tricky.

How To Earn A Living As A Generalist

The first step to earning a living as a generalist is choosing a career path that doesn’t box you into one specific skill or interest.

In other words, you need to become an entrepreneur.

But that alone doesn’t cut it.

You can easily get trapped in a specific niche with work you no longer find meaningful.

As mentioned, you are in the second renaissance.

Social media is the new town square.

Creators are the new Renaissance men.

Creators are the decentralized education system.

Creators are the new economy.

Stop thinking of a “creator” as some new internet job. Think of it as a part of life. You already spend most of your day on your phone. To act like social media isn’t engrained in humanity at this point is foolish. Being a “creator” is just expressing your value in the digital world rather than being a slave to it on the sidelines.

You probably follow creators for education and entertainment because they present beliefs and opportunities different from what you’ve been told.

Ideas shape society, and it’s happening right before your eyes.

Creators are earning an independent income by teaching what they know by pursuing their interests.

They solve problems in their life and sell the solution.

Some sell stylish blue light glasses to help with sleep. Some sell business advice because college professors probably don’t own a business (unless they are teaching out of passion and sitting on wads of cash), so creators are some of the few qualified to teach it. Some sell productivity systems, psychology practices, and meditations.

If you don’t see this, it’s probably time to unfollow everyone and start searching for new pockets of the internet that create the society you want to see in the world. Your attention is going somewhere, might as well fuel what you believe in (and what you want to become).

Let’s start there. How do you begin earning a living?

Build A General Audience

I’m not a fan of building “niche” or specific audiences.

I am a fan of helping your audience reach a big goal with whatever skills, interests, and ideas help them get there.

When people tell you to build a niche audience in a specific topic, they usually don’t realize that’s not what they are doing.

They say that, and then they go on to give random mindset tips, discuss their beliefs, post about their lives, and discuss their other interests.

Before anything else, why build an audience?

Because you need attention and people if you want to make an independent income.

You can no longer rely on your boss to generate attention with a marketing department that sells their product. You have to do it all yourself.

Building an audience is the most accessible way for beginners to do this. All you need is an internet connection, a few ideas, and the ability to type on your keyboard. I teach this in 2-Hour Writer.

To make this simple:

  • Choose a big goal – Is it financial freedom? Is it a fit body? Is it self-actualization? The purpose of a value creator – someone focused on value and education rather than entertainment and looks – is to help people improve their mind, body, business, and relationships.
  • List out skills, interests, and beliefs – What do people need to know in order to reach that goal? The combination of these is what makes you unique.
  • Frame everything you write through the lens of achieving that goal – If you want to talk about basket weaving for some reason, do it, but talk about how it benefits your life as a fun hobby that helps with creativity and mental clarity.

Let’s say the goal I’m helping people achieve is financial freedom.

I talk about creativity, psychology, writing, and human potential to help people get there.

Someone else can choose something completely different, like performance/health, budgeting, and spirituality.

Both have the same big goal that everyone wants – financial freedom – with completely different ways of getting there.

The problem most creators face is that they either don’t have a goal to frame their content, don’t choose a goal that people want, or choose a goal so small that they attract a small audience.

The bigger the goal, the bigger your potential audience and the more unique you can be.

Make Noise, Find Signal

Most creators struggle to start writing because they don’t know what to write about.

  1. Just start writing. Nobody is watching when you have zero followers.
  2. If your friends follow you, good. Maybe it’s finally time for them to learn who you really are and potentially join you. And if they don’t like it, maybe they don’t really care about you, and you should find that out now instead of later.
  3. Write about all of your interests. Make a lot of noise and let your audience decide what they want to hear more of from you. A few poorly performing posts aren’t the end of the world; it’s data.

Of course, posting good content is only one aspect of social growth. You have to understand social media as a skill if you want to grow. I talk about that skill in How To Actually Build An Audience On Social Media.

Next question: how do I write?

First, make a list of content ideas based on your interests.

Second, focus on the “how” and “why.”

Third, write out the post.

Fourth, filter it through your big goal.

Let’s say I’m writing about psychology.

Some topics include:

  • How do I manage my emotions? Create a list of steps.
  • Why should I manage my emotions? Think of compelling reasons from experience.

Frame it through a big goal like financial freedom, and you have a post:

How to manage your emotions:

  • Become aware of negative reactions
  • Pause before you act on them
  • Stay quiet or make a better decision

When you repeat this process, you reprogram your mind to be less negative.

Life, money, and relationships will flow with ease.

All it takes is a small mention of your big goal for it to be impactful.

Why are we focused on illustrating the “why” or importance of an idea?

Because people whine a lot and experiment little.

“Dan, how can I talk about my interests if nobody is interested in them?”

That’s not their fault. It’s yours. Your interests aren’t interesting because you don’t make them interesting.

If you became interested in them, that means there’s a series of thoughts and ideas that can make it important to someone else.

You weren’t born with that interest. You were programmed into it. You were persuaded of its importance and adopted it to help you achieve your goals in life.

This does require you to think. It probably won’t be that easy the first time around.

Establish Authority With A Digital Asset

At this point, you are writing quite a few posts.

You should review their performance every week to see which ideas did better than others. It should be obvious which ones they are.

You can look for better writing or more engagement.

From there, you want to make the most of those ideas:

  • Turn them into longer-form content like a thread, carousel, newsletter, or video.
  • Rewrite that post from multiple angles to consistently get more engagement.
  • Bake that topic into your writing routine and make it a part of your brand.

If that topic continues to do well for you, establish a piece of your authority in that topic by creating a digital asset.

Create a free product. Pin a thread or carousel to your profile. Write it down as a potential starting point for a digital product. This is what we do in my new course Mental Monetization to monetize your creative work. It launches on June 3rd when the early bird price increases.

Why do we do this?

So you don’t feel like you have to keep repeating yourself and box yourself into a niche.

A free product will contain almost everything you know on the topic.

Instead of writing endless content on that, you can just send them to the free product or they can read your pinned thread.

This gives you room to continue experimenting with new ideas to diversify your brand and make it irreplaceable as a generalist.

As you make noise and find signal, you will solidify the signal as a part of your brand by consistently repurposing that idea and creating new free products to get people on your email list.

Build A Portfolio Of Income Sources

As a generalist, we can look to a few people for inspiration.

First, there’s Zuby.

He’s a rapper, fitness buff, and political commentator.

With a rather general audience, he promotes his music, fitness ebook, and public speaking gigs. He isn’t boxed into one specific topic and that’s what allows him to stand out.

I’d like to think of myself as another example.

Even though I started out in web design, that didn’t stop me from talking about emotional management and self-improvement.

It didn’t stop me from building more products like a physical planner and self-help ebook (The Path To Power that was complete sh*t but allowed me to get better and eventually write and publish a full book).

As my audience grew thanks to attracting people with big goals of achieving more in their life, I was able to pivot out of web design into writing, productivity, branding, and marketing.

I wouldn’t even say those are my interests. I honestly talk about whatever ideas are on my mind. Because if they are important to me with the goals I have, they can become important to someone else with those shared goals, which is quite a few people.

In brief, launch products around the ideas that do well for you.

Monetize with courses, cohorts, templates, systems, tutorials, or whatever else will help people achieve a smaller goal that helps them get a few steps closer to the big goal.

Every 3-6 months, launch at least one free product and one paid product until you have a brand and business you are satisfied with.

Once you have cash flow, then you can consider building a product that requires capital and a large audience of people to sell. I wasn’t raised in a wealth family. I never had capital to invest. I had to create my own substantial income source to be able to do thing like publish my own book and build a software startup.

That’s how you earn a living as a generalist in a world going digital.

Thank you for reading and enjoy the rest of your day.

– Dan

Who Is Dan Koe?

I am a writer & brand advisor for 7-8 figure creators, influencers, and social media brands. I am obsessed with dissecting human potential, lifestyle design, and one-person businesses.

When You’re Ready, Here’s How I Can Help You:

The FOCI Planner

Goals are important. If you want help reverse engineering your vision into bite-size goals and tasks — order The FOCI Planner.

The Art Of Focus Book

Find meaning, reinvent yourself, and create your ideal future. Now available for preorder on Amazon.

The 2 Hour Writer

Implement Our 2 Hour Content Ecosystem To Learn High Impact Digital Writing, Boost Your Online Authority, & Systemize Content Creation For Rapid Growth

Mental Monetization

Monetize your creative work with a digital product that sells while you sleep. Turn your knowledge, skills, and interests into a meaningful income.