Be interesting, Be rare

Success comes easier when you are rare.

Rare is valuable. You can’t just be uncommon. How do you become rare?

The most common advice I have heard is to be the top in the world at one thing. Or pretty darn good at two things.

The latter sounds much easier. Often a shortcut to this is just finding something in one field and applying it to another.

If you are smart, become an overeducated person is focusing on something seemingly trivial.

Like a PHD in economics looking at baseball teams, people should wonder why you are focusing on a simple problem.

No one else at your level is going to bother working on something “beneath” them, you’ll have no competition. That is your edge.

Purposely break against your professional stereotype

Start out broad and focus on things you enjoy or find fulfilling. But every year, decide what bucket you fit into.

Do your coworkers see you as a computer nerd? Product creative things on the side or fit into your work.

Try a hobby that doesn’t fit in that box.

Easy success is being the only coder in a nontechnical company. Or the only designer in a tech company.

Stand out. Be rare.

If you are just ok, become ok at something and move to somewhere where you are great

You don’t always need to be an expert to be rare.

Harvard people are more impressive in Silicon Valley. Stanford people are more impressive in New York.

The only Japanese professional yodeler, Takeo Ischi, propelled himself to the most well known yodeler. Every other yodeler is a white German guy. Takeo stands out, and has the talent to back it up.

Move to where you are a big fish in a small pond. You are far more likely to hop from the top of your local area to the top in the world.

I was an average coder and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley. In China and Hong Kong, I was suddenly rare.

If you suck at everything, find an industry that is just beginning

If you want to get a position with no skills at all, find an industry that is just starting and get on the ground floor. There will be few or no experts. Because there is no attention, people will just be happy to have another warm body to help work on the major problems the industry has.

Look at what startups are starting to play around with.

I know several people who were absolute failures (sorry!) as entrepreneurs suddenly become thought leaders overnight when blockchain technology was suddenly interesting to investors.

I saw the same with robotics when I was in college and going to meetups in Boston.

Biohacking is another growing industry for the last few years, there seems to still be time to jump into that.

Success ultimately comes down to a unique point of view on something. A unique taste of what you think should exist.