Specialists vs Generalists

In My Humble Opinion ….. it seems that many of the most fascinating people tend to be *specialists* in their fields – highly focused experts in academia, cooking or sport or film or whatever.  Yet it seems the most interesting life you can lead is that of a *generalist*, dipping more lightly into the many amazing things the world has to offer a curious person.

This creates something of a problem if you want to be … interesting.   You can beef up your expertise in a small number of things and enjoy the attention or praise for your virtuousity, but this means you’ll have less time to simply enjoy the simpler things in life and less time to explore the almost infinite number of things going on around you.


Save time by watching more  TV instead of experiencing real stuff !  ?   : )

Be an expert in a few things you love, but save the rest of your time for exploration?

Travel More!   I love this option!

7 thoughts on “Specialists vs Generalists

  1. I traveled more by driving cross country, over the road, in a semi tractor trailer vehicle. I improved and broadened my college education with Books on Tape and Great Courses, learning about history, economics, sciences, and music. Unfortunately, should one want to become and interviewee, one has to be a specialist. However, the best interviewers are generalists who know just enough about a lot to be able to ask the specialists questions whose answers the lay person might be able to understand.

  2. “Traveling is a fool’s paradise”. RW Emerson.

    While Emerson may have overgeneralized a bit, there may be some truth to the saying. One could modify it slightly: For those who are not wealthy, travel is a fool’s paradise and often perilous. When you have the cash (and….the right Pan-Am-ish gal) , Europe can be vooonderbar. When you don’t have it, not so fun. it might be nice scenery—few things lovelier than the Rhineland, IMHO–but once youve visited a cheap hotel in a german Altstadt, you’ve seen them all (tho’…even cheap german food is tasty). France and Med. –no interest Asia’ s too foreign — even Ensenada may be too much. Honey, look at the decapitated bodies hanging from the overpass.. .

      • Horatiox I think you just lost out on that marketing job with the Ensenda tourism promotion board.

        Thoughtful as usual but I’m definitely in the “more travel at all costs” camp. In fact my best experiences are almost *inversely* proportional to what I paid, and I’m known among friends as one of the most cost conscious travelers around.

        As you know I travelled all over the place between July 2010 and July 2011 – from Oslo to Paris to Rome, then from Saigon to Hanoi to Bangkok, then to Virginia. and the top experiences were often the cheapest. My best and most memorable meals were mostly in Vietnam – with a family in Saigon for Tet, on the street Lao Bo soup, pork, Pho shared with friends at a cost of a few dollars, etc. Our hotel in Vietnam was $17 per night for a super clean single with bath AND free internet on the host’s computer downstairs. Norway not at all memorable despite costs of … literally … about 10x Vietnam and 2x Italy for rooms and for meals. Italy is a great food culture but even there I enjoyed the street slices of focacia more than the restaurants, with the exception and our greatest meal of the trip at Il Pirate de Cinque Terre in Vernazza, a wonderful tour of Italian cuisine. That was about 100 euro for 4 – not really that bad for a trip highlight.

        Still, I agree that “bad travel experiences” can be worse than no travel at all, especially if you are sick or in harm’s way, but even those experiences are amazing character builders and more importantly help broaden our perspectives in ways one simply cannot do without … travelin’ on.

  3. Should add there Norway FOOD not memorable. The two Fijords we saw near Flam – they are a world heritage site – were incredibly spectacular as we did a self guided “Norway in a Nutshell” tour from Voss to Flam and back to Voss via bus, train, and ferry. But we paid $180 per night for a room for 4 at the hostel in Voss. Great place, but that’ll get you a gorgeous suite at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

  4. I don’t know if travel is a part of differentiating between specialist and generalist. One can have a cocktail party knowledge of Iceland and know that prior to the Banking Default it was a country with a very high standard of living and that things are indeed expensive there particularly since there is so little development outside the settled areas.

    Enjoy the Venetian/Palazzo.

    And remember: SouthPoint or Silverton (I always get those two confused) is having a 25,000 dollar Bingo game on New Years Eve. That ought to make some retiree happy!

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