Exploring My Talent Stack

UPDATED ON APR 27, 2023 : 837 words, 4 minute read β€” CAREER

It takes an insane amount of dedication and pure talent to reach the top 1% of any skill. For the other 99% of us, how can you reach a similar level of achievement if a single skill has such poor odds? With the Talent Stack , popularized by Scott Adams, you can throw away the notion you have to spend all your time striving to be 2nd best, or more likely in the global world we live, 15,456,123rd best. With a Talent Stack, instead of focusing on a single skill, you take multiple strengths and find a way to combine them, making you among the best at the combination. Each time you add to the stack, the level needed for any one skill to maintain your overall standing decreases.

Examples of the talent stack πŸ”—︎

Usain Bolt is currently the fastest man in the world, you and I are not. What if you combine running with another skill, though, like baking? Maybe you’re top 30% of chefs, making you a 10x better chef than Bolt. This assumes Bolt is a mediocre chef, if he’s the next Martha Stewart then I look like a right fool, my apologies Mr. Bolt. At 10x better in baking, If you’re even 1/4 as fast as him, you’re still 2.5x better than him at sprinting back and forth in a speed cooking competition. I haven’t actually seen this happen, though I would instantly buy tickets if I saw it was real. Scott Adams himself is a more realistic example - cartoonist, humor, business sense, office worker all came together in the right amounts to create the wildly successful Dilbert comic strip.

My personal stack elements πŸ”—︎

I haven’t yet found the right opportunity which leverages multiple of my interests, but if I had to guess at what my Talent Stack might include:

  • Software Engineering - I’m no Steve Wozniak or those speedy people building an OS in a day. I try to offset by keeping my eye on the bigger picture and caring about writing maintainable code over being fancy. Code is read much more often than it is written, after all.
  • User and Developer Experience - The nitty gritty details of development often end up boring me, but thinking about the experience a user will have is always an exciting problem. Developer experience I view as a subset of user experience and one which is often neglected even more than UX because “they’re technical, they can figure it out”.
  • Security - I have a basic understanding of general concepts and can apply them to toy examples, though I haven’t yet figured out how to do bug bounties.
  • Writing - I enjoy condensing what’s floating around in my head. I’m not a top tier writer, but I don’t plan to be. I just want to get good enough I can convey ideas from other parts of this stack in an easily digestible way.
  • Empathy - This is not meant to be “oh I’m such a nice & empathetic person, way nicer than others”. I just noticed it pops up sometimes and seems like a potential strength to lean into.
  • Work Ethic - I’ve seen myself in the past grind through tasks I didn’t think I could do. Sprinting over and over during soccer games despite being totally gassed, 13-17 hour workdays at a moving company, running 30 miles. I know I can push myself past what my mind thinks if I have a clear path laid out in front of me and a strong motivator, such as supporting my team. It’s when I don’t put a concrete plan in place that I falter.
  • Nocode - I have dabbled some in the space and find it incredibly interesting, especially from a software developer background. It’s only going to keep growing as people find ways to automate the simple parts of development and let you cut to the meat of the idea. Diving deeper here feels wise.
  • Indie Hacker/Startups/Products - Though I’m not good about completing projects of my own, I follow a lot of what is happening in the community and have absorbed a lot of information from reading widely.
  • Teaching - I really like the idea of teaching others, but as my girlfriend once told me “You’re too condescending and yelling when you try to teach me”. Ouch. Not starting from a high point here, but I want to improve because of how broadly applicable it is. Much like writing, getting better at teaching can be used in pretty much any profession.

The Talent Stack has given me new hope that with enough perseverance and a bit of creativity, I can take the variety of skills I enjoy and pull them together to make a fulfilling career. Life has a habit of changing based on unexpected & unpredictable events, so the best I can do right now is keep plugging away learning skills I think will provide other humans value.

So what’s your stack?

More Talent Stack Resources

See Also