The Power of Being a Generalist

One of the things I learned early in my career was how important it is to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.

One of the things I learned early in my career was how important it is to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. You may have a specific skill set or path in mind based on your degree or previous experiences, but new challenges can open doors and allow you to not only continue your growth but even become a larger contributor in a multitude of areas. That is something I’ve taken incredibly seriously in my role as VP, Account Services and always encourage my team to do the same. Say “yes” to those opportunities as they can lead to a broader understanding of your space, make you more marketable and even more indispensable!

In Account Services at an agency, we have to know a little bit about everything. This is where those learning opportunities come into play. We must learn our clients’ businesses and industries backwards and forwards; we have to understand budgeting and fiscal responsibility; we must grasp creative work and processes; master the nuances of marketing in an ever-changing landscape; know which digital channels are available and emerging; learn how to run a campaign and update a website…and the list goes on and on and on.

Does this make us generalists? By definition, yes. A generalist it is a person who is competent in several different fields or activities. So, how do we get there and why does it matter?

Why It Matters

Becoming a Generalist is a great thing for many reasons.

  1. You will gain a greater overall understanding of a number of areas so you can make more sound recommendations and better decisions.
  2. You will possess more transferable skills that can be applied to most situations.
  3. You can be a big picture AND out-of-the-box thinker which can benefit your clients and agency at the highest level.
  4. You can speak to different groups of people and understand their specialties or specific needs and workflow.

What You Can Do

Devise a Plan

It might seem overwhelming to try to know all the things, but start with just one. Ask yourself what seems interesting to you or what could be an area that needs more support within your agency and identify things that could benefit everyone.

Get to Learning

Develop a list and start ticking things off one by one, but remember you aren’t in this alone. Make sure you find internal or external resources that you can shadow and learn from. Find a class, book or webinar that shows you the ropes and even results in a certification (awesome for bragging rights).

Put it into Action

When the time arises, even though something isn’t in your job description, ask to take a stab at it. Whether it is pulling data for monthly reporting with that shiny new Google Analytics certification, or making website changes for a client so it doesn’t have to be outsourced, or developing a creative asset for your client’s or agency’s social media channels—practice makes perfect. And I promise your team will appreciate your commitment to learning and understanding the nuances of what it takes to get things done. They may even ask for your help in the future!

The Best Part

For me, in doing this over the past 15 years…

I get to be a marketer, a client and people manager, and a brand steward who is comfortable keeping creative work on-brand AND digging into budgeting and reporting. I get to understand integrated marketing across all channels. I get to code websites, launch campaigns, write content and more.

And the best part is I get to share that knowledge with my team, my clients and my agency and help people along the way. So, jump in and take advantage of those opportunities and work toward being a jack of all trades and an integral resource.