Jake LaCaze


The Myth of Specialization says the best career path lies in specializing in one thing while ignoring all others. If you own a niche everyone else is overlooking, then riches will follow.

But there's a problem with The Myth of Specialization: It doesn't take into account just how much and how quickly the world and its economies are changing.

Going all in on just one thing may seem a great short-term plan.

But is it the right strategy for the long term?

Generalist is a dirty word in many professional circles. The term suggests a person isn't dedicated to anything—that the person lacks conviction or real skill.

But in reality, generalists are dedicated to providing value—to their employers or clients, and themselves—however possible.


Note about the picture below: Albert Camus said we must imagine Sisyphus happy. But some things make Sisyphus so angry he can't fake it. The Myth of Specialization is one of those things.

An angry stick figure driving a car

For every argument to be made, there's likely a valid counterargument.

Lately I've been arguing that people should celebrate their victories. Ignore the advice to “act like you've been there before”. Because most people who offer that advice haven't been there themselves.

Maybe you haven't been there before. Or there's no guarantee you'll ever return.

Celebrating your wins gives you fuel to work toward your next win. And the one after that. And the one after that . . .

But some wins shouldn't be celebrated.

During my brief time as the worst car salesman of all time, I didn't make many big commissions on deals.


But one time—one time, I made a nice bit of change.

Under most circumstances, I would say that's worth celebrating.

But the largest commission I ever made was on a car I sold to a couple in which the husband was dying of cancer. He passed away a couple months later.

I can't help feeling bad whenever I think about that sale. The deal was fair. But still . . . that doesn't mean I feel great about it.

And then there was the time I got promoted to what I thought was my dream job.

Finally, I had been rewarded for the risks I'd taken. For my determination and hard work.

How could I not be excited?

Because my promotion came on the same day 20% of the company had been laid off. On the same day I had climbed to new heights, others had been knocked off their own mountains.

Sometimes you have to read the room and know that some wins should be kept to yourself.

#business #careers

I'm at an interesting intersection of writing, marketing, and technology. And I hear different shades of the same sentiment over and over.

Nobody knows what marketing does.

Nobody knows what technical writers do.

Nobody knows what IT does.

And from my old life: Hey, what does a landman do anyway?

Apparently no one knows what anyone else does.

So don't be afraid to tell people what you do. It may seem obvious to you. But don't be so sure it is to others.

#business #careers

Over the course of the last 37 years I've made some ill-informed decisions.

Back in 2008, I was offered a job in the oil and gas industry in Fort Worth, Texas. A field I knew nothing about in a city I couldn't locate on a map of The Great State.

The opportunity sounded too good to be true. I would get a salary with regular performance reviews for compensation adjustments. I would get a per diem and lodging provided.

Fortunately, the job proved to be as advertised.

The job lasted only 13 months, but it started a career that lasted nearly 14 years after I packed up my compact car and headed west.

Speaking of cars . . .

Back in 2011, I bought a brand new car. Some would argue that buying a new car is always a bad decision because of how quickly they depreciate: Your car note stays the same while your car's value plummets on the front end.

But I would say that buying a new car was especially dumb because of how many miles I was driving on a regular basis. As a field landman working out of county courthouses, I was driving 200 to 300 miles—maybe even more—a week.

And many weekends I drove to my hometown to visit my mother as she battled cancer. Each round trip added another 500 miles to the odometer, running my car's value into the ground.

11 years and 210,000 miles later, I still own that same car. She's still going strong.

In January, I made a big career change. I hesitated for so long because I thought such a move was stupid.

But 14 years ago I made a dumb decision that served as a great foundation for my working life.

And 11 years ago, I made a dumb purchase that now makes me smile when I think about the value I've gotten from it.

And two months ago, I started over in a completely new career.

I hope this dumb decision works out like some of the others.



Two years ago I took a test for an industry certification.

I failed that test.

And I didn't fail by a little bit. I failed by a lotta bit. I failed three (maybe four) of the seven sections within the test. And one of those sections I had already been tested on and passed five years earlier.

I took only a couple hours to get over the failure. Because when you get down to it, I cared only that I had failed. But not what I had failed at.


A few days ago I wrote a blog post about how Polywork is fixing personal branding.

Polywork then reached out to me and hooked me up with a swag box.