Scott Adams (yes that Scott Adams) frequently talks about a concept he calls talent stacking. The gist of the concept is that it’s really hard to become the very best in the world at almost everything. There is only one LeBron James, Maya Angelou, or Elon Musk. But when you can stack a high degree of proficiency in two or even three areas, you make yourself extremely valuable.
You’ve often heard me say that prosperity is created by solving problems and/or adding value. Any time you can solve problems for someone – whether you’re a dentist who can make their toothache go away, or a mechanic who can fix their broken transmission – they will gladly exchange money for that. Likewise, when you can add value – show Toyota how to increase production by six percent or teach a farmer how to increase her yield – they will gladly pay you for that. When you stack your talents, you exponentially increase your ability to stand out and attract more people or organizations that will give you money to solve their problems or add value to them.
For example, MIT is only going to graduate one person at the very top of their engineering class this year. You might not be that person. If you’re only the 15th best engineer in the class, but you’ve also developing the talent of writing that you can stack on top of your engineering skill – you probably are a more valuable hire than the number one graduate. Now imagine you’ve also developed your speaking talent and have the ability to make compelling, persuasive presentations...
Those three talents: engineering, writing, and presenting, make you one of the most valuable employees or partners in the world – even though you’re not in the top percentile in any of the three categories. The synergistic benefits of the talents stacked on top of each other create an exponential leverage of your individual talents, thereby making you a much more valuable resource to a lot more people and organizations.
Now let’s get really sexy…
Suppose you have stacked some very valuable résumé talents, and now you add some “eulogy talents” – the kind of personality traits people will talk about at your funeral. Imagine that your integrity was so ferocious, your empathy so sublime, and/or your kindness was so contagious, that’s all anyone would speak about during your eulogy.
Now you’ve taken talent stacking to the highest power: you have practical application skills that create true value, and you’re the kind of good human who people will trust and want to interact with. You become a person so valuable that other people will joyfully, lovingly, gratefully crawl naked over broken glass to throw money at you. Your prosperity is assured for the rest of your life. Really. But there is one more benefit, one even greater…
Who you become.