The “Talent Stack” is a concept by Dilbert creator Scott Adams. It states that you can combine ordinary skills until you have enough of the right kind to be extraordinary.
While Adams confesses he’s not much of an artist or a business expert, he’s combined those two skills with writing and his quick wit to create a $75 million comic empire. He intentionally designed his talent stack to make the most of his abilities.
UX Designers are no different. We draw from all sorts of life experience, not just in the workplace. But these days the UX Design community seems obsessed with specialization – I’ve been guilty of that myself. If you’re a long time reader, you know I’m addicted to online courses like Learn UI Design and Sketch from A to Z.
While both courses have been instrumental to my UX design career, UI design is definitely not my secret sauce. My talent stack makes me unique. Your talent stack makes you unique, so let’s look at what it takes to develop it.
From Ordinary to Extraordinary
An effective talent stack uses every aspect of your life experience to create something unique and powerful. Instead of becoming world-class at just one skill, you can offer value to the world by identifying the unique set of skills that make you one-of-a-kind.
For example, UX Designer, Educator and Author Joe Natoli was once a touring rock musician. Besides leveraging his considerable design skills to create an excellent library of online UX courses, his experience as a professional musician also helped him build a robust public speaking career.
Graham Cochrane, one of my business mentors, has created a seven-figure online business by combining his love of audio recording, songwriting, music production and online marketing. His Recording Revolution YouTube channel has over 500,000 subscribers.
Besides UX design, my talent stack is comprised of a passion for writing, design, music, project management and being a mom. Like Joe Natoli, my first career was also in music. I toured the US as a solo singer-songwriter for 7 years, performing at over 150 college campuses and countless clubs long before smartphones and the internet defined my career path.
Despite having awful stage fright at the beginning, over time that unique experience gave me the opportunity to meet hundreds of people and confidently present my ideas. In fact, I still write and produce music on a regular basis. It helps me focus, relax and find the natural rhythms in work and everyday activities.
Stacking Your Talents
What are your unique gifts and talents? How can you combine them to create your talent stack? Clearly articulating this can definitely help you advance your career. I’ve seen it happen over and over again with my UX career coaching clients.
So grab a pen and paper and identify your main skills, talents and passions. What have you done over the course of your life and career? What makes it unique? How has it impacted you?