#13 Which one is better, an IP Generalist or an IP Specialist?
I am a strong advocate of specialization but there is a place for generalist knowledge.
Specialization does not mean that you have a tunnel vision. You have to be enough of a generalist in order to understand how your piece of the puzzle is operating in the big picture. The classic 80/20-principle works here also. You should be 80 % specialist and 20 % generalist.
Specialization makes you much more attractive to your potential clients in the field of IP. If you are a start-up entrepreneur, wouldn’t you want to choose an IP firm or IP expert that is specialized in start-up companies? Just like if you had a broken leg, would you rather go to a generalist doctor or to an orthopedist who is specializing in leg injuries?
In our society specialists gets paid better than generalists. Why is that? That is because specialists solve more complex and more painful problems. They deliver more value to the clients than generalists. Fixing someone’s broken leg is more complex and the relief of pain is greater than curing one’s cough.
The best thing about being a specialist, however, is focus. You can discard many things and distractions that prevent you from becoming better in your niche or industry.
Accumulating knowledge on a narrow niche or industry is much easier and fulfilling than trying learn everything about everything. Becoming a master in one industry or niche is much easier than trying to become the master in ten different things. When you are not focusing on anything you become the jack of all trades, master of none.
Networking with a focus on an industry or a niche is much more fulfilling because you can concentrate on building meaningful and relevant relationships instead of gathering a loose network of contacts that are not your potential clients or colleagues. You can become more selective on the networking events and choose the events that are actually meaningful and useful for you.
Where a generalist uses all the efforts without a focus, a specialist focuses all the energy to one thing which produces the greatest results.