Today, Seth Godin published a blog post that made me react very strongly. I wish I could comment directly on the post, but his blog doesn’t allow reader comments.
The post, titled “Chai Wallah”, makes an argument for being a master of one task. He writes: ” It’s so tempting to do a little bit of everything. All the tools are there, a click away. You can be the designer, the copywriter, the head of customer service. Hey, you can even do the manufacturing or easily outsource it to a commodity producer… Or you can be a wallah. Someone who does only that one thing.”
(Pictured at left: Samosa-Wallah, by Meanest Indian)
I agree with Seth to a certain extent. I believe that I am a wallah of writing. However, as someone looking for a writing-related job, I cannot just market myself as a master of writing. Companies want me to be a writer, a search engine marketing expert, someone who is proficient at HTML, etc. I am not quite sure that being a writer is quite good enough…in the job market, I mean.
Especially in dying/changing industries like publishing, employees must be much more than wallahs. They must be able to adapt to quickly-evolving environments, and they have to be whatever the industry needs them to be. Being a master of one task might become outdated.
Just last night, I had a conversation about this very topic. One entrepreneur that I know is good at a variety of tasks: graphic design, search engine optimization, general business knowledge, programming, technology, etc. Do you have to be a Jack/Jill of all trades to start your own company? Or do you just need enough money to hire people that are good at those things?
What do you think? Do you consider yourself a wallah? What is your area of expertise?