Magic of being a Specialist - Reading Time: 4 Mins


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When I first started in looking to break into software development and startup scene.

I knew Django should be part of my skillsets during a conversation with a friend.

He had built a team of 10 developers to maintain & scale an art marketplace startup.

He even told me that his team handles the work that is equal to 30 or 40 developers with other technologies in other similar startups.

Therefore Django had always given me the impression if you know it.

You can be a force multiplier, which allows you to command a higher salary due to the scarcity of the skills & job for it.

Charging as a Specialist vs a Generalist

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One of the important concept that was taught by my sales trainer Aaron Sansoni.

It was the A.R.T methodology:

  • Authority - Authority & expertise in your niche who stands out among the crowd to seek out your skills or knowledge because they can trust you
  • Result & Proof - To show your potential employers & customers with proof & testimonials that what you say works for them.
  • Trust - Trust is gained from authenticity of yourself & sharing your story about yourself to others.

My sales trainer gave me this example of the difference between a specialist and a generalist.

As a generalist, You will be the one who chase for clients, projects or employers.

Your skills & knowledge are just a commodity to the marketplace.

Which can be brought from almost everywhere and usually it will be a race to the bottom due to this nature of being a generalist.

As a specialist, You will be one who is chased by your clients or employers.

Due to your skillsets, experience & knowledge in a particular niche.

You get to command a higher salary or project value with a higher success rate to seal the deal.

Due to your time & effort by investing in marketing and being a specialist for your niche.

Being a T Shape

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The concept of a T shape specialist was only known to me through my mentor Kenny.

When he read a book by Reid Hoffman called The Startup of You.

He told me to become a person who has a one or multiple deep knowledge of a particular domain.

Besides gain a wide array of knowledge & skills that compliment you.

Usually, for great companies and organisations, they will look for people with the traits of skill stack.

To design, create, market, sell product or services for them.

Due to your ability to understand and empathise their clients & industry.

Without being pinhole to a particular perspective or way of thinking.

As the saying goes, "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail".

So please don't be one-trick pony especially as a developer.

I look for ways to become better in my craft besides being a specialist.

I search for knowledge and skills like design, design patterns, soft skills, new technologies that I could dive deep into it.

Building your Tribe

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When you become a specialist. You need to build your tribe of raving fans that spreads your message.

Without this group of raving fans who knows what you do and is attracted to your message, mindset, knowledge, personality or skills.

It will be hard for any prospective employer or customer to find you.

Besides just Googling about you might be one of their last resort take when trying to find out for things in a particular niche.

Seek to create a tribe of 1,000 true fans through your youtube, blog or podcast.

Learn to stand on something that you believe in and always seek to provide value to create a ripple effect in your articles, actions and message.

I help out in JuniorDev SG, Python User Group Singapore & Code in the Community is because of the values of what they stand by.

Which is to create a conducive environment for developers to learn, grow & thrive as a developer in both developer community & startup ecosystem in Singapore.


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I hope this article will be useful for developers who are seeking to become a specialist for their niche and tips for building your tribe.

I know I had written about an article about being a generalist as a developer called Why Be a Full Stack Developer.

It does not change my perspective of talent stacking.

By attracting the right kind of opportunities from potential employers & customers.

I even had the privilege to invited by some companies who reach out to me.

To provide insights & feedback into the products they had created for the community or the niche that I'm in.