People in early stage startups tend to be generalists

Sean Murphy is the CEO of SKMurphy, and offers customer development services for software entrepreneurs. The interviewer is Floyd Tucker from DreamSimplicity. Here’s a quote I found interesting from the video:

People who do well in early stage startups tend to be generalists.
To prosper, to scale up you’ve actually got to hire specialists.

Now I don’t have anything against specialists or the idea of specialising in one field. That’s great, and we need those people. My gripe is that we don’t have enough generalists.

I believe having more Leonardo da Vinci’s will help solve a lot of world problems. You and I might not envision a solution, but that might be because we’re tunnel-visioned. They aren’t.

  1. Ben

    I’ve been reading a book about being a generalist, or a “Scanner”, as the book calls it. I’ve always been a generalist. I think it’s valuable to at least have an appreciation of jobs other than your own, whether you’re in a startup or not. I find it a lot easier to work with people where there’s knowledge and respect in both directions. I hate it when people are taken for granted.

  2. Vincent

    I believe “being open-minded” is a criteria of being a generalist. You must be receptive to knowledge from other fields to be a generalist. This also means you’re open to opinions from other people.

    There *are* specialists who are open-minded too. It’s not a binary distinction. On the range of generalists and specialists, I fall more on the former, that’s all.

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