jack of all trades master of none

A Jack of all Trades

and a Master of None



SAT exception participate
prep push (2) you name it
obsess fascinate extra-curricular
choose various keep doing it
ensure scouting concentrate
excel audience net worth
lousy field (2) two left hands
expand freelance subject (3)
tile aptitude voracious
insist average spend time
instead crack (2) pale in comparison
admire push (2) multifaceted
focus anatomy Renaissance
invent sculpture concentrate
involve share (2) master (2)
reap trade (2) passionate
reward major (3) diplomacy

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”
― Shunryu Suzuki, Philosopher.


The other day, my son told me he was worried about his future.


Because he said he wasn’t good at a number of things (math was at the top of the list), unlike some of his classmates and friends.

My son has to study a lot of different subjects at school.

Moreover, in our neighborhood, parents make their children participate in various activities: piano lessons … soccer … art class … ballet … chess club … SAT prep classes … summer camp … scouting … you name it.

Single Passion


I don’t push my kids into doing any of the above. I don’t obsess over their grades or what extra-curricular activities they should be doing (but they certainly can if they choose to do so).

What I tell them is this: You don’t have to do a lot of things. Just find one thing in life that you really love, something that fascinates you, something you are passionate about — and just keep doing it. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it.

With an early start and years of practice, kids will become experts at something . . . which will lead to an excellent career . . . and they will never have to worry about money or being unemployed.

Of course, to ensure financial success, that singular passion should be something others will pay money, or that you create a market for.

Warren Buffet

In a lecture Warren Buffett once gave at a college, he told the audience that he wasn’t very strong, fast, physically fit, nor very athletic. “If I were dropped in the middle of Africa, I’d be eaten by a lion within two minutes.”

However, since he excelled at one thing — investing in the stock market — Buffett now has a net worth of $66.7 billion, making him the third richest person in the world.


Like Buffett, I am not good at most things. I have two left hands when it comes to fixing things around the house. And I am lousy at tennis, baseball, or any sport involving a ball.

But I have been a voracious reader since I was four: I have always loved books, magazines, reading, and writing.


I began to write short stories in junior high, then articles for my high school newspaper. This continued on in college, where I eventually became the editor of the university paper.

Although I had majored in chemical engineering, I realized that writing was the one thing was really good at, loved and had an aptitude for.

Then I discovered copywriting (marketing, promotional and advertisement writing), how you could earn a good income in this profession.


The truth of the matter is, with few exceptions such as presidents, we are a society of specialists.

When I was a kid and the tiles in our bathroom began to crumble, my dad, an average insurance salesman, insisted on repairing them himself (perhaps to make mom and me proud of him).

Now, when my bathroom has a cracked tile, I call a tile specialist, and pay him to fix it.

If I tried to tile my own bathroom and kitchen, I would gain some experience and knowledge . . . but my abilities would pale in comparison to the tile master, who has been doing that for 35 years.

Instead, I spend my time expanding my knowledge of marketing and skill at writing, which helps me become a better freelance copywriting and Internet marketer.

Great People

History admires the Renaissance man, the multifaceted geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci (painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, anatomist), or the Founding Fathers of America: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, who leaders in the fields of agriculture, government, law, philosophy, science, business, diplomacy, inventing, writing.

But more often than not, success does not come from being “a Jack of all trades, and a master of none”. It comes from concentrating on and excelling in one skill or body of knowledge that others (employers or customers) will pay you to do or share.

It’s the singularly, focused person — Steve Wozniak, Warren Buffett, Tiger Woods — who reaps the greatest rewards.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *


1. The writer’s son was worried. True or false? Why was he worried?

2. Describe the life of the “average” child or student.

3. The writer doesn’t pressure his children to excel or engage in many different activities because he is an uncaring and negligent parent. Is this right or wrong?

4. Warren Buffet is a super genius who knows and can do anything. Yes or no?

5. What was the writer’s personal story?

6. Is he similar to or different from his father?

7. Should (most) people try to be like Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander von Humboldt or Thomas Jefferson?


A. Describe your schooling and childhood.

B. I know people who are very good at everything or many things (computers, sports, academics, business, mechanics, technology). Yes or no?

C. Do you know anyone who only specializes in one thing, very well?

D. What do you specialize in? What are you an expert in?

E. Do you agree with the writer’s advice?

F. Has this changed from the past? What will happen in the future?

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