Looking for universalists

Hmmmm, not quite the universalist we were looking for . . . 

This past week I was sitting in a bank manager’s office when I noted aloud how few staff  remained.

I’d noticed this same hollowing out effect at other banks we do business with as well. It’s as though the banking industry has undergone a SlimFast diet. And stuck to it.

The bank manager nodded: “Everyone’s expected to do more. We’re only looking for universalists now.

These are individuals who can handle the teller position, handle the drive-through lanes . . . and when called upon, scoot over to the now mainly empty business desks — to process a loan, wire a payment, secure a line of credit.

It turns out we’re doing the same thing at our art gallery. Since the crash and our near-death business experience I’ve been focused on figuring out how to ride the new economics. 

(This is no casual exercise. We survived bankruptcy — barely — 8 out of 10 of our local competitors did not.)

(But don’t cry for us, Argentina, we’re thriving again.)

Where we once used to hire art consultants (sales people in artworld speak) and art installers, we’ve now combined the position. We look for someone capable of slinging artwork who is also capable of singing its praises.

The trend in some industries is for less specialization, more multiple roles. 

Banks are trimming by removing specialists in favor of universalists.

We’re hiring art universalists.

It makes for a never-dull world. You bounce back and forth between roles. Different portions of your brain get activated — and in the case of the gallery there are vastly different demands on your body depending upon the role you’re working.

You know what this means?

The end of boredom. 

For some. For those who can rise to the new standards.

Yes it means fewer jobs in these areas. (As never-existed-before jobs pop up somewhere else. Like these jobs that didn’t exist in 1900: programmer, blogger, roadie, cinematographer, mobile pet groomer, YouTube channel sensation . . . )

It also means more fulfilling work. Jobs that require you to be multi-capable.

If you’re not interested in that there are rote jobs elsewhere. Though I doubt they’ll be there long. The rote jobs are disappearing. The new economy rewards those with the capacity to learn and adapt. 

So congratulations you. You’re here, reading a blog post. Which means you’re a lifelong learner. You’ll be fine. 

For you 

Evan Griffith

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Excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Letter From A Birmingham Jail
BASE jumping version: Finding your church in what you do