Working at a startup is really crazy, and totally not for everyone. Personally, I kind of thrive off that running-on-a-super-fast-treadmill environment. And one of the things I’ve learned is that it’s important to be knowledgeable about lots of different areas. You definitely don’t need to be an expert in everything, but familiarity is key.
If I hear a word or acronym that I don’t understand, I look it up. This way, I can easily follow along conversations and add my input on things I’m an expert about. If I didn’t know what was happening, I would have no way of helping!
This kind of mindset is seriously empowering. First of all, you learn a lot along the way. Remember back when you were learning to read and you’d have to keep a dictionary by your side to look up words? Well, I watch YouTube videos, read Wikipedia pages, and secretly Google things on my iPhone all the time. My vocabulary alone has increased significantly over the past six months. I may not be able to do what the tech team does, but I can at least follow along.
Secondly, when you’re knowledgable you end up with better outcomes. You understand more of what’s happening. You can make better, more educated decisions. You can be more productive at a higher efficiency. Simply: You get great stuff done.
Another amazing thing is that you may stumble on new skills or interests!! Maybe while researching some user experience practices, you found out that you had a natural knack for it. Or you may have realized that your interest was really in project management and increasing communication among team members. Seriously, the possibilities are endless. It’s pretty much a win-win-win-win 😉 (You acquire new skills, you have better outcomes, you learn about yourself, and your company/project ends up way better.)
This concept is relevant for school, work, and…. just about every other aspect of your life. I was using it in the scope of a working environment since I’m out of school, but it works everywhere! I promise!!!
Next time you hear something you don’t understand, find out. Volunteer to sit in during other meetings. Don’t write off classes that “aren’t part of your major.” Ask questions (relentlessly). Be open minded about new projects. Offer help whenever you can.
Can I tell you a secret? It’s way better to have a ton things you’re both good at and interested in doing. You’ll always have more opportunities and you’ll always have more fun doing what you do! Being able to wear different hats gives you flexibility and leverage.