Yes, polymath is a word? No, I didn't make it up as an attempt to sound intelligent. A polymath simply defined by Merriam-Webster is someone who knows a lot about many different things. What majority of people call "Jack or Jill of all trades". What critics call "Master of None". Here are three reasons why I think polymaths or the new Renaissance woman or man are pretty cool people and how it's worked for me.
Learning or the skill of learning serves great benefit as a polymath. As a Jill of All Trades you are on a constant quest to learn new things and new skills and becoming a master in the art of "knowing how to learn". Innately or maybe overtly, either way, you learn how to develop the skill of learning. Therefore, as silly as it may sound, no project or mountain is too big for you.
In the beginning of my career, I taught myself how to sew. I took it step by step and worked on a different project weekly. I have to be honest, I had a huge insecurity. I could make anything as far as constructing but I couldn't sketch my designs. I knew that every designer knew how to sketch maybe not sew but sketching..yes. How could I ever visually communicate my designs to my future patternmaker or seamstress if I couldn't sketch? The Jill in me knew I had to overcome this professional obstacle. In a few short months, after being gifted 9 Heads, the sketching bible, I now sketch all of my designs and actually illustrate professionally. GO FIGURE!
Because you know a lot about a lot, being a polymath makes you a more well rounded person. Let's create a scenario, really quick. Remember how I told you my thoughts on why every woman should learn a new language, we have the Andrea Fenise woman at a company dinner with a prospective client based out of Los Angeles. He walks in to have dinner with your CEO right?! Le'ts make this very realistic, he's distracted with a phone conversation with his mother in law who is caring for his kids (insert his wife is an entrepreneur as well on a business trip) the mother in law speaks Spanish only. After he ends his call, you try to wooh him over and calm him done and say "Oh su suegra es el cuidado de sus hijos". He looks up in astonishment. You all continue your dinner, you're almost there closing the deal, he says allow him to sleep on it. He stands up hastily and pops a button on his Tom Ford suit. Guess what, you know how to sew, pull your sewing kit out and sew that button on. The next morning, your CEO calls you in the oficina and tells you Senor Lopez of Lopez & Consultants has signed the deal for the new project. See where this goes.... JILL OF ALL TRADES.
DIY...IF YOU HAVE TO
In the beginning phases of your business, you may not have a budget for every facet of your company needs. Today's entrepreneur wears many hats. Top of the morning, you may be the product developer, noon you are the customer service rep & graphic designer, by evening the web developer and accountant. As a polymath, your range of knowledge will serve beneficial in handling those tasks until your company is able to hire a monomath in each department. I've been there and I'm still there.
Hiring a full time graphic designer and web developer just really isn't feasible for me at the moment. I've taken it upon myself to learn basic Photoshop skills and web development to ensure I have visually appealing graphics for ad campaigns for a polished and professional look. I've managed to wear my graphic designer and web developer hat stylishly.
Professionally, being a polymath is an asset and not a liability in my opinion. Mastering the concept of multidisciplinary practices and ideology, works in my favor. I've not only learned skills that I can talk about to other industry professionals but I can use them for myself and see a return.
Are you a polymath? What skills do you all possess and how many? I'd love to know.