Multiple Personality Order

Some people are tightly focused on one goal, one way of living, one set of skills. Others have more diverse interests and talents. There are good things

Some people are tightly focused on one goal, one way of living, one set of skills. Others have more diverse interests and talents. There are good things about each orientation, but it is interesting to observe how the world responds to those with more than one talent, especially the part of the world that is our little Electronic Musician community.

Music is one of the talents most commonly found with multitalented creative types. Engineers, producers, visual artists, even commercial programmers are often musicians, too. As the saying goes, “real musicians have day jobs,” so you find musicians earning a living with all sorts of more, um, marketable skills.

In a group containing people with multiple talents, there are many benefits to making use of as many of those skills as possible. Although it's potentially tricky to divide a person's time and balance their workload, the results of taking full advantage of such a person's skill set can be amazing. Furthermore, it is fulfilling and empowering for people to be able to fully realize their potential. The multitalented person can be a very powerful asset, indeed.

Consider a typical small company: by and large, each person in such a company performs a number of roles. For a very small company to survive and grow, it is essential to have people with multiple talents. Usually, the most obvious way to witness this is to observe the receptionist or office manager (often the same person, of course), who handles so many responsibilities that the job title is laughably inadequate to describe the position.

Unfortunately, not all small organizations value multiple talents. For instance, it is common in band situations for members to get “typecast” in a role. Perhaps the band leader wants to be the only writer or singer in the group, so other band members' songwriting or vocal skills never see the light of day. Or maybe the “Oh, he's just the drummer” syndrome rears its silly head. (For those who hadn't noticed, the ranks of top producers and computer-music pioneers seem to be well stocked with drummers.) As a result, those band members' valuable musical, technical, and business skills are not used to the band's advantage.

When an organization grows in size, it is common for pigeonholing to increase. Perhaps the only way an organizational structure can deal with people is by classifying them. At best, this need to maintain job segregation can mean losing out on abilities that could help the company. In the worst case, the person may be explicitly told they are not to exercise a useful talent. It's true that some large projects can only be effectively managed by segregating functions, but it is easy for larger organizations to lose the perspective of multiple talents as a virtue.

For example, at the beginning of my career in audio, I worked as a bench technician at a well-known pro audio company. At that time, few people in the company could do a good product demo, and when the national sales manager found out I could do that, he requested my presence at a NAMM show. Management allowed me to go represent the company there — on the condition that I made up the time missed from the bench! I also watched a close friend of mine with skills in engineering and marketing go through the same hassle (at a considerably higher level) at the same company. They didn't know which hat he should wear, when his greatest value to the company was that he could wear both.

Multitalented people can feel a bit schizophrenic when faced with people's difficulty in knowing what to do with them. Of course, the multitalented person can and often does pursue other interests independently, which can offer more freedom (if fewer resources) than exercising those skills on the job. In the end, the only bad thing about being multitalented is that those with narrow perspectives won't understand or make best use of your skills.