What’s your talent?

To be successful in anything, it sure helps to have three things:

1. Talent.

2. A demand for your talent by others.

3. Passion for expressing your talent.

I’ve figured out that my talent is in writing, helping people think clearly, starting up publishing ventures, and moving quickly to get results. It is fortunate that there is demand for this talent, and that I love using it to help others.

I keep marvelling at the show American Idol, where people think they have talent and clearly don’t. Sorry to say this, but some web designers are like these strange American Idol contestants. They may love web design, but they don’t have talent. Some can patch up a web site, but it’s nothing that looks particularly good or helps others get business results. They have a hobby, and that is fine. But they aren’t going to create a sustainable living.

But the successful web designers have one of at least three talents:

- Great design sense, such that clients measurably improve the image they convey to others.

- The ability to show clients how to make money (not an empty promise, or a focus on SEO only, but true knowledge of how to convert visitors to dollars).

- The ability to write elegant code that does a job well and solves real problems.

What is your talent? Or are you coming to discover that you are an American Idol wanna-be?

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  • Charlie_chalk

    I agree that to make it to the very top of web design and development you need these talents in abundance, but many of the American Idol ‘wanna-be’s’ who aren’t good enought to be America’s next pop idol (and even the ones that do aren’t all that great!) can make a very good living by playing the club circuit (if they have one of those in the states).

    Basically what I’m trying to say is, you can make a good living by having only half the skills of a top flight designer if you know your limits and target your market correctly.

  • Vantrix

    I guess there’s hardly anything to differ from what Andrew has to say.I for one very strongly feel that one must try to do a thing that comes naturally to him/her.Your best comes out when you are doing a thing for which you have a natural flair.In that case you will be appreciated and applauded for what you’re doing.Be it then a,webdesigner,artist or for that matter anything.

  • http://www.lunadesign.org awasson

    Good points Andrew.

    My partner has the “Great design sense, such that clients measurably improve the image they convey to others.” I know better than to even try to compete.

    I have the talent/ability (or maybe just experience) to write elegant code that get’s the job done and tends to keep doing that.

    As far as the middle talent goes, our target market generally knows how it wants to convert page views to value. Our talent here is more in the way of providing advice on what to do and often not to do so that they spend their money wisely.

    The most important point in your message is about having the passion to express your talent, unless of course you are on American Idol.

  • Mathew Patterson

    A challenging post, Andrew. I’ve been thinking along the same lines recently, and trying to honestly assess myself. See http://the-making-of.signal7.com.au/index.php?id=16 for my response to this on my blog about starting up a new web design business.

    Can I ask you: How long did it take you to discover where your real talent was, and was that a comfortable or uncomfortable process for you?

  • Anonymous

    Matthew,

    I keep evaluating my talents and lack thereof.

    It has been some recent successes and failures, and some recent projects I’ve enjoyed and not, that crystallized it for me.

    I should note that I have another talent, but was kind of embarrassed to bring it up above: I’m lazy by nature. I want to focus on those things I enjoy, work from home, and not deal with politics or lots of people/employees. Fortunately, the internet allows one to take a “talent” (if it is) like laziness and let one make something once (like info products) and sell them thousands of times.

    Maybe lazy isn’t the right word. Maybe it’s a talent to do something once and put systems in place to avoid repetetive work.

  • hisham777

    Great design sense, such that clients measurably improve the image they convey to others.

    may anyone help me on how to develop such talent design sense

    grateful.

  • Mathew Patterson

    Fortunately, the internet allows one to take a “talent” (if it is) like laziness and let one make something once (like info products) and sell them thousands of times

    See also: http://slackermanager.com/ for a similar sentiment

  • ShytKicka

    I disagree.

    Success may be either talent or knowledge, or both.

  • cholmon

    Be careful not to confuse laziness with a strong desire for productivity, otherwise you risk robbing good IT workers of the credit they deserve while giving far to much credit to IT workers who really are nothing more than lazy.

    I used to subscribe to that idea, somethign along the lines of, “I’m a web developer b/c I’m lazy.” It wasn’t true at all, but it sounded cute and it occasionally got a smirk from whoever I was explaining my job to. Then I realized that there wasn’t a single aspect of my effort that resembled laziness. True, I aimed at efficient code and I didn’t want to devote one more minute to a project if I didn’t have to, but the goal was not to free up time so I could watch TV. I wanted to reduce the amount of redundant work so that I could move on to more challenging projects. I hate repetitive work NOT because it’s boring, but because it wastes time that I could be using for more productive things.

    So, IMNSHO, a lazy person is one who does not WANT to work, period. A productive person is one who wants to devote the least amount of resources to a project while doing the best job possible.

  • Lira

    There’s no such thing as “talent” – there’s practice, hard-work and preferences (i.e. usually you do things you like better than things you don’t like, and that’s simply because they’re a hobby rather than a burden).

  • Charlie_chalk

    I disagree, I work in a design studio with some very, very talented artists. I would love to be able to create art to the standard they do – I love drawing and have had plenty of practice, but their natural talent (some have no formal training) is the difference between me and them.

    CC

  • http://www.sitepoint.com Matthew Magain

    may anyone help me on how to develop such talent design sense

    Enroll in a design course through an accredited organization like a college, university or private design school. It doesn’t matter too much if there is a print focus, fundamental design principles of scale, stability, dynamics, contrast, and elements of typographyare often readily transferable.

    Oh, and don’t shortcut the design process.

  • Darran Jones

    I would say talent goes hand in hand with experience. No one creates a masterpiece first time round. It takes years of patience and hard work to get to a level where you know what will and wont work.

    Just my 2p worth.

    Darran.

  • myrdhrin

    I’d add that talent goes with experience and volume of work.

    Why volume?… well for every piece that you could call a masterpiece you probably put together hundreds of pieces you would not share with the world.

  • mderbyshire

    …have had plenty of practice, but their natural talent (some have no formal training) is the difference…

    How do you know that these ‘naturally talented’ people haven’t had an informal education? They could have educated themselves to a much higher level than what they would be at if they were to simply attend College/University.

    Whilst it’s possible that some people are born more ‘creative’ than others, no-one is going to be born with astounding XHTML/CSS, PHP or Photoshop skills – everyone must learn this.

    I’m a strong believer, however, that anyone who is seen as ‘lacking natural talent’ in a certain area (as far as things not coming as easily to them as it does others), can became just as good as the ‘naturally talented’ person, if they have the will to be, and put in the effort. To me, anyone who says “I wish I could be as good, but i’m afraid that person has natural talent, and I don’t”, is simply lazy, or doesn’t want it enough.

  • cobby

    I’ve known savvants who had no training at all in art, and produce things of unbelievable quality and beauty. I’ve seen master level artists and dr level artists that couldnt draw a hang man right.

    It’s the synergie of the gift and the training that make the talent.

    Then there’s me, who beats the block into the round hole… :-)

  • Darko Bulatovic

    Idea – that is talent, and make that idea true is work of dedication.

    If you don’t have Idea you can work all day and do nothing. :)

    When I work on some design, i have periods when I lose inspiration (find my self repeating-stall), someone could call that laziness, but when I am challenged with Idea (born from laziness period) I can break through like bull (dancing at the same time).

    So I think talent summons Art and if you believe in it everyone will.

  • http://www.crystalcleardesigns.com ccdesigns

    This has become quite the deep web talent philisophical discussion. A great secret to success that the big ones all know:

    Surround yourself with talent better than yourself.

    No matter how talented I have ever thought myself to be, I am comfortable with people that are better than me. Many talented people fear people that can compete with them – by doing so, they limit their collaboration potential. You will never be great unless you learn how to surround yourself with greatness and to also be comfortable with it.

  • Charlie_chalk

    @CCDesigns:

    Now that IS something I find very easy to do, it happens every time I collect my son from nursery! ;-)

    CC

  • Mathew Patterson

    Guy Kawasaki has a great post on recruiting great talent: http://blog.guykawasaki.com/2006/01/the_art_of_recr.html

    Mathew
    the-making-of.signal7.com.au

  • http://www.sitepoint.com AlexW

    There’s no such thing as “talent”—there’s practice, hard-work and preferences (i.e. usually you do things you like better than things you don’t like, and that’s simply because they’re a hobby rather than a burden).

    Of course, practice helps anyone, but surely you’re not saying that no-one ever has a natural aptitude for particular areas? Mozart, Einstein, Leonardo, even Michael Jordan always had more than just plain sweat on everyone else.

  • Doug

    cholmon said

    a lazy person is one who does not WANT to work, period. A productive person is one who wants to devote the least amount of resources to a project while doing the best job possible.

    The word you are looking for is efficiency. Productivity is close, but effecient is better. An efficient person often feels lazy because they want to finish the job in 2 hours and do it right while everyone else feels fine finishing the job in 8 hours and not really caring about whether they did it right or not.

    I think many efficient people who work in office environments know what I’m talking about. It is pretty clear when the people around aren’t very efficient.

  • cobby

    I’ve worked in the “Office Enviroment” And there are too many people out there that work at
    a pace consistant to their paygrade.

    True Efficiency will come when one is starving, opening their own business and having to live
    off what they make. Period

    Life’s little lessons become well learned when you strike out on your own.

  • Fiyaer

    I think Cobby hit it right on the head. But laziness is good too.