People often ask me “What are some things I can study that will give me a unique advantage in the marketplace?”
My answer is always the same: stuff you’re interested in.
It’s easy to respond to an answer like that by saying something like “well, what if my interest is just reading about fashion or sports?” We all have this idea that there are some things that offer no practical value whatsoever. Hence, to study them would be a big distraction from the development of more pragmatic skills. But here’s the problem with limiting what you study to what you think society will recognize as important: When it’s all said and done, your skills won’t be very valuable if you don’t have a unique way of applying them or communicating them.
It takes more than skill to be useful. It takes a sense of creativity, a sense of being fascinated with certain kinds of problems, a sense of being able to make interesting connections, and a sense of being able to relate to real human beings that makes a skillful person uniquely valuable.
Studying what you love keeps you human. It makes you the kind of person who has something of substance to say in everyday conversation. It makes you a sincere individual who isn’t just limited to approaching things from the vantage point of what he/she thinks will make a fast buck. It makes you capable of combining seemingly disparate fields of knowledge in ways that may not only simulate other people’s love for learning, but also in ways that may allow you to generate new kinds of solutions to old problems.
Sometimes the most valuable professional connections and opportunities are established in response to the agenda-free pursuit of insights you genuinely care about. Don’t focus so much on studying things that will make you impressive that you lose sight of the things that have already made an impression on you.