Fireflies produce a chemical reaction inside their bodies that allows them to light up. This type of light production is called bioluminescence, and without this evolutionary specialization, fireflies looking for a mate might be very lonely indeed. So, it sounds like a good idea, but only if you’re a firefly.
As an entrepreneur we don’t have the luxury of specialization. Depending on our industry, we have to be equipped for design, marketing, sales, manufacturing, support, and finance to name but a few areas. In my industry, I had to learn not only how to deliver quality voiceover audio through extensive coaching, but also how to edit and deliver that audio to my clients, which required more workshop and expert guidance. And to even get those clients in the first place, I’ve had to learn marketing, and web design, and even some microeconomics. I’ve had to become somewhat of a generalist, and that’s a good thing.
Not only does being a generalist mean I can better navigate my chosen profession; learning to do more without relying (as much) on others. It also reminds me to diversify my skills, and as a result, the number of services I can offer my clients. A voiceover actor that can only generate squeaky voices won’t be very popular in eLearning, no matter how popular the cartoons in which they appear are; imagine trying to learn calculus from SpongeBob. And a dramatic voice may be perfect for your favourite audiobook, but you may not want it answering the phones at work.
So once again, unlike our insect friends, I learn to do more. I learn to inhabit all the roles I can, and I learn to do them well. I record friendly telephone greetings, and I provide pre-show announcements to upcoming live events. I appear in the occasional animated show, voice commercial copy, and I narrate many explainer videos. Each of these tasks takes a different tool from my actor’s toolbox; fortunately mine is well stocked with technique and experience.
And there is still room for growth. For example, I have yet to act in a video game. So I train, and I research, and I audition. I seek out opportunity in every aspect of the market where I can professionally compete, and I continue to push those limits back. Because that’s what a generalist does. That’s what an entrepreneur does. It’s not what an insect does. But thankfully, I’m better than that.