Jay-Z, the bottom of his company

Shawn Cartes, better known as Jay-Z, recently became the first rapper to become a billionaire. At the age of 49, the artist is hugely successful in his musical career, but he has built his fortune by diversifying his investments in many areas.

According to Forbesthe capital includes:

  • Armand de Brignac Champagne (in 2014 he bought the brand, now valued at 310 million dollars)
  • shares in Uber ($220 million)
  • shares in D’Ussé Cognac ($100 million)
  • shares in Tidal, a music streaming platform ($100 million)
  • shares in Roc Nation, a clothing brand ($75 million)
  • his music catalog (estimated at $75 million)
  • a collection of artworks ($70 million)
  • real estate ($50 million).

Jay-Z’s success stems from his valuable jack-of-all-trades: choosing an area of ​​entertainment and pairing it with a network of business skills. This is what is referred to in the management world as a T-shaped profile, which combines both a wide range of basic skills (displayed in the horizontal bar of the T) and a specialization in a specific field (displayed in the vertical bar of the T). † The artist is the illustration of this hybrid approach, which manages to acquire both specialized and varied knowledge, but also to achieve great successes. His example of balancing specialization and generalization should be followed by many leaders, especially for the following 3 reasons.

More professional opportunities

While many experts favor specialization in a single area of ​​specialty, some studies show the opposite. In a study cited by the Harvard Business Review, professors Jennifer Merluzzi and Damon Phillips analyze the data of hundreds of business graduates pursuing investment banking careers. They then found that students who had specialized in investment banking through their previous professional experiences were less likely to receive “various job opportunities, compared to other students with a broader field of experience. Large”. They also received signing bonuses that were 36% lower than those of their colleagues.

This trend can also continue throughout a professional career. In an analysis of 64,000 executives on its platform, LinkedIn found that “working in multiple domains, such as marketing and finance, provides a comprehensive understanding of business operations that are essential to the executive profession. . Each additional position provides an equal boost on average 3 years extra professional experience”.

While this study promotes a more general view of career paths, the benefits of specialization are not neglected. Career strategy coach Caroline Ceniza-Levine advises taking a generalist approach and skills and specializing according to your wishes. “For senior roles, the assignments are so complex that it is essential to have advanced expertise and a range of diverse skills. You do not have to choose between specialist and generalist. Success can lie in a smart mix between both approaches.

More innovation

When research shows that the diversity of teams can lead to more innovation, it seems logical to think that the diversity of professional experiences can also be beneficial on an individual level. For example, a study conducted by the state of Michigan found a link between the acquisition of diverse knowledge and creativity in many Nobel laureates. It seems that “the variety of experiences allows individuals to think more broadly about their resources and approach problems in new ways,” explains Scott Sonenshein in his book stretch

Darwin, for example, used his knowledge in various disciplinary fields to develop his theory of evolution. Steven Johnson, author of Where good ideas come from, speaks in his book about the scientist: “To solve the mystery, he had to think like a naturalist, a marine biologist and a geologist all at once”. This ability to transcend functions and specialties, such as Darwin and Jay-Z, has always been essential to innovation, but is even more applicable to business today.

More personal leadership

Obviously, leaders must have general qualities, such as emotional intelligence or critical thinking, but it is by specializing some of their knowledge that they can reach the top, like Jay-Z. Douglas Greenberg, former head of the Shoah Foundation in the United States, states in the book: Future-oriented leadership, written by Gary Marx: “Leaders should be generalists, but not alone. They also have to have a specialty and expertise that gives them a certain legitimacy… You have to have solid knowledge to be a good leader, but you have to be smart enough to gain more and more knowledge”.

Combining generalization and specialization should be the goal of leaders, both at the organizational and individual level, for years to come to prepare careers to stand the test of time. Leaders must be the architect of their own careers and develop both their set of skills and the specialization of some of their skills. This is the strategy that Jay-Z has been using for years and seems to be proven. The artist had told Men’s Health magazine, “I have a thirst for knowledge. What it takes is to learn every day, to become more and more gifted.”

Leave a Comment