I Am….Polymath!


The uniquely identifiable Black Sabbath’s “I am Iron Man” riff plays in the background as I restart my blog posts after almost 4 years.

I recently read an article by Rahul @matthan in the Mint that really piqued my interest. He wrote about the need for “Polymaths” in today’s world. Intrigued by his argument I googled for ‘Polymath’ and came up with “a person of wide knowledge or learning”.

Interesting !

I went deeper down the rabbit hole and came up with blogs, HBR articles, Books and even a PHD thesis on the context of Polymath in business. Took 2 days to go through them all.

Each one of them takes the argument of having a ‘Generalist’ approach against a ‘Specialist’ one in today’s economy/business/world. I actually loved the mathematics of Pareto applied by @runvc to argue for Polymaths in a converged world! The HBR article talks about “Polymathism is largely untapped force in business practice, but it’s also the future of problem-solving.” A wired article I quote, “More generally, the world of business and entrepreneurship actively encourages those who see connections between disciplines. One who can recognize a relationship between two disparate fields of ideas will more likely come up with the next new thing.”

You won’t probably understand this, but it came as a relief to be able to identify myself as a Polymath. No, don’t get me wrong. It is not an ego trip to say I’m great. @matthan’s article forced me to think deeply about the course of my own career.

I’ve never been able to slot myself into any functional role. I actually enjoy each and every one of them. A technologist at heart, I’m fascinated by how products get dreamt about , scoped, built, priced, marketed, sold, accounted, supported and improved. Over my 20 year career(yep, that’s darn long), I’ve done Engineering roles, Marketing stints, Business Development, Pre-sales, Sales , Partnerships & Alliances, HR, Finance – heck , even Chief of Staff a couple of times. I’ve swam through corporate roles, ambiguous startup gigs, advisory to companies/leaders and career counseling.

You might ask WHY! Well, because I enjoy them all. The day I just have to do 1 role, I might as well give up and retire. The thrill and rush of solving problems across functions, being able to connect the dots – empathize with the trials-and-tribulations of each function is what gets me going. Whenever someone from the industry tries to slot me into a role I have palpitations! Maybe this Polymath thing is my human tendency to look for a source of belonging. Well, to err is human!

My wife keeps saying I have ADHD – but I think Polymath sounds better ! Lets see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

I Am Polymath….<and the Iron Man riff continues….>


2 thoughts on “I Am….Polymath!

Add yours

  1. Agreed , one must keep sharpening the saw and take up new challenges in life !!
    Continuous evolution is what keeps monotony at bay ..


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