Ecologist turned Sports Illustrated reporter explains why generalists succeed in a specialist world

"Jack of all trades and master of none" is often used as an insult in New Zealand, but in America the phrase ends: "is often times better than master of one".

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David Epstein talks to Breakfast about his book written about why generalists succeed in a specialist world. Source: Breakfast

American author David Epstein has just released a new book called Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World.

He told TVNZ1's Breakfast today that having a broad range of skills is a really positive thing to bring into a modern workplace.

"I'd call myself a generalist," he said. "I was living in a tent in the Arctic Circle as an ecology researcher when I decided to become a writer. Then I went to Sports Illustrated as a temp fact checker. Pretty soon I realised that my ordinary science skills made me totally extraordinary when they were in the context of a sports magazine.

"I zoomed past being a temp fact checker to being a senior writer because I brought a background that nobody else there had."

Now he encourages parents to teach their children to try a number of different things growing up to learn different skills to bring into jobs later in life.