This has me thinking how shallow specialization really is, and how the real specialist are the people pushing the field at its boundaries.
I remember an exchange between Hank Pym and Reed Richards (from memory excuse my lameness)
Hank: You needed me?
Reed:I need your help, You are the world’s foremost expert in biochemistry.
Reed: I need a whole week of study to get up to speed with this, we don’t have that long.
(If Hank had a thought balloon he would have said WTF one week I’m gonna kill this MottaFckr, who does he think he is)
ASIDE: It’s been written about how hard it is to be a polymath these days. I think this is true, but is mainly half or part of the story. The fact is knowledge is multiplying at a frightening pace yet the way we learn and the way we teach the kids have just not kept up. We are really failing the future, or It is because of our inadequacies that the future is not coming as fast! When will the singularity come?
You Know You’re Getting Close to Your Customers When They Offer You a Job
I believed that good marketers used their own products. I got facile enough with a few of the applications that I could even run some of them myself. I could build simple finite element models with Patran and set up a run of the Nastran analysis codes.
Later on in the company’s life I went to give a lunch-time seminar to Chevron’s La Habra research center on the use of graphics supercomputers in petroleum applications. I spoke about the state of the art in computational reservoir simulation and what could be accomplished using finite difference and finite element methods on the new class of machines that were coming from companies like ours. During the question and answer session my heart was in my throat since like any good marketer, my depth of knowledge was no more than one level away from being a complete idiot. At the end of the talk the head of the research facility came up to me and said, “That was a great talk. We’re glad your company hired a real petroleum engineer to come speak to us. We hate when the sales and marketing types come down and try to get us to buy something.”
For one of the few times in my life I was at a loss for words, and I was completely unprepared for what came next. “Here’s my card, if you ever want to consider a career in Chevron research. We’d be happy to talk to you.”
Marketing was really fun.