I want to take a minute to recognize Salman Ansari, who published a fine essay on his newsletter/blog this month titled “The Polymath Playbook,” which goes on to describe the benefits of being a multi-disciplinarian in a world of specialists.
I met Salman when he signed up for a pop-up woodworking class/dinner party I hosted last year in San Francisco. (remember when we could do fun things like that?!)
I have a day job in the Silicon Valley tech industry, but in my spare time I make a business out of my hobbies. In my popular SK8Makers woodworking class, based on my book “The Handmade Skateboard,” I guide students through the process of designing and building a custom skateboard from scratch over the course of 6 hrs/2 days.
Here’s a photo from day-two: Salman helping his classmate Kate drill the truck-holes in her unfinished skateboard deck, while another student Stacey keeps an eye on the angle of her cut.
It turns out one of the reasons Salman and I got along so well is because like him, I’m a polymath, too!
My entire life I had never heard the term, yet I had been living it in my professional career and personal pursuits. As the son of a scientist and fiber artist, you might say I’m a Polymath by birth.
My resume also illustrates this: print journalist -> magazine editor -> web producer -> digital product manager -> product marketing manager -> enterprise product designer -> relationship manager -> who knows what’s next.
So does my hobby resume: crafter -> welder -> woodworker -> skateboard maker -> recreational vehicle builder -> author -> illustrator -> videographer -> web designer
TBH, I do not find “Polymath” to be a very attractive word for such a Liberal Artsy concept. But I’m fine to retire the terms “Renaissance Man” or “Jack of All Trades” for one that doesn’t ignore all the multitalented non-male Polymaths in the room.