How to find your person-profession fit
What's a person-profession fit?
Have you ever thought about your person-profession fit?
It’s the human equivalent to product-market fit.
While a product-market fit is where a product satisfies a strong market demand, a person-profession fit is where your knowledge, interests, skills, and values match your profession.
Warren Buffet is an example of someone with a great person-profession fit. It's so strong that Carol Loomis titled her book on him "Tap Dancing to Work."
How do you find your person-profession fit?
People like Buffett know right away what they want to do when they grow up.
However, for many of us this takes time to figure out.
It takes a lot of time to find your interests, gain knowledge, build skills, and understand your values outside your parents.
Don't underestimate how long this takes.
You have to be an amateur at many tasks to figure out what you're good at and excites you.
The key is to try everything. Expose yourself to all types of scenarios. The goal is to explore.
Gary Vaynerchuck calls this "tasting."
Eventually, your profession is the realized intersection of your interests, knowledge, skills, and values.
This is not about following your passion
A lot of successful people tell you to follow your passion. Steve Jobs is famous for this because it worked out really well for him.
The problem is the market may not put value in your passion.
You may be passionate about peanut butter, but eating JIF all day may not pay the bills.
A quick note about Mukbang and Youtube
I caveat this with the fact that I’m aware of Mukbang and the fact that you could probably make money by eating Jif all day.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Beast made a video “I ate nothing but Jif for 30 days” and it got tens of millions of views.
In fact, there's already another youtuber who got 123k views for eating only peanut butter for 24 hours.
Natural abilities alone don't make you successful
There's also a tendency to believe that if you're naturally good at something you should make it your job.
You may be an amazing singer, but there are many amazing singers, and becoming the next Lady Gaga is more than just having a great voice.
I know people with voices better than Gaga, but they're not singing at Madison Square Garden.
Why finding person-profession fit is hard
You may not know your interests
The 20th century based education system is highly regimented.
The use of standardized tests penalizes independent thought, reduces creativity, and has many more problems that have to be undone once a student graduates.
This means you don't get to explore a variety of different interests until you leave the formal education setting.
You don't have enough skills
Malcolm Gladwell’s blockbuster book Outliers showed the world how to achieve mastery. He gave a new generation hope that natural ability was no longer important. You just had to put in your 10,000 hours.
While Gladwell missed the importance of a coach when achieving mastery, he did expose the world to the fact that mastery takes a long time.
Your values have not been tested
You don't really know your values until they are tested.
Many believe if they met a former Nazi they would punch him in the face.
Author Joshua Spodek wrote about when he learned his friend's grandfather was a Nazi. He attended a delicious barbecue and at one point saw a picture of his friend's grandfather as a young man in Nazi uniform. He struggled with the juxtaposition that he was enjoying the company of a former Nazi.
It led him to create thought experiments of putting yourself in the shoes of an Austrian 20-year old farmer in the 1930s who was just drafted to fight in a war. A war where he would be on the wrong side of history, but that wasn't known then.
Would you fight if your country asked you to?
Muhammad Ali wouldn't.
Fighting a war wasn't a part of his Muslim values.
Therefore, on June 20, 1967, Ali was convicted of draft evasion, sentenced to five years in prison, fined $10,000, stripped of his heavyweight title, and banned from boxing.
The U.S. Government wanted him to fight in the Vietnam War and he said No.
And paid a hefty price.
It's the intersection that matters
Finding your person-profession fit isn't easy.
I've talked to many aspiring doctors who would love to do something else. They have knowledge, skills, and values but lack interest.
In fact, when Ali Abdaal talked about why he left medicine to go full time on creating content, it was that being a doctor was no longer fun or fulfilling.
We're all searching for belonging
In a Steven Bartlett interview with Malcolm Gladwell the later expresses his frustrations of leaders of companies emphasizing that "we want you to have a feeling of belonging."
A feeling of belonging is what everyone is seeking and why finding your person-profession fit is one of the most important endeavors you can take on in your life.
Simon Sinek is on a mission to help every single person wake up every single morning inspired, feel safe wherever they are and end the day fulfilled by the work that they do.
While Simon Sinek can open our eyes to these possibilities, it's up to us to realize it for ourselves.
If you found this post helpful to your software journey, please subscribe to my newsletter where I talk about my experiences building software for myself, others, and helping aspiring product managers do the same.