In my hometown there was a man who was at every beauty salon, every barber shop, every in-town football game. He had a great attitude, always very cordial, and was always stocked up with the latest of his wares: teacakes. And because of this, he was simply known as “The Teacake Man.” Teacakes, where I’m from, are a simple old-fashioned cookie made with vanilla and sugar. Because the recipe is as simple as it is, there’s lots of room for error. Yet the Teacake Man got it right; he was known for doing something and doing it well.
Of course this made me think, “How does it feel to be known for a thing?” Sure, teacakes are one thing, but, if someone asks what is your thing, what would it be? Being a creative myself, more specifically, an actor and writer, we see people get to the top by being the best, and you can’t be the best at everything. Contrary to conventional Hollywood wisdom, big bucks come most often to people who become known for a certain type of role, or rather they have a thing and they do it well. Think Halle Berry, Meryl Streep, Denzel Washington. They have a look, a feel, a way that makes them them. Typecasting, as we’ve heard it called, is a moneymaker.
When it comes to defining your thing, figure out what you're best at and start making your mark. Then hope for good timing — that someone needs that particular talent when you have become expert at it, i.e teacakes!
Sometimes we hesitate to define ourselves because it limits where you can go. But top players must have clear definition. To specialize, become known for your extremes. If you aren’t extremely good at something, you won’t get to the top.
Figure out what your strengths are and hone them. Sure, take varied positions and learn a range of skills, but make sure people know where your talents lie. People at the top need to see you as someone who is extremely good at something, and no one is extremely good at everything. So, what’s your thing?