One way to succeed in a chosen domain is to be able to view reality through a different grid; a different filter; to see things uniquely. This might be in one’s DNA or it might be a product of environment, choices, experiences. How it happens is not clear to me. But it seems that the broader and more diverse a person’s background, the more an individual can apply the diversity and experience in a unique way to their chosen field, work, domain.
For instance, I know several musicians that played professionally, or studied music in college and then went into the IT field. Guess who turned out to be the best communicator and manager in their space? The musician. Technical people that can play music, write, or know a foreign language also typically excel. Learning or doing something completely outside one’s field, stepping out of a comfort zone, makes them better at what they do. Every experience leads to more cross connections and viewpoints.
I say the best at what they do mostly come at their field from a different point of reference, a different experience base, a different educational background. Sometimes, or perhaps often, these people can not stay in a set company, established culture, or “this is the way we’ve always done it” environment. They’ve got to step out; start the new thing; create the new business, the new culture, the new product.
Travel, study, read widely, hang out with people younger, older, different, study other businesses, talk to people, listen to testimonies, be real, ask questions, embrace curiosity, seek community, grab an instrument, sing, play games, hike, run; you get the picture.
Niche, new, or disruptive is not created by following the crowd.