Famous People With Asperger’s Syndrome

Evangeline

Recently, some researchers, in particular, Simon Baron-Kohen and John James, suggested that such well-known personalities from the past, as Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton had Asperger’s syndrome. Scientists say that they showed some tendencies of the syndrome in their behavior, such as an intense interest in one topic, or social problems. One of the chapters of this Gillberg’s book is devoted to this theme, including a detailed case analysis of the situation with philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein with the conclusion that the person meets the criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome. Naturally, the absence of diagnosis during life does not mean that there was nothing to diagnose, especially if we bear in mind that while there was no widespread knowledge about the syndrome (as often happens with Asperger’s syndrome, which recently has been widely recognized in psychiatric circles). However, such post-mortem diagnosis remains controversial.

Arguments in favor of the alleged autism spectrum disorders in famous personalities vary from person to person. Some of them argue that in the case of Albert Einstein (one of the most frequently cited suspected autistic), he learned to talk late, was a lonely kid, organized violent tantrums, silently repeated the previously pronounced sentence, and needed his wives to play the role of parents when he was an adult – the stereotypical factors for autistic individuals. Isaac Newton stuttered and suffered from epilepsy. Many of these alleged historical cases of Asperger’s syndrome can be quite soft (not expressed), but some skeptics argue that in these cases only some features of autism can be seen, and they are not enough to diagnose autism spectrum. In the end, many critics of historical diagnosis claim that it is simply impossible to diagnose the dead, and therefore nothing can be said with certainty about historic individuals with (or withour) Asperger’s syndrome.

All of these assumptions may be just an attempt to create a pattern of behavior (role model, an object for imitation) for people with autism, and demonstrate that they can do constructive things, and make a contribution to society. Such a presumptive diagnosis is often used by activists for the rights of people with autism to show that the treatment of autism would be a loss to society. But others in the organizations for the rights of autistic people do not like these arguments because they feel that people with autism have to appreciate their uniqueness even if they do not want to be healed, regardless of whether people like Einstein were autistic.

Some features of appearance and facts of activity indicate that John Carmack is also a man with AS, or he has other unusual personality type of a similar nature.

Possible causes and origins of Asperger’s syndrome is hotly debated and controversial topic. The majority opinion today is that the causes of Asperger’s syndrome are the same as autism’s. Some researchers, however, disagree and argue that the Asperger syndrome and autism are lead by two different things. All this occurs during the ongoing wider debate about whether Asperger’s syndrome and other conditions (such as attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity disorder – ADHD) are the part of the so-called autism spectrum.

Among many competing theories about the causes of autism (and, therefore, as many believe – Asperger’s Syndrome) – theory of non-complete connection, developed by researchers of cognition at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, the theory of marginal male brain of Simon Baron-Kohena, the theory of pre-working, theory of social structure and genetics.

Some theorists give more arguments in favor of Asperger’s syndrome than autism. Sometimes they argument that some specific theories play a greater role in Asperger’s syndrome, for example, theory of social structure and genetics. However, this is the area of considerable controversy.

Famous Bearded Collies in the Movies and TV

Blu Cruise Fish

While Bearded Collies are known for their roles as show and working dogs, the breed has also been seen in television, movies and catalogs. Some of the credits which can be attributed to the breed include the Shaggy Dog, a 2006 comedy from Walt Disney featuring Tim Allen. Agent Cody Banks is a 2001 film which shows Cody walking through a scene with a Bearded Collie. In September 2001, in an issue of a Lands End catalog a Bearded Collie was featured. Other onscreen credits include Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, which was a television show from the 1960’s; the co-star was a Bearded Collie. Tiger, the dog from the Brady Bunch was also thought to be a Bearded Collie as well.

Most people are used to viewing a German Shepherd and traditional Collies on television and in movies, however, we often forget about the Bearded Collie. We just may have believed the shaggy, lovable dogs were picked because of how they looked. Perhaps on the other hand the breed was chosen because of their dependable nature and natural performing ability. Nobody can deny the lovability of the sweet shaggy dogs that played in some of the most memorable TV and movie roles. Whether in a working capacity or as a family pet, a Bearded Collie is a gentle, sweet natured dog that gets along well with children and other animals.

The gentility of the breed has made the dog a popular choice for both movies and other media outlets. It is obvious by the dog’s appearance that they are quite able to take commands well and perform on cue. In spite of the breed being traced to working origins, the dog seems to possess a natural ability to perform at will when necessary. Not only are Bearded Collies great show dogs, they are also exceptional in the capacity of working dog, family pet, or when used in an acting role.

With past experience being favorable for the Collie, we should expect to see more of these fluffy, even-tempered dogs in future media productions. The dog is a quick study and learns commands easily, making them ideally suited to media exposure on TV or in movies. We don’t often think of the dog when we see them on TV or in the movies, but when a producer is seeking a perfect dog for a television show or movie role, they need look no further than a Bearded Collie.

Before one considers bringing a Collie into their home they should realize the breed requires a regular grooming commitment which must be followed diligently. With a coat of long, shaggy hair, a Collie can track in all sorts of mud, leaves, grass and other debris into the home. The dog also has strict exercise requirements and needs the opportunity to burn off extra energy on a regular basis. When thinking about all the breeds to have as a family pet however, a Bearded Collie is a devoted, loving companion that is sure to adapt well into the role of happy pet with relative ease.

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Writing Without Rules

DSC_0501_1287 Au clair de lune.

How does that work when you have writer's block? Even famous authors can suffer from writer's block. It can be very frustrating when you have a deadline and have to get that essay or report in on time.

What causes writer's block? Think back to your time in English class in school. Your teacher wants you to write an essay about Shakespeare or your thoughts on a particular poem for your homework. This you find boring. As you sit at home with your copy book open on a blank page the clock ticks loudly in the background. It is not happening. There is no enjoyment in the task. Teacher has set certain criteria about what has to be included in the essay, how long the essay should be, specific very important points that need to be expanded on and of course your own opinion. The list is endless and monotonous. The deadline is tomorrow morning first thing.

The stress levels are fairly high now. Where has the fun gone? Many adults have memories from school similar to this one. Now when you sit down to prepare a report or article this memory from your school years is playing in the back of your mind. You may not be aware of it but if you are sitting in front of a blank screen or piece of paper then there is a traumatic memory in there somewhere from your school days.

So what can you do about writer's block? Give this exercise a go before you start. Hold a pen in your non-dominant hand. Hold the palm of your other hand in front of you and draw what you see without looking at the page. Keep your eyes focused on all the creases and undulations of the palm of your hand. This is not about the finished piece of artwork. This is about the process.

You activate the right side of your brain when you draw with your non-dominant hand. This part of your brain is responsible for your creativity. The left side of your brain is you logical and analytical side. This is the side where you can get thought up in all the detail – such as all the points the teacher wanted included in the essay, the length of the essay and all the other 'teachers' rules from you school days.

When you activate the right side of your brain you will release your creativity and the ideas will start to flow. It will be a lot easier to write. Forget all the rules which the English teacher set. The only rule here is there are no rules. Give it a go and have fun writing without rules.

Storytellers Are Better Writers

St Augustines Londonderry

"Three apples fell from heaven, one for the teller, one for the listener and one for the one who heads the tale." Armenian Proverb

Everyone loves a good story, whether from a book, a spoken tale, or a movie. However, most people, children and adult alike, would say, "I can not tell stories." The truth is, everyone can tell a story, they just need to know how. Telling stories is reliably easy because you do not repeat the story word-for-word. When memorizing a poem or scripture each word must be correct. A story requires two abilities: memory and imagination. Both are skills children have in abundance. Why not hatred that talent to teach your children writing?

If you want to see your children's writing soar, teach them to be storytellers. Like reading or cooking or working cooperatively with others, storytelling is a life skill. When your child gets the knack of storytelling in everyday circumstances he will have a lasting nationality and write more expressively, be attuned to the beauty of language, give a listening ear to others telling a good story, recognize good writing, and think more imaginatively.

Using storytelling in your homeschool brings a great deal more than the enjoyment of stories. You are giving your children a foundation in orality . Just as literacy is the ability to read and write, orality is the ability to speak and listen. All four modes-reading, writing, speaking, and listening-make up human communication. Orality supports literacy. Storytelling is the highest form of orality.

Typically to help a child read better and write better we make him do more of both, usually with some resistance. The most effective way to improve literacy is to increase oral language experiences, like narration, recitation, play-acting, to name a few. Storytelling is the best form of oral language experience because the teller internalizes a set of relationships and structures that they can then map back onto experience. Think of a fairy tale you love. What does it show you? The value of being kind, the lowest often makes it to the top, the need for merit and honesty, are just a few.

Orality takes the form of stories, rhymes, sayings, conversation, and songs. Using oral language experiences with preschool children is easy, since they are preliterate and in love with words. It is sheer fun to giggle with a toddler and say a nonsense rhyme.

Once children master reading, however, the focus tends to be on the printed word and sadly, speaking and listening beginning to lag behind. To achieve their best in reading and writing, elementary students must continue to develop their oral skills of speaking and listening.

How can I bring a great orality to my homeschool?

Here are a few simple, easy to do activities that require little or no preparation:

1. Read aloud to your children every day. Pick stories and books that have a strong plot and rich use of language. Avoid adaptations of well-known stories or books.

2. Use narration every day. Narration is the art of telling back in your own words a passage that is read.

3. Do simple nursery rhymes and finger-plays with your children. If you have older children, teach them so they can do finger-plays with the younger ones. You can find books of finger-plays and nursery rhymes at your library. A few well-know rhymes are: "Jack and Jill", "Hey, Diddle Diddle, the Cat and Fiddle", "Little Miss Muffet", and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider"

4. Make storytelling a special time during the day or week. Use folktale collections or picture books that are retellings of folktales and ask your elementary age children to learn to tell them.

Tell stories about your own life. All children love to hear about when their parents were little.

6. Tell simple, well-known stories such as "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," "Ten Little Monkeys." See if your children can tell all or part of the story themselves.

What does all this have to do with writing?

If you want to help children improve their writing you have them write? Right? Wrong. When children are asked to do writing, they often struggle because they are asked to perform two very different developmental tasks-write and think spontaneously. One task at a time is usually no problem; but, both at once require a certain amount of maturity. Begin from a different point — try having your child tell rather than write the sentence, paragraph or story.

The process

Here's the process: compose orally, revise orally, then-and only then-write it down. At another time ask your child to check for accuracy in grammar and punctuation but certainly not when they are composing (orally or in writing). That's it. It sounds simple and it is. However, to see results requires consistency and a light touch. Your child needs to become accustomed to thinking out loud. Be patient and praise all efforts. Be sure to offer guidelines at the start but do not prompt with answers. There are no wrong answers with this approach, only good, better and best. Let your child sometimes play turn-about and have you try the process.

If you're ready to give the process a try, set aside the writing workbooks for a time (you can always come back to them later). The results will amaze you.

To Learn More

To learn more about how to tell stories, check your library for the following books:

The Storyteller's Start-Up Book: Finding, Learning, Performing, and Using Folktales: Including Twelve Tellable Tales, Margaret Read MacDonald

This is an easy-to-understand handbook that gets you started telling.

The Way of the Storyteller, Ruth Sawyer

This is a classic of storytelling literature and one of my favorites that I go to for inspiration

Benefits of Short Stories

Image from page 60 of

A short story is a literary work that tells a series of event in a specific setting. These series of events are the product of the writer’s powerful mind and imagination. They are the result of contemplations, and realizations done by the writer either during his gloomy or happy days. Short stories are the outlet of the writer’s emotions. It is through short stories that a writer directly or indirectly expresses his ideals, beliefs and opinions regarding issues that continually confronting the society. Thus stories are written due to several purposes such as to inspire, to educate, to entertain and to provoke one’s emotions.

Whichever the purpose of a particular story, one thing that is very much sure is that stories have lots of benefits to everyone.

For children stories teach them moral lessons which will be planted in their young minds and that they can ponder upon as they grow older. Other than that, they help in the enhancement of children’s imaginative thinking which leads to creativity. According to some experts, children are being trained to think imaginatively while listening or reading stories in accordance to how the writer describes the setting, characters, and events that took place in the story. More than that, children are taught to focus their attention to a specific topic so that if they will be engaged to more complicated brainstorming or emersions they won’t have any difficulty. One thing more, their vocabularies will be developed. As a result,, this will help them develop their communication skills both in oral and written communication.

For older person, stories especially with those that contain humor entertain people. Short stories would also provoke questions in the minds of people regarding life and society. Short stories enables them see realities even though the events in the stories did not happen in actual scenes; but there are several situations in life that can be related to those events. The readers are made to see and think of the realities in life. Another thing is that stories teach people to appreciate the beauty of life. This is because through short stories that the adventures of people are told. These characters are used to symbolize things in the real society. It is through them that writers relate the message they wanted their readers to grasp. Despite the fact that these characters shown in these stories don’t exist in real life, their struggles can be compared to someone in real life.

Those benefits mentioned above are only among the many benefits of reading short stories. Seeing those benefits that stories can give, it is just correct to conclude that reading short stories is helpful to all.

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Famous Bearded Collies in the Movies and TV

زاخو

While Bearded Collies are known for their roles as show and working dogs, the breed has also been seen in television, movies and catalogs. Some of the credits which can be attributed to the breed include the Shaggy Dog, a 2006 comedy from Walt Disney featuring Tim Allen. Agent Cody Banks is a 2001 film which shows Cody walking through a scene with a Bearded Collie. In September 2001, in an issue of a Lands End catalog a Bearded Collie was featured. Other onscreen credits include Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, which was a television show from the 1960’s; the co-star was a Bearded Collie. Tiger, the dog from the Brady Bunch was also thought to be a Bearded Collie as well.

Most people are used to viewing a German Shepherd and traditional Collies on television and in movies, however, we often forget about the Bearded Collie. We just may have believed the shaggy, lovable dogs were picked because of how they looked. Perhaps on the other hand the breed was chosen because of their dependable nature and natural performing ability. Nobody can deny the lovability of the sweet shaggy dogs that played in some of the most memorable TV and movie roles. Whether in a working capacity or as a family pet, a Bearded Collie is a gentle, sweet natured dog that gets along well with children and other animals.

The gentility of the breed has made the dog a popular choice for both movies and other media outlets. It is obvious by the dog’s appearance that they are quite able to take commands well and perform on cue. In spite of the breed being traced to working origins, the dog seems to possess a natural ability to perform at will when necessary. Not only are Bearded Collies great show dogs, they are also exceptional in the capacity of working dog, family pet, or when used in an acting role.

With past experience being favorable for the Collie, we should expect to see more of these fluffy, even-tempered dogs in future media productions. The dog is a quick study and learns commands easily, making them ideally suited to media exposure on TV or in movies. We don’t often think of the dog when we see them on TV or in the movies, but when a producer is seeking a perfect dog for a television show or movie role, they need look no further than a Bearded Collie.

Before one considers bringing a Collie into their home they should realize the breed requires a regular grooming commitment which must be followed diligently. With a coat of long, shaggy hair, a Collie can track in all sorts of mud, leaves, grass and other debris into the home. The dog also has strict exercise requirements and needs the opportunity to burn off extra energy on a regular basis. When thinking about all the breeds to have as a family pet however, a Bearded Collie is a devoted, loving companion that is sure to adapt well into the role of happy pet with relative ease.

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Top 3 Guitar Magazines To Help You Teach Yourself Guitar

#My Cat does not Know of being a Cat

There are many different ways that you can get lessons that will help you teach yourself guitar. There are guitar magazines, dvd’s, cd’s, books, tablature, online membership sites, teachers and probably a dozen other methods that I haven’t even thought of. One of the oldest and most popular ways is the use of guitar magazines. You can find many of these magazines at your local bookstore, grocery store or corner/convenience store. Most of them will contain lessons, gear reviews, album reviews, interviews with guitar players and some even throw in a cd or dvd that have video lessons and gear demonstrations. If you really like a particular guitar magazine, subscriptions are available at discounted yearly or more rates.

So which one is the best? Well that depends on a few things:

1. Where you are in your guitar playing? Beginner, intermediate or advanced?

2. What style of music are you into? Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Blues, Country etc.?

3. What do you want more of in your guitar magazine? Tabs, lessons, gear reviews?

Before you go running off to your local magazine stand to look for a magazine that’s right for you, check out the following list that I have put together for you of 3 of the best guitar magazines that are available today. Please keep in mind that these are my choices of the top 3 and depending on your taste, you may think another publication is better. But at least this list will give you a head start and you don’t have to thumb through every magazine on the rack.

Guitar World:

Guitar World is one of the most popular monthly magazines on the market and contains guitar and bass tablature of around five songs per issue. The lessons are directed at beginner and intermediate players and most of the lessons, tabs and interviews are in the Hard Rock and Heavy Metal genres. The subscriptions are available at a pretty hefty discount and you can also upgrade your subscription and get a bonus cd-rom with each magazine. These cd-roms will play video lessons, gear demonstrations and music from some amazing guitarists. For more information check out http://www.guitarworld.com.

Total Guitar:

Total guitar is a monthly magazine from the U.K. and is the most popular guitar magazine in Europe. This is in my opinion the best magazine for beginner guitarists. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of lessons for guitar players of all abilities but Total Guitar focuses mostly on the novice. The mag has a nice variety of tab for Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Blues, Punk, Country and Folk, so there is something for everyone. Another great thing about Total Guitar is that unlike most guitar magazines, they don’t focus on articles and expensive gear but focus on teaching beginner guitar players how to play properly.

Each magazine also comes with a free cd that contains audio examples of the lessons and best of all, backing tracks for all the tabs. These backing tracks are great because they have the guitar parts missing so you can jam along with the song just like you were playing with the band.

The only downfall with this publication is that if you live outside of the U.K., expect to pay a lot for a subscription. Check out http://www.totalguitar.co.uk/ for more information.

Guitar Techniques:

Made by the same company that makes Total Guitar, Guitar Techniques is also a top-notch magazine. Guitar Techniques also has a massive amount of lessons that are spread out along many genres including Rock, Heavy Metal, Blues, Jazz and County. This magazine specializes in guitar instruction and it shows. You also get a cd with the backing tracks for the tabs and lesson examples.

You’ll get everything from beginner tips to some more advanced soloing lessons. They also get right into the different styles or techniques of your favorite guitarists. They explain exactly what scales and techniques they use and how the artist gets their sound. They then give you examples tabbed out so you can learn exactly how to play it. For more information go to http://www.guitar-techniques.com/.

So there you have my list of the Top 3 Guitar Magazines that will help you teach yourself guitar. Hopefully it has made your choice a little easier. Now go get it and start shredding!

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Is Drinking a Pot of Coffee Yourself Bad?

Golden lane - Prague

As a coffee lover myself, I was hesitant to begin my research about the adverse affects of coffee. Though I was happy to learn that my two cups every morning are only considered a modest amount of coffee; a moderate amount would be three cups. However, if you are consuming a pot of coffee a day, we are talking about nearly ten cups of coffee. So, yes drinking a pot of coffee by yourself is bad. Here’s why:

The caffeine in coffee is a central nervous system stimulant. While it can increase alertness, reduce fatigue, improve mood, enhance reaction time, and improve performance, consuming too much can do more harm than good. The unpleasant side effects of a caffeine overdose include:

  • Jitters and trembling
  • Difficulties falling and staying asleep at night
  • Nervousness, dizziness; especially profound in those with panic or anxiety
  • Stomach discomfort and digestive upset
  • Extreme fatigue upon waking in the morning

Most likely, you did not wake up one day and drink a whole pot of coffee yourself. As your coffee habit took hold so did your body’s dependence on it, resulting in nothing short of an addiction. Caffeine mimics your body’s natural neurotransmitters which are responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses. Too much caffeine sends your nervous system into overdrive and your body responds by reducing its own production of neurotransmitters. The result is that your brain and nerves now depend on this external neurotransmitter source just to function normally.

Another theory suggests that caffeine becomes habit forming when your body crashes after its temporary heightened state of awareness and alertness. You may end up feeling more sluggish or fatigued than you did before you starting drinking your coffee, causing you to go back for more; and the cycle continues.

Ironically, your friend who enjoys one or two cups of coffee a day reaps the same benefits from coffee as your full pot provides you. Your body has built up a tolerance so you can handle more but you also require more. The good news is that with some work, you can cut back on your consumption. When you do, the moderate amount of three cups a day will satisfy you completely and your body will once again operate properly under its own steam.

Specialization Vs Generalization: "Should I Be Really Good at One Thing or Pretty Good at Many?"

Δελφοί Ναός του Απόλλωνος Delfi Temble of Apollo

One of the most common questions beginning freelancers ask themselves is, “should I be really good at one thing or pretty good at many things?” The answer is — you guessed it — it depends. There are advantages and disadvantages to both specializing in one area and having more general knowledge in several areas. Here are the main pro/con arguments.

Advantages of Specialization

  1. Better pay — Assuming there is sufficient demand for a specific area of knowledge or skills, companies will gladly pay a premium for expert help. If you’re highly knowledgeable and skillful in a field, you’re an extremely valuable resource to those companies looking for your expertise.
  2. Less competition — Generally, the more focused your knowledge and skills are (i.e. the smaller your niche), the fewer competitors you will have. Because of the sheer number of niches, each one will have fewer freelancers than the more general supergroup containing it.
  3. Better for working with larger businesses — As opposed to small businesses, large companies are more likely to be able to afford many specialists in a variety areas; for example, a corporation may hire all of the following freelancers: a business consultant, accountant, web copywriter, print copywriter, graphic designer, frontend web developer, backend web developer, public relations master, SEO specialist, social media expert, legal advisor, and a marketing guru. If you prefer working with larger corporations, being more specialized will likely increase your value as a freelancer to large companies.

Disadvantages of Specialization

  1. Limited ability to adapt to economic changes — Demand and supply for specialized freelance services change. If demand decreases due to advances in technology or a change in trends, or supply increases due to others entering your field of specialty, you may lose business and revenue. For example, if you are the leading expert in Facebook marketing but people migrate to Google+, you may lose a significant amount of business and need to reinvent yourself as a Google+ marketing guru (you would lose money and time during this learning process).
  2. Smaller target market (fewer potential clients) — The more specialized you are, the smaller the marketplace will be for your particular specialty. For instance, if you specialize in producing short documentary films for non-profits, you will have fewer potential customers than if you’re a more adaptive freelance video producer who can produce a large variety of films.
  3. Boredom — You might get bored of doing the same — or a similar — thing over and over again. Hopefully you love your specialty (that’s why you chose it, right?), but that may not be the case 5 years down the road.

Advantages of Generalization

  1. Superior ability to adapt to economic changes — By not going too far in depth in any particular area, you can quickly adapt to trends in technology, business, and design such that you don’t lose business or revenue due to movements in supply and demand for particular freelance services (at least, not to the same degree as a specialist would). And since you’re not trying to learn everything in a particular field, you save learning time. After all, you probably don’t need to know everything (see #3 below).
  2. Better idea of the “big picture” — By having a diverse knowledge base, you will be able to more easily understand the larger, more abstract goals and concepts of a particular company and therefore be able to better suit that company’s needs. Understanding the context of the work you’re doing is crucial to going above and beyond the expectations of a client.
  3. Help most people most of the time — Most people aren’t looking for something extremely specific. Clients generally have a “fuzzy” idea of what they’re looking for (whether they admit this or not), and they’re probably looking to you for direction. This is usually the case because if a client knows exactly what she wants, she is more likely to do it herself than to pay someone else to do it for her (assuming she has the necessary skills).
  4. Better for working with small businesses — Most small businesses cannot afford to hire numerous specialty freelancers such as all those listed under item #3 under Advantages of Specialization. I’ve worked a lot with small businesses and usually what they’re looking for is someone who isn’t too specialized but rather someone who has a broad knowledge base, is very resourceful (i.e. can find answers/solutions quickly), and is a creative problem solver.

Disadvantages of Generalization

  1. Lack of focus — If you’re not particularly useful in an area, companies may not hire you because your services don’t provide enough value in achieving their objectives. If you only know a little more than your client knows, your client will probably look for someone more specialized or perhaps they will learn how to do the job themselves.
  2. More competition — There is a seemingly infinite number of “generalized” freelance writers, graphic designers, web developers, and so forth. The more “noise” there is in the marketplace, the more difficult it will be for you to stand out as a leader. Most novice and intermediate freelancers will take most any job they can get, so they end up becoming generalized freelancers, thereby adding to your competition.

My Personal Experience Being Generalized

I have personally acquired a more general knowledge base and skill set. This strategy has worked great for me (so far). I enjoy doing a variety of work; I rarely get bored of a particular task, so that is a huge advantage for me. I enjoy working with other small businesses; I am often a very valuable asset to them in terms of developing technological solutions for business operations and in terms of their company’s presence on the web and their internet marketing strategy.

If I find myself in a situation where I don’t know something (i.e. an area where I’m not specialized enough), I do research and find the answer or learn how to do something (simply Googling often does the job). If there’s a lot involved or there’s a big learning curve, I will hire someone else to perform a particular task (i.e. I subcontract / outsource the job) to save myself time and frustration.

Do What Makes Sense to You

Deciding whether to be specialized or generalized is often a personal preference. You should do what makes sense to you based on the pros and cons that most matter to you.

Looking for More Freelance Tips?

Learn how to succeed as a freelancer and read about my exciting self-employment adventures.

Marketing Planning – Don’t Do SWOT

Sissinghurst Castle and Garden - The Famous White Garden

SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a popular framework for developing a marketing strategy. A Google search for “SWOT” and “planning” turned up almost 93,000 hits (August 2004), most all of which laud the use of SWOT. Some students have said that it is the most important thing they learned at the Wharton School.

Although SWOT is promoted as a useful technique in numerous marketing texts, it is not universally praised: One expert said that he preferred to think of SWOT as a “Significant Waste of Time.”

The problem with SWOT is more serious than the fact that it wastes time. Because it mixes idea generation with evaluation, it is likely to reduce the range of strategies that are considered. In addition, people who use SWOT might conclude that they have done an adequate job of planning and ignore such sensible things as defining the firm’s objectives or calculating ROI for alternate strategies. I have observed this when business school students use SWOT on cases.

What does the evidence say? Perhaps the most notable indication is that I have been unable to find any evidence to support the use of SWOT.

Two studies have examined SWOT. Menon et al. (1999) asked 212 managers from Fortune 1000 companies about recent marketing strategies implemented in their firms. The findings showed that SWOT harmed performance. When Hill and Westbrook (1997) examined the use of SWOT by 20 companies in the UK in 1993-94, they concluded that the process was so flawed that it was time for a “product recall.”

One advocate of SWOT asked: if not SWOT, then what? Borrowing from corporate strategic planning literature, a better option for planners is to follow a formal written process to:

  1. Set objectives
  2. Generate alternative strategies
  3. Evaluate alternative strategies
  4. Monitor results
  5. Gain commitment among the stakeholders during each step of this process.

I describe this 5-step procedure in Armstrong (1982). Evidence on the value of this planning process, obtained from 28 validation studies (summarized in Armstrong 1990), showed that it led to better corporate performance:

  • 20 studies found higher performance with formal planning
  • 5 found no difference
  • 3 found formal planning to be detrimental

This support was obtained even though the formal planning in the studies typically used only some of the steps. Furthermore, the steps were often poorly implemented and the conditions were not always ideal for formal planning.

Given the evidence, SWOT is not justified under any circumstances. Instead, use the comprehensive 5-step planning procedure.

References

Armstrong, J. S. (1982) “The Value of Formal Planning for Strategic Decisions,” Strategic Management Journal, 3, 197-211.

Armstrong, J. S. (1990), “Review of Corporate Strategic Planning,” Journal of Marketing, 54, 114-119.

Hill, T. & R. Westbrook (1997), “SWOT Analysis: It’s Time for a Product Recall,” Long Range Planning, 30, No. 1, 46-52.

Menon, A. et al. (1999), “Antecedents and Consequences of Marketing Strategy Making,” Journal of Marketing, 63, 18-40.