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Robert Merki on Wildcard People

You know that person on your team who seems to be good at everything? I mean the literal definition of the word good. Not master. Good.

When a problem comes up that nobody else has any experience with, this person volunteers to jump in head-first.

They don’t produce masterpieces, but that was never the intention. The intention was for the problem to be solved, which it now is.

They are masters of producing minimum viable solutions in a diverse array of subjects. Some of these solutions never need to be replaced. The rest are viable until a full-time dedicated specialist is required.

Their job titles bear no resemblance to what they actually do on a daily basis, which also makes them hard to find and describe. I like Andreas Klinger’s description of “Chief WTF Officer”.

They’re usually a “Product Manager”, “Full-Stack Engineer”, “Head of Growth”, or similar. Sometimes their official titles are hilariously out-dated, but everyone knows what they do, so it doesn’t matter.

A friend called them “Wildcards”, and I think that’s a perfect label.

Wildcard — a card that can have any value, suit, color, or other property in a game, at the discretion of the player holding it.

Instead of a card in a game, think about a person in a startup.

A Wildcard is a person who can take on many different roles as needed. They are fundamentally problem solvers who enjoy tackling new challenges. A Wildcard’s role at any given time is dictated by the problem that needs solving…

What is a Wildcard Person?

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...