Phone a friend a.k.a. the benefits of specialization

One of the most beautiful concepts in economics is in my opinion David Ricardo’s comparative advantage. In the context of world trade it means that each country should specialize in producing goods in whose production their opportunity cost is the lowest. So basically you should focus on doing things in which you are relatively at your best, even though you wouldn’t be the best in the world in them. This same principle can be applied to leaning your everyday life. What this means is that it doesn’t make sense to do everything yourself, but rather focus on doing things that you’re good at, and outsource things you suck at. Outsourcing can be done either by buying services from somebody or by doing different kinds of exchange and cooperation agreements with your friends. This blog post focuses on the latter 🙂


Specialization and outsourcing always starts with knowing yourself. In order to optimize your happiness and increase the effectiveness of managing things, it’s important recognize which things you master, and which you suck at. I am, for example extremely good at organizing things, so I don’t really need help e.g. throwing a party. But when it comes to renovating, decorating the apartment, or basically any other assignment that requires visual talents, I am completely useless. I have never understood what my friends talk about when they tell about going to IKEA and “accidentally having bought all these nice decorative objects”. I go to IKEA with a ready-made list including all needed objects, and straight away find the right shelves, which I have obviously written down beforehand on my list.

Another central element in outsourcing is having a good network, and vast knowledge on friends’ different competences. I have fortunately managed to accumulate a large network of wonderful and skillful people, who are often also a great help in solving everyday problems. I’ve been instructed in choosing the right color for a wall, painting it, negotiating a loan for an apartment, the best practices of digital marketing, and how to tend to an open wound at home. One of the most memorable win-win-exchanges has however been the style consulting that I received from my dear friend Veera Vaarnamo.

I got to know Veera through a good friend of mine while she was looking for guinea pigs for style consulting. I, on the other hand, happen to love business models so I promised to help Veera develop the service further. We started a very fruitful collaboration, during which Veera taught me how to combine my clothes in smart ways, and also helped me enhance my wardrobe with some excellent additions. During the process I found out that Veera loves men’s clothing, so I offered Tommi as another guinea pig and got in the bargain additionally an upgraded boyfriend 😉 The process was very rewarding for all parties and we also became good friends during it 🙂

The lesson here is that

  1. Most people like to help and enjoy sharing their expertise and being able to shine in an area they know and like. You just need to admit to yourself that you don’t know everything and have the courage to ask for help.
  2. In the big picture it’s so much smarter and more efficient when we all can focus on our own strengths, and get help from other people in things they do better than us. Often a quick call, a question posted in Facebook, or a lunch date can help us take a giant leap forward – and we get much further than we would’ve just by googling on our own.
  3. Even if there is not a specialist in your circle of friends for a certain topic, there is probably someone who has faced a similar challenge. It’s enough to find someone who has more experience than yoo, and can help you get a little bit forward.