Back when I lived in London in the ‘Nineties, I vaguely knew this Irish journalist, call him Simon. He was a flatmate of an old school friend of mine.
Simon wasn’t famous or anything, but he was always working.
He was pretty successful.
He drove a nice car, ate in fancy places and seemed to enjoy his life.
Of all the journalists I knew personally, he was by far the most self-assured.
What was his secret?
It wasn’t that he was smarter or a better writer than the other journalists.
There are plenty smart people who can write well in that trade.
What made him successful is that he was very good at writing about the oil industry.
That was his beat. Nothing else.
He knew more about the “Big Petroleum” than anyone else on Fleet Street, just about.
The London newspaper scene already had plenty of celebrity watchers or political wonks or sport pundits running around.
But rather than wait in line with fifty other aspiring journalists for a crack at those, Simon picked Oil, an area that nobody else was paying attention to.
And made it his own.
So when a big story broke, a Middle East war here, an oil tanker disaster there, he’d be the first guy the newspaper editor or BBC producer would call.
And Simon would swoop in and dazzle them all with his erudition.