When it comes to what you do for a living, you are the “Product.”
You have decades of experience, a lifetime of knowledge, natural talent, and honed skills that you’ve been perfecting during the tenure of your career. You apply all of this to achieve results of some sort across units of time. Someone purchases these results, with an intent to receive a positive return on that investment.
Package all of this up and then you must decide:
Do you sell YOU? This is essentially a “direct to consumer” sale.
Or, do you let an employer purchase you, and subsequently sell you and what you do?
Your Market Value
But, whatever choice you do make, you must make sure that you are being valued appropriately. You need to receive absolutely the best compensation possible for the value of you and your time.
Accept nothing less.
When you choose to work for an employer, that means demonstrating that you are operating at a level that justifies your compensation. If you are operating well above that level, then it’s time for you to make the case for your promotion. If you know that you are performing at a level of value beyond your compensation, and the company cannot or will not improve that level of compensation with a raise or a promotion, then it’s time for what I call the “Silicon Valley Promotion.”
Move up, move on, or move out. Don’t stagnate and stew in your resentment.
When you choose to work for yourself, that means choosing your customers wisely and, again, demonstrating that you are providing value that justifies the cost of you, your services, your product, and your time. You are selling the value and results that you deliver. This is the ROI of working with you. Do not fall into the trap of commoditizing yourself and selling your time, or even your “service.”
When that happens, the customer starts lining up columns of services, time, and cost. This is why designers end up in a race to the bottom. Customers think they are purchasing X hours of commoditized Web design services for Y dollars. Don’t play that game.
Create and Showcase the Product of You
It’s all too easy to forget how far you’ve come in your lifetime, or even in your career. It’s all too easy to define yourself in a neat little box with a neat little label. It’s all too easy to limit your thinking because of that job title that you haven’t thought to question for many, many years.
“I’m a designer at Facebook”
“I’m an engineer at Google”
“I’m a product manager at eBay”
“I’m a store manager at Starbucks”
Take a step back and take some time to redefine who you are and what you do. Describe what you are great at doing, and what you love doing, without resorting to using your current job title and company name. Now, how would you use that to introduce yourself at the next party you attend? Try it on for size, and start thinking of the real value that this Product of You is worth.
Want to talk with me about how you can define your “Product of You” and receive the recognition and compensation you deserve?
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