The time value of money postulates that a fixed amount of cash now is worth more than at some point in the future. In my experience the same principal applies to your career.
Your skills and experiences are unique to you and are highly valuable. I recently celebrated my 55th birthday and the 33nd year of my career. I know I am at my absolute best right now. Here is where it gets tricky.
How do you know you are maximizing the career opportunities available to you? A typical career lasts 35 to 45 years, so you have to be judicious about where you hang your hat.
Who you work with is even more important and here is why. Who you run with speaks volumes about your reputation, honesty, and the all-important integrity quotient. The people around you influence how others see you more than anything else. Therefore, it is critical to be with like-minded professionals who value the same qualities. For me, “like-minded” means they share similar business qualities and interests. For example, all of the people I work with believe in value-based pricing and growing profitable revenue. We all share the common interest in building premium service and support. In fact, at Scivantage we created the tag line Premium Service for Premium Value. Further, my colleagues all believe in having A players on their team and are careful who they choose to join them. Again, who you run with DEFINES YOU!
So questioning where you work, why, as well as your posse, are essential for defining whether you are maximizing the time value of your career. If you can’t check these boxes, then you are wasting your valuable time and your colleagues, so you better move on.
Here is how I assess my opportunities to ensure I haven’t wasted my time and paid a hefty opportunity cost.
People: I’m the person who brings teams that I have worked with before into new situations again and again. People won’t follow you if they don’t believe you have high integrity and a skill for finding meaningful opportunities. I love the men and women on my teams. We know each other and have a high degree of trust between us. We share personal stories about our lives and families which form a bond that we can draw on when things get tough.
Opportunity: I continuously check in on the value my work brings to me. Helping others and the company is great, but you have to think about yourself too. I ask myself what kind of legacy I will have when my current situation has run its course. It has to be additive to my story, or it fails. How much money you make doesn’t make any difference. I have lived and believed the quote “If you love what you do the money will follow” for a long time.
Why: What your company does is a key driver for personal motivation and company culture. If your work is beneficial to your customers, it will go a long way toward making it meaningful to you. No one wants to push on a string all day to pass the time until the horn goes off. While those jobs exist, I have never met someone who was happy doing them. If your customers need you to perform for them, you are in a strategic position, and you will know exactly why your company does what it does.
Outcome: Knowing the end run is key and ties back to your business goals and the strategy to get there. Your company might want to be the biggest, best, number two, highest quality, luxurious, premium and a hundred other possible goal oriented identifiers. I have had the honor to work with both small and large businesses. In the bigger ones, we tended to want to build scale with enough profitability to meet Wall Street expectations. In the small companies, we focus on growing profitable revenue with the destination being to monetize the business for our investors. This outcome is very clear to me.
Measure your current opportunity against how special you and your unique skills are. Your career DNA make up the building blocks of your occupation. Don’t waste them by spending something so unique in any old job. Instead, use your passion to create and maximize great experiences for yourself and others.