At a standstill? Falling behind? Its time to up your Business Market Value (BMV)!
About 2 weeks ago, a colleague came up to me and started a conversation and asked questions about his professional life. Some classic ones and others a bit quirkier such as “How do you get more vacation time?” With all due respect, that one really made me laugh…
But through this conversation, one of his questions was a lot more interesting than the others, and it was the following: “Knowing this place what I do here, how do you think I could be better off my professional life?” Ah! Finally, a real question requiring more effort… a challenge was born.
Curious & interested, I started asking my own questions to better understand his current position, responsibilities, challenges, years on the job, team, qualifications, interests, etc. Once we went through those, I finally, I asked him what he was looking for the shorter term and his outlook on the near and far future.
In time, I think I started understanding his fundamental question and it would read something like this: “How do I make myself more valuable?” Indeed an excellent and important question. So let’s go in a bit deeper on this one.
The underlying complexity of this inquiry is that this key question is usually built from the grouping or assembly of other questions you may think are individual in the beginning; But they’re not. Let me put that into perspective…
Questions could look like:
“How do you think I could get this promotion?”
“Do you think the boss appreciated my last presentation?”
“How could I join this project?”
“Do you think this subject is important for our team?”
And so on...
These are just a few simple examples, but my perspective on these is that they all have a similar foundation. Which one?
Most of these stem from a key point in business I like to call our BMV. If somebody comes up to you and starts a similar conversation and asks similar questions, based on my experiences, we have a case where this individual needs to up (augment) their Business Market Value, thus the acronym BMV.
Essentially, your BMV is your capacity to be appealing to professionals around you. People, companies, groups, teams, partners, etc. So whatever you do, wherever you studied, whatever your religion, age, gender or height, having a high BMV is professionally essential. But how do we that exactly?
But before we go forward, look at appealing for a second... I didn’t use needed, dependent or reliant; but appealing!
This shift in realization means you have to learn to target your value or worth if you prefer towards what you’re looking to achieve. To target a professional, company or team, you need to connect with them on almost every level. That means understanding what they want, what they’re looking for, what they want to achieve.
It’s basic marketing when you think about it.
Now this is important… I’m not saying change or morph yourself for others; what I am saying is that at least ask yourself if you think what you bring to the table is worth their time? Effort? Money? If not, then you may have the wrong expertise, be at the wrong place or even maybe, you're just there at the wrong time. Ah timing! There’s another great subject for a post. But let’s get back to the core subject of this post.
Based on curiosity, experience and years of observations, I see many people failing as they stick to the same job, the same projects, problems, solutions and same suppliers for years.
And you know what? Doing that will totally kill your BMV slowly but surely. So by reading the past lines, if your goal is now to up your BMV, you need a different perspective, and I’m here to help you with a few pointers.
But if you want to stay where you are, keep doing what you’re doing and not change a thing - this post isn’t for you. If you always talk to the same people, read the same books, websites and blogs or just read much in general, aren’t curious and don’t feel like changing your ways… you’ll keep that BMV of yours exactly where it is and most probably make it lower and lower as time passes. But if you feel like taking a step forward, read on and start moving!
As I said earlier if you want to up your BMV, you should minimally follow some of these next steps. In time, you’ll find more just by being curious and open to change. Remember that it’s always possible to change jobs tomorrow morning, but I think people should always put in effort where they are right now before going on to something new. So, keep that into perspective when reading the rest of this post. Here we go.
1 – Learn new things
I have to be honest, I’m a firm believer that many of us get lazy and just "stop learning". We sometimes do the least possible effort and when things turn bad, some even start running. To change this attitude, start learning new things. This could be through new certifications, reading books, participating in expert groups, online communities and so on… As you can see, none of these are fundamentally expensive and can be totally done during lunch time, after super and/or a few hours here and there. Major sacrifices aren’t necessary.
My point is this: when you learn new things and start exchanging with people, you’ll have something new to say and talk about. And that my approach is the start of a new life for you. I know it sounds too simple, but you could be surprised at the power of learning new material based on your needs and what a client or team requires. Not only will it help you get new or better information, but also enable you to identify key weaknesses in your current solutions and projects.
It’s kind of like taking your head away from a tree and actually start looking at a forest. Simply, you should stop focusing the “usuals”, whatever you take for granted and start using new material to new and even old problems. You’ll be amazed how in just a few weeks people will notice an updated approach and actually start listening, integrating and even require your participation in the process. Of course delivery is key. Just don’t throw everything at once. Work on sending and exchanging information with better timing and consideration.
Not only that. Everything you’ll be learning today you’ll be able to use tomorrow and 10 years from now… it’s really a win/win for everyone. If by any chance you want to change jobs? The things you learned are now all part of you and for most probably for ever or close to. People like to think that winners are all about charisma, but it goes up to a certain point. You want to entice people. If on top of that you have charisma, strength, outcome independence and a bit of humour in the process; the more power to you!
2 – Talk to people
Now this is a big one, so read well. You should always talk more with people outside of your company than people inside your company. You read that well, but I’ll say this one more time in a different form – Meet people from outside your organization to talk about what’s going on inside. This sounds so simple, and yet, so few take the time to do it.
“You should always talk more with people outside of your organization than people inside.”
This means have lunches, leave the office, go out and meet new and former colleagues from other companies and build a network of individuals that can support both you and your efforts. You’ll learn at the same time. You see many executives doing it regularly, but for some reason, most people in companies think they can’t, shouldn’t, or just don’t.
But it’s as easy as going on LinkedIn for example and start talking with your contacts and get more in the process. Go out, grab a coffee, meet and talk. Now don’t say anything confidential or sensitive to anyone outside your company, but you can still talk about challenges, opportunities, advances, projects and patterns you feel are coming and so on and have their feedback. I personally think the power of talking to people outside your organization is extremely potent in many situations.
But why do I focus on this point? Because most of us stay inside the company in so many different ways it hurts. We usually focus on problems the company focuses on. We use the same terms, have the same or similar preoccupations, like the same people, hate the same projects and so on. You need to stop this and quick. Go out, meet new people and start getting a new perspective even on age-old problems. It seems simple, right? So why don’t you do it, or do it more?
3 – Be creative
Here’s another significant point. Be creative. Do you think Steve Jobs looked at an old Blackberry or Motorola mobile phone back in 2000, then just asked Jony and Scott to build one exactly the same? No. He didn’t.
Based on his biography, The One device (great book by the way) and many other books, the gang at Apple looked at what was out on the market and asked themselves… How could we make this better? It’s as simple as that. They took a bunch of phones, took them apart, looked inside, met and talked and slowly but surely, teams and people at Apple found creative solutions to old problems, and new solutions to seemingly unidentified challenges.
Apple does say, “Think Different.”
To demonstrate part of my point, take a look at one of the most incredible product competition in the tech area around 2007. The Blackberry vs the Original iPhone. Both phones are from the same era; but the core approach to challenges is extremely different. It’s not only about the design, it’s about the creative approach. Pictures are worth a thousand words…
Again, be creative. It doesn’t mean you have to reinvent a product or service, but I’m sure you can make it better. And you know what? You should always focus on problems that can bring in the most revenue or that cause the most spending… boom.
You should always focus on problems that can bring in the most revenue or that cause the most spending.
If you focus your new found knowledge (#1), talk to people (#2), get creative (#3) and start applying them to one of these valued problems, I can practically guarantee people will come running in time. I know it sounds too simple, but it really is.
One of the biggest problems I see in my day-to-day are people lacking creativity and on top of that focusing on low value elements and solutions. So change your ways, get creative, and apply it today.
4 – Take risks
This one is a classic. Stop being afraid and go for it. Nothing will change by itself. So if you’re looking to up your BMV, it’s time you started taking more risks. It seems like many professionals are tempted to minimize changes and just go with the flow. By doing this, you help now one and especially not yourself.
Don’t be afraid to use your new tools and tackle a challenge you think is out of your league. Don’t be scared. As I’ve said before nothing is worse than regret. For myself, I’ll take rejection any day compared to regret. Remember that my focus in business is all about outcome independence. So, if something doesn’t pan out, I have a plan B, C and why not, a plan D!
For example, you’ve heard your boss talking about a new project. You suddenly get interested and that’s good. So why not go straight to him and tell him you should be the one responsible for that challenge. Now maybe it’s not totally inline with your core expertise but you know what? A month ago you read a book on the subject and you remember seeing another one on the same subject. The first one gave you a few ideas and you know with the second one you could get a bit more creative on the subject. Add a bit of confidence on yourself (profoundly believe you can) and it just may happen for you. Maybe not, but who cares, at least you tried! So next time maybe it will be your chance. Keep reading, think about new solutions, try to get new projects, teams, responsibilities and so on. Again... in time, people will notice your new found drive and eventually you’ll get a chance.
When you finally get that chance, don’t get scared. Be confident, but don’t be afraid to make mistakes and everything will be fine with a bit of sweat and effort. Hesitation is for the weak, and that’s not boomseb’s mission. Here, we like things that are hard and challenging, so go get that new challenge and stop double thinking.
5 – Wash rinse and repeat
My buddy Yvan loves this one, and it’s powerful. It seems like a joke, but it’s not. Once you’ve gone through steps 1-2-3 and 4, just keep doing it over and over again. Tweak, adjust, prioritize, let things go, but if you do anything, keep going forward!
If you thought this post would make you champion in 15 minutes, sorry this isn’t a post for you.
It will take time & effort, you’ll get frustrated, you’ll miss opportunities, meet new people, drop people, spend a bit of more money in the process and that’s the idea. PUT IN MORE EFFORT AND KEEP DOING IT!
So where do this leave us? What about the BMV itself?
Well, it all comes down to more people wanting to work with you. Sometimes it’s because you’re fun to work with, sometimes it’s because you know more or just better, sometimes it’s because you know someone that can help, other times it’s about your capacity to solve problems and challenges. And maybe just a few times… it’s all about being lucky (right place right time). Fun fact… by meeting more people and talking about more projects, subjects and solutions and being more creative, you up your chances of success.
“The better and more you do, the more chances you’ll eventually get.”
Another way to look at it (without sounding too pretentious) is to ask yourself this. From a scale from 1 to 10 - 1 being unnecessary to 10 being critical – how would you rate your BMV today? If you need a little direction here are key questions you should ask yourself to assess this (let’s keep this simple for now and stay with the office perspective, not your city or the rest of the world)
How many employees around you mostly do what you do (1, 5, 25)?
- The more people do your job; the more options companies have! That’s bad for your BMV.
How much value is created using your expertise in current projects?
- If your knowledge is poorly delivered in a project, does it really make a difference? If it does, that’s good for your BMV.
What’s the outcome in the future with your current job?
- Can your job be done by a script or a robot? If yes, make a change and fast, they’re coming. And that’s bad for your BMV.
- Are salaries running higher for your job or you can feel they slowly but surely going down? Of its all stable or downhill, that’s bad for you BMV.
Ask yourself other questions and start getting an idea of your BMV. There’s no exact value. This isn’t a scientific approach or anything, it’s just a subjective evaluation; an approximation. Nothing more. But it will give you a sense of understanding about where you are and where you’re going.
Your BMV isn’t a scientific approach, it’s just a subjective evaluation; an approximation, an appreciation.
Once you start evaluating your position (don't be too hard on yourself at the beginning), I think you’ll have, slowly but surely, a better understanding on what type of books you should read, people you should meet and so on.
One other thing you should consider when going through that process and as I’ve stated before in this articles is to focus on creating value. For example, I don’t think you need to read another book on balancing a budget if you’re an accountant. If you’re a tech support, I don’t think it’s necessary to learn more about Windows95. Get it?
You should focus your efforts on what’s coming, what’s hurting, what’s problematic, what’s challenging. Spending a bit of time on Instagram or Facebook looking at personal feeds is totally fine, but looking at these 4 hours a day is a total waste of time; unless your revenue comes from those platforms, of course ; )
On a Final Note
You should focus on following the steps described here, and why not add some in the process. Always keep them concrete, direct, accessible and doable. This makes it real, tangible. I love patterns, algorithms and recipes that just work, and these do.
I can’t guarantee you’ll become Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk but you get the idea. You’ll go further if you start with attainable steps and goals.
But let me add the following…
I’m sure many of you are tempted to jump around or simply skip one of these steps… but don’t. For example, by skipping books, blogs and so on, you’re cutting your intake. The mind is like a muscle, if you have little or no protein, your muscles won’t grow. Well, books or reading material are like protein. The more you consume (up to a certain point of course ; ) the more informational options you’ll have. It’s really that simple. It’s incredible how written information is more powerful in the long run. Whether you go with a Kindle, blog or an old school book, I can only say READ - augment your intake.
And on a final note - Don’t pass over anything significant, as it may up your business value and impact your future in a very positive way.