3 ideas to unlock value at workFeb 23, 2023
Find Your Superpower newsletter 002
Read time: 5 minutes
Topics covered: Value-based pricing, public speaking, building a skills portfolio
Most people think of career progression as a promotion and a raise.
There’s only one problem with this strategy which I don't like: it gives our power away to someone else who controls these decisions. It’s like waiting to be asked out on a date. Why not ask someone out instead?
Today, this newsletter discusses a proactive strategy that reclaims our power and redirects our energy towards unlocking value for our company and clients.
Not only are we increasing our options within and beyond our current employer, over time our compounded growth will be discussed in terms of multiples of the original number, not fractions.
Before we can get there, we must first understand a concept called value-based pricing.
Please pay attention to this primer on pricing
Our market rate is a function of what we are able to convince someone to pay us for our skills and time.
Pricing is typically competitive and market-driven, based on our unique value proposition (UVP) and what someone else will charge to deliver a similar outcome.
According to Investopedia, “A commodity is a basic good used in commerce that is interchangeable with other goods of the same type.” Think of ride hailing apps: you probably toggle between apps in search of the first car to respond and take you from Point A to B. You probably don’t really care which car shows up, as long as it does the job. You probably would also choose the cheapest option available. That’s what a commodity looks like.
Value-based pricing, on the other hand, suggests that what we earn does not have to be pegged to the amount of time or effort we spend on a task, but to the value we provide.
Today, I want to remind you that unless we want to be treated like a commodity–and commoditized by others–we cannot behave like one.
In 2023, copywriters who deliver low-quality, vanilla content stuffed with keywords may not even be displaced by a human, but by an artificially intelligent bot such as ChatGPT, which can deliver similar content in a split second, for free.
Here are 3 ideas for us to unlock hidden value in our professional lives:
Idea 1: Public speaking gives you wings
Many of us are incredibly talented and hard workers functioning inside a department or team, but completely invisible outside of it.
When I became a full-time CEO and entrepreneur in 2018, public speaking was the single most useful skill that I picked up. It was also the most challenging to get right.
Sure, I also took courses in basic finance and accounting, management and leadership skills, but without being able to communicate my mission and north star, it would have been impossible for me to recruit teammates for my start-up, or persuade clients to work with me with no portfolio to show off.
Within the company, public speaking is crucial if we are to become effective project leaders and mentors to junior colleagues, and to increase our visibility to senior management.
Outside the company, we need to articulate our work at industry events so that our contributions can be better appreciated by our peers and open us to career opportunities.
Here are some simple suggestions on how to get started at public speaking:
- Join a non-profit, sports or community association and run for elections
- Join a Toastmasters International club in your city
- Sign up for a local theater and drama acting class and audition for a role
- Volunteer to give presentations to company visitors and senior management
- Volunteer to lead internal training or onboarding sessions for new colleagues
Idea 2: When everyone zigs, you zag
If you are an executive and you have no idea what your company’s 2023 focus is on, now is the time to find out. Talk to your sales & business teams to understand the key drivers of the company’s top line, and conversely, what is dragging it down.
Typically, when assigned a new portfolio, we worry about (1) how much work is in store for us, or (2) whether we like the portfolio or client. Those are valid concerns, but they also limit us from attaining seniority in our company.
If I were a senior executive working in a big firm today, before I accept a new portfolio, I would want to know if this portfolio represents a growth area or revenue driver. I may ask, “Does this account unlock outsized value for the company? If not, I would be happy to work on something that has a higher impact, even if it is more boring or challenging.”
Be that superhero your boss never knew they had, or needed.
Here’s some powerful ways to unlock value for your company before your next appraisal:
- Offer to lead the research and preparations for a key client pitch (and win it)
- Volunteer to launch a new division or business vertical (going from zero to one is much harder than going from one to two)
- Ask to take on the most difficult (but profitable) client account in the company, while everyone else is looking for something sexy and exciting. When everyone zigs, you zag
- Offer to train and mentor a junior member of the team as your future successor. If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted either
- Volunteer to coach a struggling colleague who is having a hard time
Idea 3: Mirror, mirror on the wall
Let’s be honest with ourselves here, are we truly experts in our niche, or are we barely above average?
How accountable are we for our professional growth, or do we abdicate our learning and development to our employer?
According to LinkedIn’s CEO Ryan Roslansky, if you stay in the same role from 2015 to 2022, roughly 25% of the skills required for that role would have changed during that time.
This means that even if you were an expert 2-3 years ago, you will still need to brush up on your skills to stay competitive today.
Here’s how I plan on maintaining my skills in 2023:
- On average, I read one book a month that supports my work, directly or indirectly. I have gained at least one new idea from every book I’ve ever read
- I take around four executive education courses every year, either virtual or in person. Some of them, such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udemy and EdX, are free or affordable
- I attend many industry networking events or conferences across the year to meet industry leaders and make new connections
- I find mentors and friends who can act as my mirror. They keep me grounded by telling me the truth–whether or not I like what they have to say
- I experiment and create constantly! This year, I am launching three new products: this newsletter, a podcast series and a LinkedIn masterclass
Why is this newsletter called Find Your Superpower?
I named this newsletter Find Your Superpower as we are the superheroes of our own lives, with the agency to shape our destiny, no matter our origin story.
I am confident that all of us have inside a latent superpower—something that we do better than anyone else in this world—that we have to discover and harness.
Over the COVID pandemic, I devoted time and energy to figuring out this black box called the LinkedIn algorithm. Being able to combine my old skills (academic professor) with new skills (public speaking and LinkedIn) will hopefully make me more resilient to changes in consumer demand and increase my UVP.
On that note, thank you to the 12,000+ subscribers who have signed up since last week.
See you next week.
Besides my newsletter, here’s how I can help you with your professional brand:
I’ve written, filmed and published an affordable masterclass on professional branding, called Find Your Superpower: How to Rebrand Yourself on LinkedIn.
It is a 1h on-demand video course that will help you identify your professional brand, write a brand statement from scratch, and create original content and network on LinkedIn.
Sign up to my newsletter mailing list to receive a 10% DISCOUNT coupon code for the masterclass.