Business Is An Ecosystem

Your value is determined by how you feed families

We all have different ambitions. Some of us have an idea of what we would like to accomplish in our careers and we have different metrics we use to measure how close we are to achieving these goals. One aspect of my career that I’ve been thinking about recently is how I want to measure my own success.


I used to think that my annual income was the best way to see if I was making any progress. After two years of working professionally, I saw how stupid this was and how chasing money wasn’t leading to any fulfillment. I decided the best way to reset this way of thinking was to quit my dream job and move to China. The plan was to live there only for a year and then once I found my answer, return home. However, as the old saying goes, “man has a plan and God laughs.”


I’ve been living abroad for a year and two months now. As of writing this post I have now moved to South Africa where the adventure continues.


I still haven’t found the answer to, “what’s the best way to measure my success?” Yet, I feel like I’m getting closer. I’ve been thinking a lot about how my own work affects other people. Not necessarily how my work directly affects my clients but, how it affects people in my team. I used to think that becoming an entrepreneur wasn’t for me, but maybe it is time for me to revisit that idea and stress-test it against something new that I want to pursue—feeding families.


The moment I realized I was a working adult

I have always had this desire to make my family proud, to have an impact, and to receive recognition for my work. These can be dangerous chips on my shoulder if I don’t manage these desires correctly, so I have begun to think about how I can channel these desires into something practical and attainable. That’s when I started to think about the importance of having food in my house, of being able to work to keep those I live with well-fed.


I was never able to sustain a job during college. For whatever reason, employers didn’t see me as a viable candidate. The first job I did get, I quit after eight days of working because I couldn’t stand making burritos all day for $8 an hour. My second job was working at a mall selling watches and it was extremely boring.


It was only after I graduated and I got my first marketing job that I started making a decent income. And I only noticed how this income changed my life when I was able to not only buy groceries for my family—I actually had extra money to spend on myself. When you grow up in a household where there’s only one parent, this becomes a huge milestone.


One easy way to measure success could be by “stacking plates”

I think that when I realized how much money I was making, that is when I started chasing the wrong goal. I was seeing my future in the wrong way. As I mentioned before, I wanted to chase money and that kept me from being happy. Now I want to chase feeding people, feeding as many families as I can. This doesn’t mean I want to start a non-profit or volunteer, I still like the idea of working for money. However, I want to expand upon what I am currently doing.


I’ve started to think that it may be a good idea to start a business (once I know what to sell) in order to grow as a professional. My personal ambition is to have a team of around four to five people to start with and have the company make enough money that all of us don’t need to worry about our monthly expenses.


In the ideal scenario, everyone working with me would be able to live comfortably. We no longer have the need to look at their current bank balance before going out to buy groceries. I’m sure there’s a whole list of different reasons why people start businesses, I guess this one just so happens to be mine. And who knows, I may get other reasons that make this decision seem logical and practical, or this may be the only reason why I want to start a business.


Our impact in the business world comes from how we help others. The more useful we are, the more successful we can become. If for example, I’m able to feed five households by creating a small agency, I think it is safe to say I’m on the right path. I don’t know though, I think this is something I am going to have to still think about.


Image credit: Unsplash


Career Design: Searching For A Combination Of Skills That Make You Irreplaceable

For Every Job Replaced, A New One Will Be Created

I’m an optimist. Instead of expecting not to have a job in the future because automation, I expect that there will be more new jobs than ever before. With this emergence of new jobs however, I am worried about making sure that I am consistently learning new skills that can be transferable. Instead of searching for that dream job, I am more concerned with growing a large combination of skills.


In 2007, author and cartoonist Scott Adams published a career advice article on skills acquisition. In this article, he explains that we should not be aiming to be in the top 1% of one specific skill. Instead, we should be focusing on being in the top 25% in a combination of skills. Using this tactic will make us more successful in the long run. He gives an example of how this approach helped him in his own career, creating one of the most popular cartoon comic strips in the world, Dilbert. Thirteen years later and his advice still rings true.


Becoming So Useful That You Seem Irreplaceable

Job security may be a remnant of the past but, there should still be methods that we can use to ensure we at least seem as irreplaceable as possible, in the eyes of the people we work with. The last thing anyone ever wants to be is a replaceable cog in the system, waiting to be usurped by cheaper labor. This applies to any professional working in any industry. So how do we showcase our usefulness, how do we show our clients, teammates, and bosses that we are irreplaceable?


We can show others that we are irreplaceable by bringing a unique set of skills to the table. What represents a person more than their job title is the set of demonstrable skills that they have. Even though this idea may seem obvious, skills aren’t necessarily discussed in the typical college setting. Students who have not yet entered the workforce don’t seem to notice that their studies don’t lead to the acquisition of applicable skills.


Understanding theories and concepts are always vital to the learning process yet, to really be ready to work in an industry requires the acquisition of skills. Having studied marketing case studies doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how to create a marketing campaign from scratch. Taking four years to learn photography and doesn’t necessarily prepare you for dealing with a picky client. This goes to show that we have to take a different approach to growing as young professionals.


Key Skills Everyone Should Know, Regardless Of What Industry They’re In

There must certainly be universal skills that transfer over to multiple industries and positions. Take for example, the ability to communicate effectively in both one’s writing and in public speaking. No matter the job, there will come a time each day that you will have to either speak or write to communicate with your team and clients. The better you are at asking and answering questions, delegating tasks clearly, and communicating your ideas will increase the chances of you advancing in your career.


Another transferable skill that you may want to cultivate is the ability to give and receive feedback. This skill is essential because without feedback, you nor your team can improve. Being able to give feedback may be more critical a skill to learn, as people are emotional and the ability to help others without appearing mean will considerably affect your career. Additionally, not being sensitive whenever you’re told to redo an assignment will show that you are a good listener. And it will show that you care more about the task at hand, rather than your own ego.


I am certain that the ability to learn quickly will also be useful to any team you are in. If you can learn new skills and concepts quickly, you help your team save money on training costs. Having the initiative to educate yourself on topics that relate to your industry also indicates an ability to potentially teach others. Also, if you can create a system of self-education, you standout amongst other professionals who become complacent and comfortable in their positions.


Lastly, time management is an essential skill that you must get and cultivate at any stage of your career. Without good time management skills, you will become unreliable. People won’t be able to trust you when you say that you will submit an assignment by a certain time. If you have good time management skills, at a certain point you’ll be able to manage and delegate tasks to other people. The more you cultivate this skill, the faster the teams that you manage will grow.


I am certain that there are many other skills that are equally as important to the four mentioned above. Above all else, what will make you an attractive candidate in any future job application will be your ability to clearly showcase your list of skills. There will always be jobs that require certifications and a minimum educational requirement but, what will become more important over time is demonstrating what skills you have that others don’t.


If you can start considering what unique set of skills you have right now, which skills you’d like to add, and how you want to demonstrate them, you will be well on your way to becoming incredibly useful to others. The more useful you become, the more irreplaceable you will seem.

Scroll Up