Defining Your Price Tag

Most people have high expectations of their first paycheck.

The promise of getting your first job is like a treasure chest containing wonderful jewels of life — like independence from your family, a ticket into real adulthood, the promise of defining your own life and finding your way in the world.

And depending on the profession you’ve chosen, you will either be satisfied with your first paycheck, or completely disillusioned. I think it’s safe to say that your initial ‘price tag’ — or salary — might not be what you imagined it would be.

I discovered Jim Rohn a few years ago and loved his definition of how we bring value to the marketplace: “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” It took me a while to assimilate this but it eventually helped me to get free from connecting my income to my sense of worth.

Your salary is not a determination of your worth. It is a remuneration of your current skills set. Your salary is a cost to your organisation in exchange for the benefit of your service. Earning a salary is a great way to start out your career and gain experience — but in the light of the fourth industrial revolution, it’s short-sighted to make that a long-term plan.

So many university students that I’ve been interacting with are teeming with entrepreneurial ideas. Some already have start-ups on the go as they take on their first job, knowing that they have a side business that can eventually turn into their full time gig.

Increasing your value in the marketplace

 

The world doesn’t owe you anything. Entitlement in the workplace, in any form, is not rewarded.

Never be limited by your salary and don’t let your job title define you. Give your best at work, serve your company and your clients as if you were an owner in that business. What you don’t realise is that your work shapes you.

As you expand your skills set, gain experience and learn how to solve problems, your value to the marketplace grows simultaneously.

One of Rohn’s refrains is also: “If you do more than what you get paid to do, soon you will get paid more for what you do.” Some might scoff at this idea but I’ve found it to be true in my own life. We all you have a choice to make: you can either be limited by your salary or you can be guided by your salary.

The answer is not to focus on getting more — but to better manage what you have right now. If you learn to manage what you have well, then you will soon receive more to manage.

Most people want the increase in salary — but they don’t want the increase in responsibility that comes with the higher pay package.

So if you want to define your price tag, decide to show up for yourself everyday. The best way to future proof yourself in the rapidly advancing world of work is to inculcate an entrepreneurial mind set.

Become someone who takes initiative, who thinks creatively, who is adaptive and flexible. Make the commitment to lifelong learning. Be realistic about what you have to offer. Resolve to know yourself better than others do. Be open to constructive feedback.

Stay humble and keep growing.

Eventually, you will get to determine the price tag on your work — once you’ve proven your value to the market.

Work week reflection question: What is my current value to the market? How can I increase my value to the market in the short to long-term?

I have contributed to barbaric consumerism. And it kills me.

I’d finally found the perfect pair of black trousers. The fit was great, even though it wasn’t on sale. (The large sale signs were what drew me into the fast fashion store in the first place).

I was standing in line to buy it but couldn’t ignore the gnawing sensation in my tummy.

Just weeks before, I was surprised by the low prices for decent items at a different fast fashion store. I bought a gift for my friend’s birthday (she’s a lawyer) and was confused when I saw her visibly wince when she saw the label, even refusing to try it on.

When I pressed her for the reason a few days later, she told me how that retailer, among many others, was notorious for their use of sweat shops (and child labour in particular).

I didn’t want to believe it.

And then I Googled. And yes, she was right. It was my first real glimpse into the hidden evils of our convenient, affordable fashion. I remember seeing the list of fast fashion labels and the store that I was now standing in was one of them.

The trousers were made in a particular country and I was horrified to read that workers from that country had sewn messages into the clothes to let consumers know that they were not being paid for their work.

I vacillated for a few more seconds.

And then, I indignantly left the line, put the pants back on the rack (but in a hidden spot in case I changed my mind and came back) and left the store.

I make a monthly contribution to A21, an organisation committed to freeing sex slaves around the world. I want to give more than I currently do — and eventually I will.

What made me sad in that moment — and decidedly remorseful a few days later after I watched The True Cost Netflix documentary — was how my own addictions and compulsions can be stealing life from people in other parts of the world.

As a fourth generation South African Indian, I have been eternally grateful to my great great grandfather who got on that boat and risked his life to find a new one.

I know struggle. I know pain.

So it is inconceivable that I should close my eyes and swipe my card to get a good deal. As a recovering shopaholic, I’ve bought into the systematic machinations of consumerism. Trying to buy something to fix what’s missing on the inside.

And this is why I think the world’s gone mad. Why do people give themselves over to barbaric consumerism, choosing to be oblivious to the real cost and feigning innocence with the statement: “Isn’t that the way all clothes are made?”

Our digital, interconnected world ensures that we have no excuses for mindless behaviour. We can’t feign ignorance. The source of the things we buy is available at our fingertips. So a quick Google search confirmed my intuition. Knowing what I knew, I needed to make an informed choice while standing in that line.

If I bought that pair of trousers, I was saying that greed is ok. Abuse, discrimination, a disregard for basic humanity, is ok. That some people are just better off than others and that’s just the way things are.

It’s just a little tiny hop, skip and jump to the ideology driving the growing number of pedophiles scoring the dark net, wreaking havoc on entire communities.

Exploiting the disenfranchised to achieve selfish ends is never ok.

I am carrying this sadness around with me. It feels like not enough people care. We are making silent votes for or against death every time we make a purchase.

I can choose the live of another without compromising my own.

I can choose to stop compromised the lives of others over serving my own selfish needs.

 

The Secret to Personal Progress

I don’t know whether you’ve realised this yet – or whether you’re still learning this life truth: you can’t figure life out on your own.

I think I’ve always known this to some degree but I didn’t always know how to seek the help I needed in healthy ways.  I unfortunately developed a bad habit of listening to the wrong voices when I was younger (with disastrous consequences) so it’s taken me a while to understand how to identify the right kind of people to ask for help.

As an avid reader and knowledge seeker, if I have questions around a particular topic, I go into immediate research mode. Google searches help to some degree, but then I always find myself looking for videos on the topic instead. There is something about hearing a voice speak about a topic that I’m interested in, that serves as a warming illumination that melts away clouds of confusion.

We want to hear someone who has been through what we’re going through, who had the same questions we have and somehow found answers that took them forward. We want connection. I’ve discovered that the secret to personal progress is: finding the right voices, at the right time, will help you go in the right direction.

You can of course talk to the wrong people at the right time (right time meaning that you are at a crossroads of decision) and end up going down the wrong path. Getting lost because of bad advice often leads to frustration and resentment. It might make you feel like giving up because you feel like things are so far gone that they can’t be salvaged.

But that is not true. There is always a new opportunity to start again. So if that is where you are today (hopeless and despondent) – let my voice be the one that encourages you to get up from here and find your way back to your path of purpose.

A book of wisdom says: “Without advice plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Finding the right voices

 

 

You don’t have to learn from your own mistakes. You can learn from the experiences and mistakes of others. The experiences of others are able to serve as building blocks in your own understanding. Identifying the right voices doesn’t have to be an impossible quest. Here’s the guidelines I use when asking for advice:

1. They have a level of success in a particular area that you wish to attain.

The best advisers are people that are  currently doing the thing that you want to do. Or have experience in the field you want information about. It doesn’t have to be specifically related to your field, but if they are applying the skills that you need to apply, and doing so successfully, then that is something you can learn from. Recently, I was consulting with someone who has a retail company, as their social media presence on Instagram was better than mine. Even though the product differed, the marketing principles remained the same.

Talking to him helped me to connect the dots and suddenly I could see what my focus area has been for many years. There were many other factors that contributed to this moment of clarity but our conversations helped me refine my offering quicker than I could have done on my own.

2. They have your best interests at heart.

Do the people you’re talking to have your best interests at heart? If you know that there is someone in your personal network or friendship circles that might be harbouring a   “what’s in this for me” expectation, chances are they the advice they offer is going to be tainted with self-interest. Unfortunately, not everyone has pure intentions and the golden rule here is to trust your instinct. If you feel uncomfortable around the person, or unsure of their motives in helping you, then rather look for an alternate source of wisdom.

3. They are happy to see you succeed.

Good counsellors (another word for wise people) are those who are not jealous of you, neither do they see you as a threat. They genuinely believe in you and want to see you succeed. A friend of mine has developed a possible business solution in the form of big data. He is super intelligent and has a good character – he just doesn’t have all the practical business experience yet because he is still completing his masters degree. I set up a meeting with a business owner who operates in the IT field and after a brief discussion, my friend realised where he needed to focus his development efforts.

He could have wasted a lot of time, energy, effort and money developing something that went bust. Because He was open to learning, it didn’t matter that he didn’t even know the person that helped to steer him in the right direction until I introduced them. So the lesson here is that if you know that there is a group of people who believe you, don’t be afraid to ask for help because they could connect you to the right person that will direct you along the right path. I found this great post on LinkedIn that will help you understand the power of “indirect networking: http://bit.ly/2sJAg1e

4. They are willing to assist where they can.

When you’re asking someone for help, you will need to fit into their schedule. When is the most convenient time for them to squeeze in a coffee with you?

Be grateful for the time someone gives you. If you can afford it, pay for their coffee or lunch. They will feel honoured that you value their time and their input (John Maxwell has made this a staple of his personal development).

You don’t want to come across as naggy or needy. Ask once, remind them again but if they are too busy and haven’t been able to make time to see you, then it might be better to move on to someone else who has more time. There might be an opportunity at a later stage to hone in on their wisdom.

5. They are making progress in their own endeavours.

Remember that while people aren’t perfect, there is a lot than you can learn from them. Asking for advise from someone doesn’t mean that they have it all together – but you are gleaning from their expertise and progress in a particular aspect of their lives. Someone might be a fitness freak – but they aren’t great at building successful relationships. Just because you’ve received positive input from them in one area of personal growth, doesn’t mean that you should follow everything that they do.

The golden rule with personal development is that you are ultimately responsible for your own life choices. Asking for advise is valuable. The way that you apply the knowledge that you’ve received is what leads to wisdom manifested in your own life. So keep moving forward, keep the hunger alive and seek out the right advice to help you go in the right direction.

 

 

 

Image of young boy dressed in a suit looking at hot air balloons

My Top 20 Workplace Lessons

People are living longer than ever before. This means that we will be working for longer that we expect to. Current research reveals that the average expected lifespan of the Millennial Generation is 100 – 110 years (http://huff.to/1JkBT6w). That’s a few decades past the current average retirement age of 65. So like it or not, work is going to be a necessary aspect of our lives for longer than we may currently envision.

I started working at the age of 18 with much fear and uncertainty. Now I’m 36 and suddenly it’s my crown work anniversary. Things are a little less cloudy now and I’m facing up to my fears. Here’s a few things I’ve picked up over the past 18 years.

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