Tag Archives: salaries

Would you rather get an MBA or start a business?

I came across the infographic that I thought was interesting and thought I would share about the cost of an MBA and whether it is worth it.

As a career switcher, getting an MBA helped me change the direction of my career, but what do you think about whether getting an MBA is worth it or not?

And if you had a $100,000 would you rather use it to start a business or to get an MBA?

Sound off in the comments.

Would you rather get an MBA or start a business?

Created by: MBAOnline.com

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Personal Innovation – Shine Your Star

Personal Innovation - Shine Your StarI had a nice conversation with a friend from London today that I haven’t spoken with in a while and we got onto the topic of careers. We started talking about my article on Personal Innovation and how in most professional occupations there are the stars and then there is everyone else.

We talked about how stars in certain professions might only be 5% better at something than their peers but get paid 5x to 50x more than the rest. There are certain professions like professional athletics where this is particularly true. But at the same time in many professions including lawyers, consultants, managers, speakers, even cooks and hair stylists, the stars are those who are best at marketing themselves. So if you really want to become a star, you have to hone the skills necessary to market yourself and/or your ideas.

If you read my article about The Commodity Marketplace for Employees you’ll get a lot more background on this topic. Today I want to focus on a good point that my friend brought up. He had consciously tried to build up an ‘aura’ (or a “reputation for greatness”) in his organization and had been somewhat successful in doing so. But after succeeding at building his ‘aura’, some coworkers who had previously been helpful in building it, suddenly stopped supporting him. Why did they do this? Well, they began to feel that his ‘aura’ had become stronger than their own, and a potential threat to their own career ambitions.

So, if you are really good at what you do, is building yourself into a star doomed to failure?

Definitely not!

This is one of the hazards of focusing your personal innovation efforts within your organization. While it is important to have a reputation for greatness within your organization of a certain level, it is more important to focus on expanding your reputation for greatness outside the organization and here is why:

  1. To build a reputation for greatness within your organization you are dependent on your peers and managers saying flattering things about you and throwing their support behind your efforts, but at some point this support will likely decrease or cease
    • The only exception is a company growing so fast that there is endless opportunity for all
    • This is because people eventually become threatened and will not want to be seen as inferior
  2. Building up a reputation for greatness within your organization really only helps you
    • It might help your manager if he/she can show their bosses that they are a great developer of talent and deserve to move up to the next level
    • It does not add value to the organization
  3. Making yourself a star outside your organization increases the awareness of other companies to your promise and potential
    • It also increases the profile of your organization as being a thought leader
    • Upper management will eventually recognize this thought leadership benefit
      1. Improved reputation
      2. Free advertising
      3. Free public relations

Let’s face it, becoming an internal star will probably only get you a 3% annual raise instead of a 2% annual raise, and possibly on the fast track for promotions (but only until you become a little too threatening to the wrong person). If you truly are a star, begin preparing yourself mentally for the possibility that you may have to leave your current employer to be compensated appropriately, continue to execute brilliantly and start polishing your star.

If you do a good job building up your self-marketing skills and show that you do have something unique and valuable to say, then you will become of greater value to another organization than to your current one, and to a sufficient level where the other organization is willing to campaign to acquire you.

So, the following questions remain:

  1. Are you really a star?
  2. Are you committed to the hard work and learning necessary to shine your star?
  3. Are you ready to leave your current employer when the time is right for a new opportunity or to create your own?

Well, are you?

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Innovate Yourself – Becoming Overpaid

Innovate Yourself - Becoming OverpaidA fun one from the archive (2007)

I came across this article from MarketWatch on the Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S. and thought it was worthy of discussing. I don’t want to focus on whether these occupations are overpaid or not (I’m sure the people working in these roles would disagree with the author), but instead on what we can all learn from this article. First here is a list of the ten occupations:

  1. Wedding photographers
  2. Major airline pilots
  3. West Coast longshoremen
  4. Skycaps at major airports
  5. Real estate agents selling high end homes
  6. Motivational speakers and ex-politicians on the lecture circuit
  7. Orthodontists
  8. CEOs of poorly performing companies
  9. Washed-up pro athletes in long-term contracts
  10. Mutual-fund managers

Next, here is my list of some of the common threads amongst the ten occupations chosen by Chris Pummer of CBS MarketWatch with the input from anonymous compensation experts, and an academic examination of how someone might approach the “problem” of increasing their income by looking at these common threads:

  1. Power
    • Create a situation where meeting your demands becomes an extremely attractive alternative to not meeting them. Some people would refer to this as identifying points of leverage.
    • Banding together with other highly skilled co-workers into a union is one approach that people take.
    • Another is to take create sufficient revenue for an organization so that the company doesn’t want to risk interruption of that cashflow.
  2. Fear
    • People are afraid of someone messing up their wedding photos, their investments, or their safe journey.
    • Put yourself in a position to directly protect a customer’s memories, finances, or their life itself.
  3. Establish a “tradition”
    • Pro-actively create the perception that it is the usual way of doing things for a customer to tip you or pay you a percentage of their bill (regardless how big).
    • The people at the airport taking your bags at the check-in counter do the same job as curbside check-in (they give you a ticket and check your bag), but we all believe it is accepted practice to tip the curbside check-in person and not the person at the check-in counter inside. We tip a “waiter” for taking our order and giving us food and drink, but we don’t do the same for the “cashier” at McDonald’s do we?
  4. Create a shortage
    • Organize the people in your “profession” and work to create barriers to entry that can be used to control supply.
    • Trade unions do this to some extent with apprenticeship programs and the like.
    • In addition to Orthodonists, Pharmacists and Veterinarians have been accused of this.
  5. Turning garbage into gold
    • Identifying a job that most people wouldn’t want to take, but where a highly qualified person is desired, can result in a job that might pay quite well.
    • If you are a supervisor, try to position yourself to supervise the group of people in your organization that makes more money than the group you supervise now (usually a supervisor will make more than the people he/she supervises).
    • Most talented managers won’t take on a position at a struggling company, and as a result the company will either have to over-pay to get good talent to join or be satisfied with hiring people who want to stay in the local area or couldn’t get hired by a better performing company in the industry. If you have a tolerance for risk, seek out opportunities at underperforming companies in your industry and play up the career risk about moving from your successful company to their unsuccessful one in the compensation discussions.

Would it be wrong for an individual or a group of employees to look to game these common threads consciously?

Organizations are constantly looking for ways to put downward pressure on wages, so would it be wrong for individuals to look after their own self-interests and attempt to maximize their ability to take care of their family?

I would argue that it is the responsibility of the individual to protect their own self-interests and look to maximize their wages in the same way it is the responsibility of the organization to look to minimize wages for the self-interest of the shareholders.

Build a Common Language of Innovation

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