The Principle of Monetization in Your Career

Think of the coolest, most impactful-to-your-life companies that have started up over the past 20 years. You surely think of Google. Apple had to be in there and so did Amazon.com. If you manage B2B customer relationships, Salesforce.com comes to mind. For B2C businesses, Yelp rolls off the tongue pretty easily. For connecting, you probably think of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Now think about older companies that have launched new products or services that have been disruptive. Think of your favorite local businesses that are crushing it. Think of the new stuff you’re hearing about that isn’t yet mainstream in transportation, energy and biotech.

None of these companies or products were or will be profitable on day one. Some of them didn’t make any revenue at all in the beginning. But the people behind them knew they were creating value for their market and that was their priority. Monetizing it was an afterthought because these people know one important thing:

If you create value, there will be a payoff.

This principle is never untrue. However, there are plenty of examples of companies that will not launch a product until they have a profitable revenue stream lined up. This is where truly great potential is squandered, because sometimes value that could be created never comes to fruition - all because monetization was the priority instead of value creation.

This principle scales all the way down to you. If you create value for your company, there will be a payoff: fulfillment in your career and plenty of money down the road. The problem out there is that there are way too many people asking “how much more will I get paid if I {insert value creation activity here}?” Will I get paid more if I take this training? If I go outside my job description to improve something? Solve a problem without being asked to?

Some people ask these questions out loud to their managers, e.g. “If I take this extra training you are offering me, will I get a raise?” But most of us simply rationalize it in our head when we decide to pass on opportunities to create value because:

  • It’s not our job
  • We already work too hard
  • Our peers aren’t doing it, so it’s not fair to us to have to do it
  • It would be giving away our labor for free

This thinking is just as flawed as it is rampant. To be a disruptive force, you have to be the person who is creating value where no one else is. Those opportunities where your peers are slacking off are not unfair to you, because they are your ticket to a huge payoff down the road. Likewise, extra training or assignments are themselves compensation to you. They give you the tools and vehicles to create value; expecting guaranteed payment upon completion of training or in advance of taking on an assignment makes no sense.

If you want to be a disrupter at your company remember one mantra: value now, money later.

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