Last week I posted a starter to the series of how you can multiply your salary this year by increasing your value. Before I go into the how, I first want to cover the requirement for doing so. If you ignore the requirement, your values won’t sustain. You won’t get the results that you want and in the long run, it will only make you stressful.
I would like to start with the same disclaimer: having written this, I cannot guarantee that by reading this post (or the next ones) your salary will triple automagically. Stop daydreaming. The knowledge that (I hope) you get from this post will increase the chance, but you still need to make courageous efforts to make it happen.
A strong commitment is the only compulsory requirement
Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
A lot of people daydream about success but do not want to give their very best effort. If you want to take it easy, stop reading now. If you want money to fall from the sky, stop reading now. If you think that you are so good and so skilled that you deserve higher salary, stop reading now. This post is not meant for sissies. This post is written to you who are prepared to give it your all.
I was once a sissy and during that time, nothing great ever fell into my lap. Not until I made a move; not until I whooped my own ass and got my engine going.
There is only 1 commitment you must keep: never let up excellence. Commit wholeheartedly towards excellence. But this 1 commitment must be applied towards at least 3 areas: attitude, knowledge and skills.
Commitment towards attitude: great attitude is the building block of success.
No one likes an asshole. If you’re an ass, even if you’re very skillful and knowledgeable, there will be so many roadblocks in your journey.
I gotta confess, I used to be an ass (and I think I still am, from time to time). My ego got so big it swallowed my heart whole.
I thought the environment shaped me that way. Here’s what happened: after I graduated and came back home, my mom was particularly pushy. She often stated that I graduated from an expensive school and with the standard fresh grad salary in Indonesia, how am I ever going to prosper. Especially added with the fact that my sister had already been working for Canadian government (in health sector) for some time. I couldn’t help but felt the pressure.
I guess repetition really is the mother of awareness. I did not agree with what she said, but it slowly got into me. I became hasty. I became money oriented. I became greedy. I became an ass who tried so hard to look good so I could earn more money for the sake of proving myself, to make satisfy my ego. I loathed myself for doing that but hey, I needed to show some results. And the faster the better, right?
Turned out that was exactly the wrong approach. The more I focused on money, I became a worse person. I didn’t realize it back then, but thinking back, I must have said many things that I shouldn’t have said, hurt feelings of a few friends, put down co-leagues and other shameful stuffs.
The Bible states: you reap what you sow. I sowed bad attitude and bad results I reaped. The thing is, I couldn’t see that the problem was with me. I kept thinking: “what the hell is wrong with these people? Couldn’t they see I am bringing values to them? Why wouldn’t they accept me, my idea, my creation?”
It wasn’t my idea that was the problem, it was the way I communicate the ideas that was causing all the ruckus. How could people appreciate what I’ve got to say when they didn’t like me in the first place?
I eventually crumbled and lost confidence: there was a mismatch between what I think of me and what people think of me, and I was too arrogant to find out why.
If you have ever crumbled, you must know what it feels like to lose confidence. When your self-confidence is low, everything just turns bad. Everything you do feels wrong, everything you see feels inappropriate. Progress seems non-existence. It’s an ugly downward spiral. Fortunately, I got back up and things start to be better the moment I improved my attitude.
You need confidence to go forward. When you are confident, everything seems to just fall into place and you will automagically look better. Believe me. So have an excellent attitude: be confident, but don’t be an ass.
Commitment towards knowledge
I have no special talent. I am just passionately curious.
- Albert Einstein
There is always, always, always something new to learn. Everyday. If you ever feel like there’s nothing new to learn, that’s a sign of arrogance. Your cup is now full. When your cup is full, you can’t take anything new anymore.
Keep your cup empty. Don’t be narrow-minded. You can learn from every aspect of your everyday life, from nature to friends. You just need to appreciate these aspects and grab the lesson that they offer. You can even learn from some not-so-nice people! You can learn what makes them not nice and how you can put yourself in a better position.
Make sure to give sometime to yourself to find something new to learn everyday. Ask why is that happening, ask how does it work, ask whether it changes depending on context, ask many many things. Explore your world. God made it rich not without a purpose.
Now, with regards to work:
There will be specific examples on how to be great and indispensable in an upcoming post.
Commitment towards skill
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work
- Thomas Alva Edison
Imagine if Edison gave up on his 9999th trial. What the world will be like today?
I always tell my friends: “everything great takes time. Rome was not built in a day.” I know, I know, it’s easy to say, hard to apply. Maybe that’s why this is one of the timeless truth of life.
Even when you have the winning attitude and vast knowledge, you still need to train. Practice makes perfect. Apply your knowledge in as many different contexts as possible.
Without seeing how your knowledge being applied in real life, you don’t know what happens. If you don’t know what happens, you cannot make an adjustment to advance.
We progress and become better through a feedback loop between knowledge and application, through hypotheses and tests. There will be a lot of hypotheses and, without applying what we know, we won’t be able to separate dumb hypotheses from the good ones. And based on my experience, it’s a ratio between 20 to 1 between dumb ones and the good one. Your skill is developed through these exchanges between theory and application.
There’s no shortcut to attain experience. But believe me, if you love what you do, this is where the fun is. All the fun ideas in your head need to be materialized. Only then you can share it with others. And that, señor y señora, is when you can be truly happy.
I would like to close this post with an important note: you may have noticed that commitment towards knowledge and skills are related with attitude because it’s true. Develop yourself, develop your attitude and everything else turns magical.
Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value
- Albert Einstein
How to multiply your salary series: how do employers think . the only requirement to increase your value . how to increase your value
Several days ago, I met with a founder of a new startup. We met because the founder needed help on online marketing*. The startup is still ramping up users count through a contest.
* I apologize for the shameless self-promoting :)
The idea is pretty chill and it definitely has potential to be big. It promises a value to users to get the stuffs that they want for cheaper (not a daily deal). And it also has latent potential to spot the latest trend.
Yes, I am about to raise a concern
So like usual, I dug around: I asked a few probing questions. The founder was very enthused with the startup so the beans just spilt left and right. Heh.
But it was a very positive session. I could feel a rush of emotions flowing and an exuberant excitement from the founder. I could tell the founder is putting everything into this baby. Just look at the following commitments the founder stated:
I am going to build this cool feature that can do this and that
I am going to provide this curation tool for the user
I am going to have all features done by next year
Now, I can relate to that. I used to feel all the excitement of building this cool feature and that awesome tool for the users. How the heck can I possibly fail when I give this much value to the users? No way, Jose. There’s just no way.
And fail I did.
The problem is I had a perception bias. I created this thing and I can see the value in it. I have problems that this thing can solve, so why not others too right?
Nope. I learned the hard way that my problem is my problem and their problem is their problem. They and I may have a common problem, but I should not have assumed. Imposing my problem unto others’ was not a wise move. David Hume would have laughed at me and said “I told you so”.
Value, like problem, is relative
The founder was about to go on an emotionally exhaustive journey without knowing for certain whether the ship that is being built is going to last. That is crazy! The founder’s intellectual capital was research of consumer behavior, research of similar startup in another country and research on potential market.
Those are good researches. Definitely, not the slightest doubt. The only problem is if you do not back it up by validating your idea in the real world. Research is largely about what has been, what the history suggests. But that does not entail that the sun is going to rise tomorrow for the founder.
If you have a startup, please start by formulating your value hypothesis: what is the problem that you are going to solve & how are you going to solve that problem. And then build a minimum viable product specifically to validate that hypothesis. No additional features. And test it on the market. Measure the feedback. Learn and iterate.
No features shall be built without knowing exactly the value it delivers and it has gone through validation period. Stop wasting your time accumulating wastes.
P.S. I can’t disclose the startup.