As the class trickled in, I could hear the frustration….
"I can’t believe we’re being asked to do even more," one exclaimed. "There are so many people out and now we need to pick up the slack," another retorted.
I was planning on covering Money and Relationships that day but, I could tell their minds were somewhere else. So, I simply asked "What happened?" The floodgates opened. It was a true vent session. Each person built upon the other. Too much work, not enough pay, limited recognition – that was the gist of their frustration. The general consensus was to either leave or do the bare minimum. This was a group of self-motivated people being pushed to the edge.
I listened patiently. As a third party, I didn’t have a dog in the fight, which made the group more willing to open up. I had seen this before. After 20 minutes of venting, I asked a simple question, "How would your attitude change if the company was your client, not your employer?" It’s called Me, Inc.
Me, Inc. is the notion that each person is his/her own enterprise. In other words, you are the business. Your skills are an asset. Your employer is a client. Your income is revenue. Your expenses are costs. And, you make decisions to maximize returns for Me, Inc.
A few key concepts of Me, Inc. include:
Building the Asset: Companies want to increase the value of their assets. Similarly, for Me, Inc., you want to build the value of your primary asset: your skills. If a company asks you to do something new, it’s a great opportunity to build your skills. Who cares whether or not they pay you for it initially? Your goal is to build the asset and increase future compensation. Companies rely on this same type of long-term thinking.
Testimonials: Companies, and startups specifically, need testimonials. They need references. Your employer is a "client" of Me, Inc. and you want their testimonial. If they serve as a positive reference, you become more marketable.
Advisory Board: Companies have formal or informal advisory boards. These people advise the business on a range of decisions. Good advisory boards include people with different skills – sales/marketing, technology, operations, etc. Similarly, Me, Inc. needs an advisory board. These people are invested in the success of Me, Inc. They are rarely your friends. Instead, they are mentors, old professors, old bosses, etc. – people that believe in you and can give you sound advice along your journey.
Focus on Profitability: Companies want to maximize long-term profitability. They do this by driving sales, managing costs and making strategic investments. For Me, Inc., maximizing profitability is equivalent to maximizing long term savings. You do this by increasing income, managing your expenses and making investments in yourself. For example, you can increase income by selling stuff online, you can manage your expenses with a budget and you can make investments in yourself through education. Some of these decisions may make you unprofitable in the short term but pay off over time.
Culture: A strong culture is a competitive advantage for any business. Culture consists of the attitudes, values and beliefs of the organization. It’s a living and breathing entity – you can feel it, especially when it’s broken. For Me, Inc., you set the culture. What are your values? How do you handle adversity? What’s the attitude in which you do business? Write them down. Live by them. If it’s broken, fix it. Only you can establish the culture for Me, Inc.
As we reached the end of class, I could see the wheels turning. Me, Inc. was a paradigm shift. It was a new way of thinking about themselves, their "job" and how to work towards the future. Unlike the changes at work, Me, Inc. was completely in their control.
As the class was leaving, one of the participants asked, "What happens if Me, Inc. goes out of business?" The entrepreneur in me responded, "Lick your wounds and start another Me, Inc."
What else? What other concepts are part of Me, Inc.? What tools do you use to make Me, Inc. successful?