Friday, April 17, 2009

Making Yourself Useful (and Wealthy) in the Marketplace

I had lunch with a friend yesterday which gave me the idea for this post. He is the epitome of wealth and success in the market place. I am guessing that he makes close to seven figures a year and has a list of credentials as long as your arm. This man is a well respected cardiac surgeon, actually Chief of Cardiology at a major medical center, and he is also a professor who teaches cardiac surgery at a top 10 medical university. His research credits are numerous and renowned. He is sought after to speak at medical conferences around the country and around the world. In addition, he has a wonderful family, is an excellent golfer, is a tech whiz, and is an overall good guy. What does this have to do with you? Plenty. Let's look at all of the components that lead to success and wealth in the marketplace using this guy as an example.
  • He chose a profession that used his innate skills and interests. He always has been a "science geek" which helped spur him towards a career in medicine. What are your skills, aptitudes, and interests? If you spend your career chasing a goal that you have no natural ability or passion for, it will be an uphill battle and you will probably end up miserable.
  • He decided on a goal (becoming a doctor) and stuck with it until it was achieved. Many people have plans and goals but most don't stick with them until they are reached. Do you have clear goals that you work towards diligently until they are reached?
  • He chose a profession that is necessary and in demand. Many professions are subject to the whim of the economy (car manufacturing, construction, stock trading) and are not critically necessary, while others (doctors, lawyers, nurses) are both in demand and necessary no matter what the economy is doing. People can skip the restaurant and cook at home but they can't perform surgery or dental work on themselves. Is your profession both necessary and in demand?
  • He chose a profession that requires specialized knowledge, skills, and training. The difference between a burger flipper and a surgeon is the knowledge, skills, and training that are required to be successful. Generally a job that requires a couple of months of training is much less valuable than a job that requires a decade of training. Do you have specialized knowledge, skills, and training that separates you from the masses?
  • He has multiple sources of income. There are many ways to spin a profession off into different types of money-making opportunities including doing, teaching, and writing. If you are a plumber, you could do actual plumbing but you could also write articles or books on the subject, teach classes on the subject, and maybe even have a TV show on the HG network.
  • He works. Hard. I know a range of very successful people and they are always doing something. Most watch little if any TV, they don't spend all day doing useless things on the computer, and they don't spend the day attached to their Wii. What they spend their time doing includes reading, increasing their skills and knowledge through classes and conferences, and sharing knowledge with others.
  • He has made many sacrifices. The successful people I know have sacrificed sleep, college parties, money (in the early years), fun (wild spring break vacations usually aren't even on the radar), a social life, and many other things to reach their goals.
  • He makes time for other important things in his life such as family, vacations, golf, and learning the latest tech. All work and no play, you know...

Anyway, you get the idea. This isn't to say that everyone can or even should strive for the heights of wealth and acclaim that certain careers provide. I thoroughly appreciate my postman, car mechanic, and the lady that serves coffee at church, however if this is something you seek, there is no "secret" that you need to be let in on. Common sense, a clear path, hard work, and some thought towards the needs of the market place will take you as far as you want to go.

1 comment:

  1. Very good, people need to be reminded to choose a path in life that is unique to their own true nature. The way to lifelong happiness.

    I was once a land surveyor - which is a very good field for one who likes the outdoors and has interest in math and science. Especially in the Great North Woods. Trouble is, this field is subject to the whims of the economy. People do not generally need land surveyed, and will put it off during a bad economy. Boom and bust cycles.

    Add to that, technology reduced the size of survey crews from three (two to stretch a tape and on to measure angles) to two (one to hold a rod and another to measure angles) and now even just one guy can survey a plot of land using GPS.

    The key is to become the best in a field that you naturally excel in, a field that cannot be pimped out to third world countries to workers willing to labor for low wages. A field that will always be in demand. And a field that most people will find barriers to entry due to the time, effort, intelligence, etc that it takes to master it.

    The medical field is an excellent example of a career that will always provide for you even during the hard times. Even should society fall apart, a medical doctor will continue to be in demand.