How To Be Valuable

by Karl Rohde — Get free updates of new posts here. Photo Credit: Karl Rohde 


As the industrial age fades away and the social age becomes more established, your personal market value becomes more important. As the cost of labour gets cheaper and as white collar work goes overseas, the challenge to compete gets a little tougher. As services become more like utilities, as retailers race to the bottom and more of what we do can be automated, our personal value automatically comes under increased scrutiny.

In this blog article, personal value is a reference to the things you and I do that people or businesses will actually pay for.

10 Things People Will Pay You For

  1. Providing convenience.
  2. Fixing problems.
  3. Providing leadership.
  4. Providing entertainment and experiences.
  5. Providing guidance - managing, teaching, coaching, mentoring, training and consulting type work.
  6. Providing skilled and unskilled labour. These are transactional tasks most people do that include implementing things, trade work and heavy lifting work.
  7. Improving someone's status - creating and selling products (i.e. luxury cars, jewellery, houses, clothing, material possessions that represent class and wealth.)
  8. Providing access - being a middle man. Front row seats, meeting important people and grand events are included in this one.
  9. Providing utility - a product or service that is useful. Tools, smart-phone, wheel barrow, hammer, paper towel, car service, gas, petrol, electricity, etc.
  10. Providing insight. Experience based conceptual work. Public speaking and specialist consulting type work.

Considering these are things that people pay for, your personal market value is dependent on what things you can do in this list. If you have some form of income you're doing something on this list. But not everything we do is valuable at work.

How We Learnt To Do Valueless Things

In the thick of the industrial age many people could busy themselves with being busy, providing little to no value and get paid a lot. Corporate structures got so big and complex it effectively created a haven for people to do very little and claim big salaries. Often a "Jack Welch" GE type clean out takes place and clears the decks for real work until it happens again. Or even worse it never changes and you end up like Kodak and Block Buster – out of the market.

The trap of this cycle is that many of us have learnt how to do things that don’t actually provide value to the market. The risk is when the economy shifts and we get caught out with little value to offer.

How To Increase (and Safeguard) Your Value!

  1. Your first action is to create a list of things you do that is worth paying for. This is list #1. Think about this from the perspective of a contractor, a temp worker and a business owner and what the open market will pay for. Think like you're the CEO of you. You're on your own and now you're selling your services.
  2. Next create a list of things you do that no one will pay you for on the open market. Think about what you do that does not fit into the above list of things people will pay you for. This is list #2.
  3. Now intentionally do more of the things on list #1 and less of the things on list #2.
  4. Once you get clear on your verifiable market value start thinking about your passions, strengths, values and how they converge.

As I work through the challenge of doing meaningful work I realize all market value is a product of creation. If you want to increase your personal market value, focus on creativity and production. This is why I talk about working like an artist. The obligation of all artists is to creatively express themselves and ship their art. More on this to follow here at

Art isn't a result, it’s a journey. The challenge of our time is to find the journey worthy of your heart and soul. --Seth Godin.

You task for now is to get clear on what makes you valuable. Thanks for reading this far.

Question: Are there other things people will pay us for? What are your thoughts on being valuable? Leave a comment in the box below. If you liked this post please share on your social networks, email to a few friends or reply to this to email me. Connect with me on Google+Twitter and LinkedIn