When we work with businesses we often ask, what’s their differentiator. What makes them different. Some businesses will tell you that they are high quality, or the cheapest or have been around a long time. We ask that question, because we want to know their offer, how they will fit in. As individuals, whether you are an entrepreneur or employee, you need to figure out your value. Your value is your differentiator, what you bring to the table, how you contribute to the business in a way that no one else can. You see this misaligned in businesses all the time. People with great skills, but in the wrong position. A great programmer, may not make the best manager. A great salesman may not make the best CEO. Have great client skills? Long hours being a front-end developer, may not be your thing. The hard part is figuring out what you are good at, where you have the most value and position yourself to be in those roles.
Discovering what you are good at may not be that hard, but accepting it can be difficult. One place I worked the owner was the best illustrator I had ever seen. In fact, to this day, I haven’t seen anyone that could draw from memory like he could. He really liked being the boss, but he was just a poor communicator. There were many days, he would be in his zone working and we just didn’t know what we were supposed to do that day. Other companies I worked for, figured it out early, and the CEO knew he was actually the best salesman. He put others in charge of running the company, while he did what he did best. For some people it’s hard to let go and embrace their special skill and for others it will take time for their special talent to evolve and for the right role to reveal itself.
For me, working with people has always come naturally. In fact, most of the jobs that I remember fondly are the ones where I interacted with the public or a team on a daily basis. I fought it for years, learning, design, development and programming as that is where a lot of the action was. When the web first started, everyone wanted to be designing and building, not just talking about it. Since then the field has broadened and there are project managers, client managers, account managers, strategists, etc. Being successful working with clients and more importantly, being that bridge between the client and the developers, has turned into it’s own discipline. Client/Account management and the Business Of Web Development is now getting a lot of attention.
My value is clearly working with people. There are a lot of roles that I can do with that skill, but finding the one where I can have the biggest impact has always been my goal. It’s taken my years to embrace it after countless years of people telling me I’m great working with people. So, what is your value? What do people keep telling you, that you are good at? Are you in the best role to use that value?