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  • Writer's pictureCG Learning the Ropes

You are a business: so what’s your value?

(This article was written for military members.)

There are a lot of quotes and sayings worth revisiting and repeating. One worth revisiting and pondering over as you commute to work or strike up a friendly conversation at work is from Shawn Corey Carter, professionally known as Jay-Z. If you didn’t know, Jay-Z is a husband, father of three and has a net worth of $1 billion. He is also a songwriter, rapper and a record producer as well. You may or may not enjoy his music or even hip-hop music but the professional development lesson applies to all.

He said, “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man. You don’t need a business to think like one.” Sure Jay-Z is playing on words in this quote but his point is valid. You are a business!

You are probably rolling your eyes saying “I am in the military and this quote doesn’t apply to me.” First let’s look at how you are not a business. You don’t register your name with the local county register for a business name or file your taxes as a Sole proprietary or LLC. And you don’t have a company website that offers “100% guarantee or your money back”.

So what does it mean to be a business? Most would agree, a business is an entity (for profit or not-for-profit) that produces a valued item and/or service others want and/or need.

So, what’s your value? Your business value is applying your knowledge (based on your chosen rate and rank), time and energy to any tasking thereby providing a service others want or don’t want.

Now, let’s look at how you are a business. You have a military career to include a military rank (E-4 thru O-6), a chosen career path with time at various units, qualifications and a social media presence on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, or LinkedIn. So you in many ways, you are a business with a value.

Still don’t believe me? What do we say every transfer season? “Oh, Petty Officer ____is leaving but I heard we are getting another Petty Officer to replace him/her.” Or “I heard LTJG Lane got his first choice to HQ and we are getting a ENS Victory straight from the academy as their replacement.” In those conversations, your brain quickly senses a new and different person/business value to your team.

So how do you grow business? Or value? Most businesses view their company from a growth rate. This growth rate can be determined by the week, month, quarter or year. How do we increase our business value in the military? You pursue the next rank. Of course the promotion zone comes at different intervals and the advancement list changes every year with the cut-off list but ask any high ranking member how she/he achieved so much rank and I will bet you they will say…I kept applying myself. This means they kept raising their value to the organization. They kept challenging themselves to handle more knowledge and responsibility than they were expected. So, subsequently and maybe even on a subconscious level, they were seeking more rank.

How do you increase your value? A couple of suggestions include:

1. Start gaining more knowledge by creating a professional library that matches your career path. Look on your shelf, do you have any books that reflect your career as a military person or about your rate? Are these issued books and are you seeking outside thoughts from various authors? Become the person who has the most knowledge on your rate/career path knowledge.

2. Start gaining more knowledge by writing more. Writing makes you think. It’s that simple. You don’t have to be a published author to create a blog or website or even a weekly email to your colleagues in the office on something you have learned or want to share with others.

3. Understand how the organization values its personnel. Understand the promotion/advancement system. Can you describe to various people in your life parents, spouse, shipmates; how the organization promotes/advances others? What’s important in the organization’s eyes to be advanced? Can you influence these measurements? A better SWE/test score? A better set of EER/OER marks? An award? Outside community involvement? Does your supervisor know you are looking to increase your value to the team?

4. Are you challenging yourself to handle more roles? Do you have qualifications outside of your primary role? Are you seeking Incident Command System quals? Are you cross training yourself for other roles you can apply for?

The military system doesn’t allow you to stay at any rank for an indefinite time. The advancement list and the promotion boards are looking at your business value for both the present and the future. You must keep increasing your value to the organization. How do you do this? Start thinking like a business. In the words of Jay-Z, “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man….”


~CG Learning The Ropes

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