View profile

Weekly 3: Find Your Edge, Math Skills & Competitive Puzzles

Summary: Change one word to find your personal edge. Multiply your skills. How to solve the puzzle of

Idea Journal Weekly 3

January 21 · Issue #18 · View online
We combine 3 ideas to help you think differently and be more creative.

Summary: Change one word to find your personal edge. Multiply your skills. How to solve the puzzle of your competitive advantage. 
(~6 min read)

#1. To find your personal edge, ask: What are you competing on?
Marketing guru Seth Godin writes on his blog that it’s easy to identify what you’re competing for: a new job, a sale, or maybe a promotion.
But in a “hypercompetitive world” you also need to pay attention to what you’re competing on.
Here are some examples: 
  • If you’re competing on price, then you’ll spend most of your time counting pennies.
  • If you’re competing on smarts, then you’ll spend most of your time getting smarter.
  • If you’re competing on who you know, then you’ll spend most of your time networking. 
  • If you’re competing on being innovative, then you’ll spend your time being curious and shipping things that might not work.
Godin points out that in this kind of environment, you should be prepared to be fully dedicated to the thing you’re compete on.
Because of this, you “might as well choose something you can live with, a practice that allows you to thrive.”
#2. Learn the “multiplying skills” to increase your odds of success.
In his blog post How to Get Rich, author and entrepreneur Derek Sivers suggests that learning certain skills, can “multiply the results of your efforts and give you an edge over others in your field.” 
For example, the software engineer who is also a persuasive public speaker may have more opportunities than someone without that combination of skills.  
Here’s the list of what Sivers calls the multiplying skills:
  • Computer programming
  • Conversation
  • Design
  • Knowing a second language
  • Meditation and focus
  • Persuasion
  • Public speaking
  • Understanding psychology
  • Writing ability
#3. To stand out in the career marketplace, build your three-part competitive advantage.
In their book The Start-up of You, authors Ben Casnocha and Reid Hoffman (Cofounder of LinkedIn) write that in the career marketplace, you’re selling your brainpower, skills, and energy in the face of massive competition. 
Potential employers, investors, partners and others with power will be choosing between you and someone who looks similar, so you have to ask: How are you first, faster, better, or cheaper than all the other people in the world who want to be doing what you’re doing?
To increase your competitive advantage in this context, they suggest combining “three different, ever-changing forces” to inform your direction:
Your Assets: These are what you have right now, and there are two types:
  • Hard Assets: These are the things you’d typically list on a balance sheet, such as the cash you have in the bank, your investments, and physical possessions like your desk and laptop. “These matter because when you have an economic cushion, you can aggressively make moves that entail downside financial risk.” 
  • Soft Assets: Examples include your knowledge and expertise; your professional connections and the trust you’ve built with them; your strengths (what comes easily to you); and your reputation and personal brand. Although soft assets can be harder to tally than the cash in your bank account, once your basic economic needs are met, they are “ultimately more important.”
Your Aspirations & Values: Aspirations include your “deepest wishes, ideas, goals, and vision of the future,” while your values represent what’s important to you in life (e.g., autonomy, integrity, power, etc.). These are key factors because “when you’re doing work you care about, you’re able to work harder and better.”
Market Realities: In the end, no matter how special you think your soft assets, skills, and experiences are, they won’t give you an advantage “unless they meet the needs of a paying market.” You have to ask: How badly do people need what you’re offering, and if they do need it, how is it better than the competition?
Casnocha and Hoffman offer several questions to help you further define your competitive advantage:
  1. Go to three trusted people in your network, and ask them what they see as your greatest strengths. If they had to come to you for help or advice on some topic, what would it be?
  2. Think about how you spend your free time – do those activities and interests differ from what you say your aspirations are?
  3. What are the things people frequently compliment you on?
Quote of the Week
“… if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”
- Ken Robinson in his TED Talk Do Schools Kill Creativity?
Did you enjoy this issue?
If you don't want these updates anymore, please unsubscribe here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Powered by Revue
New York, NY