don't be a commodity

People complain about blue collar workers being out of work (they are), or finding a way to bring manufacturing back (you can’t), or some other way to revitalize our 20th century view of the middle-class.

Sorry, it's gone.  It's not coming back.

In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is failing.  In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible. – Seth Godin (Purple Cow)

Why would I hire someone for $10.00 an hour when I can outsource for $1.50 (and still receive comparable quality work)?  When the only task I need accomplished is menial and brainless – a commodity – why would I pay a premium?

On the other hand, if that employee can move on his own, develop and execute his own plans, instigate and start projects, create and ship his own work - why wouldn't I pay a premium. Why wouldn't I pay top dollar for someone with the brains and courage to expand the brand, product or service on his own, with minimal guidance from upper management?

In the 20th century, the majority of workers made a compromise; they accepted minimal wages in exchange for brainless, consistent work.   The offer was compelling – show up to a certain location, at a certain time, for a certain duration, day after day, and in exchange you don't have to think to earn a wage (and you might even get healthcare and a 401k).

The industrial age created a robot factory of average employees.  The factory setting (and factory mentality) worked during the industrial age.  It won’t work now.

Once again, those jobs aren't coming back (no amount of federal quantitative easing could fix that - and that only sets us up for some painful inflation down the road).

If all you offer is the commodity of your time, guess what?  So do millions of people around the world.

There is no reason (for an employer OR the customer) to pay a premium for a commodity.

So what now?

Stand out, be disruptive, be someone who can connect the dots on their own and can start without guidance.  The only way to thrive in the new economy is to be an instigator.

Here's the catch: We can't tell you how.  If we could, we wouldn't need you.

p.s. if you like this article, you'll love my book: The Art of Instigating.

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2 comments on “don't be a commodity”

  1. Robot Factory! It's so true! I worked at a factory during my summer break from college performing mindless tasks. Now that I'm back at college for my fall semester the robot factory mentality is still present. Only now, professors are encouraging us students to develop the skills necessary so we can enter the work force (robot factory) with "better jobs": as robot management for robots.

    1. Seph, I totally agree. Almost all higher education (all conventional education period) focuses on cog development…i.e. where can you fit into the system (robot factory) best with as little disruption as possible. For where you’re at now, I’ll say this: take notes on the robots and robot management, and figure out out how you can avoid that road (as fast as possible). Keep me posted on how it’s going!

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