I recently started following writer, author and educator Tom Hirst on Twitter. Not soon after the tweet above came across my feed. It resonated so clearly with me because it distilled the message I was trying to get across in Forever Employable so clearly:
Build equity in yourself.
Man, I wish I’d thought of that phrase when I was writing the book. Building equity in yourself is exactly the formula I discuss in the book with the goal of, as Tom puts it, becoming a person of interest in your field. As your reputation grows you become more valuable to your peers, employers, conference organizers, publishers and anybody else who may seek out your expertise. The investment you make in building that reputation is creating equity in yourself. It’s making you more valuable. As that equity grows, the return on it grows exponentially.
I have a good friend who I’ve known for nearly 20 years now. He’s a successful entrepreneur, businessman and trusted source of advice. Over the past decade folks have offered me opportunities to make small angel investments in their startups. I always ask my friend what he thinks about these investments first. And he always says the same thing to me, “What would you do if you took that $10k and invested in yourself?”
I hate it when he does that. But he’s right. I could use that $10k to take a month off and do nothing but write and create content. I could use it to travel for 3 weeks building new experiences that can form the basis for new stories to share with my audience. All of this to build equity in myself.
You can distribute your knowledge alongside gaining it
This was the other part of Tom’s tweet that caught my attention. To build equity in yourself you might delay until you have “enough” experience to share (whatever that means). Instead of waiting for a mythical point in time where you or someone else deems you worthy to share your expertise, start now. Share what you’re working on, what you’re learning, what you’ve tried, what failed, what worked, who you worked with, why you loved/hated working with them and how you’ll use that knowledge to try something different next time.
Distribute your knowledge as you’re gaining it. That’s the trick to building equity in yourself. And by doing so you start to get a sense of what your audience cares about and how you can best help them. This in turn should help determine where you make your next investments in yourself so that equity you grow in your personal brand (yes I said that phrase) remains evergreen and relevant.
Every time you make the time to write, create, share, tweet, blog or make a video you’re building equity in yourself. You’re creating the foundation for a continuous inbound stream of opportunities. You’re creating the foundation for becoming forever employable.