You are a Business: Y.O.U. Inc.’s IPO

Years ago while getting my car tinted at a kind of shady palace, the tint dude said that I was technically a company.  His case based on the fact that I have a social security number, which is a tax id number, and that in essence I function like a company.  Technically, I am a business… me personally.  It was then that I realized that I am… YOU are… WE are businesses.  The more I thought about this, the more it became evident that this was true.  We are either good providers, or consultants.  But because we don’t know it, or recognize it, we put ourselves at a disadvantage.

Individually we are functionally sole proprietorships.  Your client or customer, could be someone you sell to directly or your boss, let’s say the shift manager at Target.  And your good could be a skill, or maybe saying “Hello! Welcome to Tarje’! ”.  If being a Target greeter is your passion, and you are great at it then kudos. But there is still opportunity in leveraging standard business practices to expand your market.  But if you HATE it, or find that it’s not your most profitable offering, then maybe you should look into something else.  Not only is this a waste of your time , but it’s also a disservice to your customer.  It would be like your Cable Company, being your local bar tender.  See how that doesn’t work?  You are the “cable” company.  You just need to find out what your “cable service” is and sell it.  And with this you are empowered to control your career, because you control your own business Y.O.U. Inc.

Even if you’re not feeling the “magic” of empowerment, the sad truth is that it doesn’t matter.  You still are your own company and are responsible for it non-the-less.  As previously stated, you are either a consultant or a manufacturer of sorts.  You either provide expertise in the development, marketing, and sales of a good or service; or you create the good or service yourself.  There is an illusion of being an employee when your client is a large enterprise.  This is in part due to old outdated cultural norms.

Once when you were a part of a company you were A PART of the company.  There was something like a relationship formed.  We have all seen documentaries where they talk about the closing of the GM plants and grown men cry.  It was THEIR business.  It was THEIR assembly line.  And in a way it really was.  There was a familial aspect to the profession, for better and for worst.  A man could be a welder, and when his son graduated high school, he could pass his actual job down to his own son.  But as the powers that be required constant growth, a symptom of the cancer that’s capitalism (another blog), the loyalty between the enterprise and the body that makes it up dissolved.  Pensions disappeared, and job security succumbed to the weight of shareholder greed, forever breaking the bond of loyalty between employee and employer.  Now jobs go to the cheaper with higher perceived value individual, period.  And this competition can come and take your place at any time and from anywhere… even China.  Congratulations!!!  You have just become an internationally competing enterprise of one.

To keep your job you have to continuously “add value”.  This is the same as creating new markets.  If you’re a welder, you need to also find a way to parley that welding experience into process improvement experience.  You have to not just be the best damned welder to have ever been on the line, but you have to be so good that you can tell other welders how to be better.  You have to be so good and business smart that you are able to create an innovative improvement, sell it to leadership, and manage it to a successful positive impact to the bottom line.  What would have once gotten you a promotion, or at least a bonus is now “what we pay you for”, this is your job.  But what is this?  Consultancy.  You are a consultant, not an employee, not a member of the enterprise, but an outsider brought in to improve the business.  But what if you don’t want to do that?  You don’t want to do the business, sell your skill, business acumen, consult… you just want to weld.  Then start a business and weld.  But you will still need a partner who is responsible for the business of selling your welding.

But without them you are responsible for your own brand, marketing and selling.  For controlling your image via social media; developing and marketing your skills, networking and resume; and selling interviewing officially and unofficially.  With the internet, resumes are almost never read in their entirety by an actual human.  Instead they are scanned by computers and searched for buzz words.  Only if your resume has the correct buzz word may it run across a humans computer.  The human is then looking for the correct context of the correct buzz word prominently displayed and clearly stated in a quantifiable way.  The development of the tool to communicate this is exclusively your responsibility.  You are your own marketing department.  Not only do you have to develop the marketing material, but you have to develop the distribution strategy.  How will you disseminate this information, a blog? Linked in?  Facebook?  Twitter?  And with this decision we address your brand.  Branding is an important part of the business of you.  One of the most important values, is perceived value.

You to have a brand, and it is one of the most important parts of you “getting a job”, selling to a customer, closing a client.  You must develop your brand and market it well.  With tools like Facebook, linked-in, and twitter one must curate ones image.  You have to be the brand of “employee” the company would hire.  You have to look like you share a lifestyle that fits your targeted company.  Do you go to the right restaurants, watch the right movies, wear the right clothes, use the right vernacular?

Are you “the right fit”?  This requirement is two-fold:

  • When your client looks you up they have to see that you fit their brand. More and more WHO you are is becoming just as important as WHAT you do.
  • You have to be in the world of your client to interface with them in the first place. If you want to sell tires to car makers, then you have to go to the car show, the body shop and the race track.  If you want to sell your skills to a specific business you have to already be in some way affiliated with the world of that business.

This cuts into your personal life.  If you grew up on “the wrong side of the tracks” you may have affiliations that are perceived negatively by your potential clients, or you may never even meet your prospective clients at all.  So you must to cross those tracks, and hide aspects of the tracks from which you came to fit in.  At the same time you have to develop a compelling “Story”.  Where you’re from, and where you intend to go.  This story must be developed and packaged in various formats.  You have to have the elevator speech; this is your cold call commercial, a digital version; Monster, Linked-in, ect.  You also have what I would call your total brand.  How do you dress, speak and carry yourself.  And this image must be consistent from the office to the weekend cook out.

You are a sole proprietorship, also known as a sole trader or simply a proprietorship.  This is a type of business entity that is owned and run by one natural person and in which there is no legal distinction between the owner and the business. The owner is in direct control of all elements and is legally accountable for the finances of such business and this may include debts, loans, loss etc.  In the company of YOU, you are the sole trader and are legally responsible for all finances and actions of your business including school, training, bills, transportation and any additional services you use to brand, market, and develop Y.O.U. Inc. Think student loans and credit cards, or cultural experiences and cars.

Functionally a company is a business entity that delivers goods or services for legal tenure.  Simplified it is an entity that is paid to do something.  What is an employee?  A person that is paid to do something.  When you’re an employee what are you?  A business, an entity paid for a task.

As in most things, there are positives and negatives to this.  The negative is that there is no job stability outside of the stability.  The lack of loyalty between employer and employee makes the transaction between the two “just business”, there is no personal aspect to it since the employee its self is just a conglomerate of small businesses, there is functionally no ‘person’ for you to deal with.  This is however a good thing as it enables one to have complete control over their career.  You should continue to look for the better opportunity.  You owe your employer the SAME level of commitment that they give you.  At will is at will for BOTH parties.  Another challenge is that you are responsible for finding your own work.  Most jobs are not posted and spamming the jobs that are posted online and hoping for a hit is like playing lottery scratch off tickets and hoping for a big win.  You must differentiate yourself, and build your business network up in such a way that you are able to procure work via direct contact to the decision makers.  The positive side of this is that you are able to do what you want.  Since you have to find your own work, you can find the work that suits you best, that is already on your side of the proverbial tracks.   The last risk is that you alone are accountable for every aspect of your professional life.  However with responsibility comes reward.  You are empowered to negotiate and demand the reward for what your worth.  This strengthens the reason for you to choose an industry for your “business” that you like.  A common question asked is “what would you do if you didn’t need the money?”  The REAL question is “what would you pay to do daily?”  Whatever THAT is… that should be Y.O.U. Inc.’s  business.

The payment unfortunately can be steep.  The first “bill” is education.  We have to develop the skill we want to sell.  Next we have to learn and understand the basics of business.  We should understand the basic business functions and their supporting processes.  We should specialize our business.  We should build relationships, develop a supporting team, and expand the services we offer.

The three basic business functions that we must master at minimum are Operations, Marketing, and Finance.  Developing an operation strategy is key to your business.  How are you going to provide what goods or services?  What are the limitations in what you CAN produce and when?  Since Y.O.U. are the business you have to examine how you work best.  This goes back to doing what you WANT to do, what is something that comes naturally to you, and then how do you do that best?  You are on your way to defining how you will operate.  Next Y.O.U. Inc. has to master financial management.  Since you are the business every expense you have is an investment.  They can be good investments or bad investments.  Every dollar you spend should generate a return.  It should somehow help you operate better.  Maybe a vacation enables you to recharge and refresh.  Maybe a car gets the attention of potential clients.  A movie gives you new innovative and creative ideas.  But money spent without purpose, is wasted.  While we covered marketing quite a bit earlier in this discussion, Y.O.U. Inc. must have a marketing strategy.  This includes how you present yourself and where you present yourself.  The circles you run in are your potential clients.  If you don’t have individuals around you that would consume your goods and services you have to consider changing something: 1 – your surroundings or 2 – your good or service.

The breakdown of employee employer relations has shifted the ownership of the business to the individual.  This has had the effect of merging ones personal life and professional life.  Making Y.O.U. a business, and therefore everything you do a business decision.  While this can appear to be a burden, it is actually liberation.  Rather than fitting your life into your work, you can fit work into your life.  All we have to do is recognize that Y.O.U. are a business.

Interesting Reads and References:


Time Value… Oh and Sorry I’m Late

Average Time Utilization Pie Chart

I turned 33 this past 7/11.  I usually try to not do much for my birthday but since that date I have been extremely busy.  Or at least it feels like it, and it feels like I have been busy doing nothing.  With my birthday recently passing, it has lead me asking myself what have I done with my time on earth?  What have I accomplished?  I’m married, no kids, I have recently changed jobs, own 2 properties and 2 time shares. Is this what I have lived for?  Is this how I have spent my time?  How have I used this life I was provided to leave a positive impact on this earth?  Have I touched the world, done meaningful work? How have I spent my 33 years on earth?  I have worked.  I have spent the majority of my life trying to just survive the proverbial “rat race”.

Why?  I’m not sure.  I would say for stuff, but I have too much stuff, and not enough time to enjoy it all.  I have spent years in environments where I was not appreciated or valued, doing a job that I was not passionate about, that stressed me out, purchasing materials that I never take the time to enjoy.  I have been miserable most of my life chasing happiness.  I have wasted time.

I do not feel like I am alone in this plight.  We give our time away chasing the dollar, money, wealth and prosperity.  While we use these terms as synonyms they are not.  One can be rich in love, rich in joy, rich in experiences and broke in pocket.  And richness isn’t wealth.  Wealth is a sustained abundance of value.  And value is subjective.

The cliché “show me what you do, and I’ll show you what you value” explains what value really is.  Value is where you spend your time.  The question is what do you value, and does it align with what you think you value?  To answer this we must look at where we spend most of our time.

So what is time?  We generally understand time to be a measure in which events can be ordered from the past through the present into the future.  But the truth behind time is not that direct. Huw Price, a Cambridge professor states that “time is just part of a four-dimensional space-time … and space-time itself is not fundamental but emerges out of some deeper structure.”

Time is the illusion created by our movement through a constant structure of space-time.  One can think of space-time like a large building with infinite rooms.  Time is the experience of us moving from one room to the other, it is a measure of change, the relative difference from one room and the next.  So to discover what we value we have to discover where we are going.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics state that in America we spend over 60% of our time simply surviving.  Looking at the chart below, we spend at least 68% of our time working and taking care of our basic needs.

Average Hrs Worked Weekdays Average Hrs Weekends and holidays Average % of Worked Weekdays Average % of Weekends and holidays
Personal care activities 9.34 10.16 39% 42%
Working and work-related activities 8.61 5.82 36% 24%
Watching television 3.3 4.06 14% 17%
Household activities 2.2 2.78 9% 12%
Total 23.45 22.82 98% 95%
Remainder 0.55 1.18 2% 5%

America ascribes to value  individuality.  Over 2/3 of Americans  are motivated primarily by self-interest.  This motivation sits on the back of an Americans core values of independence and freedom.  Millennials have an evolved these values.  While still valuing individuality and freedom these value have become more socially conscious.  Rather than doing all one can for ones individual self, gen-Y has chosen to value the individuality of others.  Millennials focus on going past self-interest, workers’ rights, environmental protection, tolerance and diversity. 

However there is a divide between these expressed values and the values played out in the professional workplace.  The work world must evaluate if are we adjusting to the new values.  Does corporate America support the values of the individual people living in the world?  And why or why not?

Looking at the data provided, work life balance is not a value of the green mean money churning machine.  79% of Americans believe that the generals of this army do not share the values of the rest of America.  With work hours increasing, wages stagnating and purchasing power degrading along with the quality of life and the nations overall productivity; as a collective, we must ask, to what destination are we being led and why?  And are we moving as individuals, or in mass?

“Show me where you spend your time, and Ill show you what you value.”  It would seem that we are going 6 ft under, to the basement or the cellar.  Like tools or old auto parts; Christmas lights and out dated toys.  We are going to a place of bulk resources storage.  Where we are queued for consumed or forgotten.  America values the objectification of the individual.  And the individual values being objectified.

Studies and surveys showing that we as individual human resources are unhappy with this arrangement.  Corporate values do not align with the values that America believes it has.  There is not freedom, we are mandated to spend at least 8 hrs a day at the service of others to survive.  We don’t even have adequate sick and vacation days.  Our individual ideas and opinions can be data mined from Facebook, Twitter and other social media, and held against us, barring us from employment.  Functionally decimating the idea of free speech.  We even sacrifice our individual goals for the goals and the vision of the enterprise.  This is being a good “team player”.

Ask yourself the following questions:
Am I truly happy? Cliché as this is, this is a real question.  Are you happy and fulfilled with every aspect of your life… if not, then there is an opportunity for improvement that you should capitalize on.

Is how I spend my time its own reward? The path you take through this building of the universe is yours to chart. It’s YOUR adventure and should be YOUR reward.

What do I value? List the top 5 things you value in life

How do you spend your time in a given day? List how you spend your time in order of hrs spent in a day.  If the top 5 things do not align to your top 5 values, then adjust accordingly.

I have worked for large corporate enterprises for over 10 years.  It is was what I thought I needed to do.  I discovered that I hated it.  Not working for a large enterprise in of its self, but learning what these organizations stand for, how they work, and what they do.  I further was disenfranchised with how they operate.  It caused me to think critically about the processes and cultures of these organizations I worked for.  Who got promoted and why?  What is really meant by “Human Resources”?  I often struggled with the misalignment not just with the external brand identity of corporations and actual operations, but also with the internally communicated value systems verse actual practice.  I became cynical and disgusted with corporate propaganda and false promises.  The unabashed and unapologetic inequity.  While I didn’t start this way, this feeling grew in me over time.  I spent 3 years observing and learning the system, 3 years trying to fit into the system, and over 3 years opposed to the system entirely.  But I always gave my 40+ hrs.  I never took vacation, I even worked once with pneumonia.  I spent my time, most of my time, all 33 of my years traversing rooms I hated.  I must have valued this.  I must have valued the misery, pain, stress, and inequity.  I valued not being valued.  I valued abuse and lies.  I valued it because it because that is where I spent my time.

I was have recently however been reminded that these were never my core values and that at some point in time I had lost my way.  I never wanted to work for someone else.  I never wanted to be in the system.  I wanted to change the system.  I wanted to make the world a better place.  And while I thought that my experience in the system is what I needed, and maybe it was.  After a number of years I don’t.   I didn’t see how developing custom batch data load programs for a large aeronautical engineering company served the world at large, or supported my desired ideals and values.  I want to create real value for real people.  I want to help those in need.  I want to show the world a better way to live, and maybe provide more than one.

So I left and am now making my life fit my individual priorities and values.  This does not mean that there wont be temporary sacrifices.  But working through something is different than working in something.  If I cannot align my actions to my values, then I do not need to be doing them.  If I cant wake up, pray, eat healthy, laugh and help people, then its not for me.  If I do not see how what I am doing is not moving towards positive world impact, then I need not be doing it.  There are always many doors in each room of our personal journey, and we must choose those that take us where we want to go.  We must align our time to our own values, as time is valuable.  A phrase that is used to exemplify one of the key ideals and values of American society is “time is money”.   This is actually not true.  Time is much more valuable, because you can never get it back.  Money on the other hand…. Well that’s for a different post.

References and more interesting reading:

Who, What, When, Where and Why…. oh and Hello

Like so many of us, when I was born I was unplanned and unwanted.  I am a product of female defiance, in that I was not aborted.  Ekundayo, sorrow becomes joy was my birth name, and it is fitting.  Ever more defiant, my mother named me Omoleye: the child that’s a source of prestige.  Both names and the change of them, established the foundation of my life.

As a little boy I was a Discovery Channel child.  Not this new Pawn Shop, Shark Week Discovery that is out now a days.  But the REAL, explanations about the physics and chemical make-up of a single volcano for 2 hrs, Discovery.  In short I was always a nerd.  Thus after seeing Angela Jolie in Hackers, it was decided that I was going to be a computer programmer.  A life of techo raves, drugs, hot women, and computers awaited me.  After teaching myself DOS-Basic at the age of 7, 3 years of AP C++ at a science and tech high school, 4 years of information systems at the University of Maryland and 10 years of consulting with 2 large consulting firms working in both the public and private sectors, the only acid-burn I have found requires Rolaids and Tums.  But I have found ample opportunity for improvement within Information Technology, and the corporate world at large.

Recently a one of my clients said “You need to be a professor, or a thought leader!”  It was this client in particular who opened my eyes to the fact that there may be an audience interested in my ideas.  So I decided to add my voice to the choir of voices in the blogosphere, and the fact that you are reading this implies that it is at least being heard by one.

While there is value in specialization, our modern need for it has oversimplified critical analysis and stifled opportunities for discovery.  My AP Comp Sci teacher Mrs. Charles used to tell me, “you do not live on an island”.  And this is so of all concepts.  There is an interplay between science, religion, psychology and business.  While the core focus of this blog will be on the corporate world, specifically from an IT perspective, I intend on deeply exploring the effects of life over-all, as it applies to us at work and how we at work effect it.

In college I would often be invited to speak at dinner parties.  I had one friend in particularly who would invite me to parties, and once enough people had arrived, and he and “serendipitously” gathered the majority of us in a single room.  He would interrupt whatever conversation I was having with whatever beautiful person I was speaking with and ask so that everyone could hear, “Mr. eL!… what are your thoughts on a woman’s place in the household!?”  Clearly this was a provocative conversation, and despite how I protested or tried deflect this predictable pattern, I would eventually find myself standing in the front of a room, surrounded by people explaining and debating whatever concept/issue of the day that had been brought to the floor.  It is in this spirit I would like to execute this blog.  I would like to think of this as more of a conversation, and interaction is important.  I welcome your feedback and will make a vigorous effort to address subjects that you bring to the floor and keep you engaged.  In the absents of this, there is much activity on the interwebs and I will leverage my life experiences, articles and current events to populate the web with my thoughts weekly.  There will be no particular drop date to support varying life events and such, however at some point in a given 7 day week, I plan on releasing something, even if small.

While this will be blogging here, I have other more creative expressions elsewhere on the net.  Specifically I have a running fictional story @LuckyLeye on Twitter.   I also release a photo daily on Instagram @Nemos_eye.

I’d like to think that this blog does not just serve as a location for me to express, refine and challenge my ideas, but that these ideas transform the world.  Not just from an individual perspective, but in in the worlds core philosophies; seeding the ideas from which a better world can bloom tomorrow.