In a free market, people exchange things of value. A person that has $1 and is thirsty meets a person with extra water that wants $1. Each of these people wants what they other one has, and they agree to make the exchange. Both walk away feeling that they are better off. This is how a free market works.This also holds true with the production of labor, both skilled and low-skilled. Those that have very little productive “value” to exchange with employers or clients for money wind up not getting paid much. I suggest that being low-skilled should be a temporary time in one’s life and that we are wise to look at ourselves as an investment, much like a machine.
The great news is that we can all change ourselves each minute of the day to become a better ‘machine’ and thereby of more value to others. This, in turn, means they are willing to exchange more of their money for more of our productive efforts. Being paid a low wage should be a very temporary thing and I suggest that you should quickly increase your skills and value with OJT. (On the Job Training) Tom Wood’s humorous “Minimum Wage Argument Translation.”
Most of us have the ability to grow and learn, and traditional schooling is rarely the best method. One of the coaches that works with us is a very “handy” guy. Andy has the following general skills, some perhaps not at an “expert” level, and others to a pretty darn capable degree… without any “degrees.”
- Retail sales
- Inventory management
- Automotive & small engine repair
- Blade sharpening
- Promatic machine repair & maintenance
- Cutting down trees, cutting and splitting firewood
- Dog training
- Painting & Cerakoting
- Cartridge reloading
Because Andy has an inquisitive mind and a mechanical aptitude, when he observes a challenge, he jumps in and learns what is necessary to succeed. A gun we wanted to purchase for the business was a fully automatic MP-5 machine gun. The price is approximately $32,000 for this gun, which was more than we could invest. “No problem, let’s get a manufacturing license.” said Andy, “I will see if I can make one.”
Andy had never built a machine gun, however just a couple years later, by reading manuals, watching YouTube videos, talking to machinists and learning in other ways, Andy has now built not only the MP5, but several other machine guns including a Tommy Gun and an AK-47. Andy studied on the job and invested many hours of his own time to learn a new skill. Andy will never have a problem finding someone to exchange their money for what he produces. Do you think maybe Andy’s skills are of great value to us?
YouTube is a wonderful resource for our generation! Almost everything is available on YouTube and other video sites, from learning how to write a blog to welding, building a machine gun, suturing a gash on your arm, fixing a vacuum cleaner and just about everything else. Access? If you don’t have a computer or smart phone, you can use a government library or if your morals don’t allow you to accept this “stolen loot” I would suggest that many entrepreneurs in your area would allow you to use theirs!
Another person on our team just sent an email to me. This email prompted me to write this long-overdue article. Ashleigh got a piece of paper from government-approved college, but we don’t care, and it has nothing to do with what she produces for us. Ashleigh is our lead Guest Care Guru. Her primary job is to speak with potential clients and booking agents and to prepare perfect shooting experience events for them. By working with us, she has learned several employee-scheduling software systems, more about serving high net worth clients, about advertising, marketing, time & task management, relationship building, and more.
This spring, we purchased SalesForce and had it customized for our business. This was a very frustrating and complicated process that our CEO/CFO Lynn Sherwood went through. Ashleigh came on board again this summer and studied how Salesforce works, delving far beyond what was necessary for day-to-day operations, as set up. She has learned about additional features that she can now teach to other Guest Care Gurus and to Lynn. Do you think maybe Ashleigh skills are of great value to us?
During the slower times of our seasonal business, Ashleigh has taken on other projects, including publishing a booklet cataloging about 100 guns, with descriptions and pictures for each. She now has a working knowledge of MS Publisher and, through trial and error, has learned how to publish!
What about the recent email I spoke of? Ashleigh is helping with our firm’s social media, and as such has had to self-teach herself new skills. Recently, she did the research and found a free photo editing program that she was comfortable with for basic editing. Her recent email was “showing off” her latest photo touch-up & watermarking with our logo.
Ashleigh “took it upon herself” to select this photo and make it “social media ready.” We paid her while she learned this new skill, and now we value her productive capabilities even more!
Take a look at your own life and consider Andy & Ashleigh. Are YOU spending your own time and money to improve yourself? Are you spending your time “on the clock” to produce extra value for your team while also improving your value? Are you investing unpaid time as well? Are you making yourself a more competent person?
I suggest that you look for problems around your workplace in areas for which are outside of your “job description”. Figure out how to solve them while learning new skills in the process. I know of a cleaning lady at a hotel that was frustrated that all 5 of the vacuum cleaners were frequently out of service, and that the maintenance staff was not repairing them in a timely manner. Imagine if she spent her breaks watching YouTube videos on vacuum cleaner repair. What if she downloaded the free online owner’s manuals and really studied them to learn all about them? If she invested even 20 minutes each day in learning, and 30 minutes each week working on the vacuum cleaners, within 90 days she would likely be better at vacuum cleaner repair than the maintenance crew.
What if she also fixed her uncle’s vacuum cleaner, then spoke to a different local hotel and offered to fix theirs at no cost? How much more valuable would this make her to current employers? How much better would it make her as a human being?
Imagine the new opportunities, now she no longer has only the option of the minimum wage maid marketplace, now she could perhaps get a job at a vacuum repair shop, a handyman service, or start her own mobile vacuum cleaner repair service! If she continues her studies and this “habit” of being curious, learning and going above & beyond, do you think maybe her skills are of great value to the world? She should not expect her current employer to pay for her to better herself.
What problems exist in YOUR workplace? What opportunities do they present for you? You do not need a college degree to be of value to others. Be systematic and disciplined while creating your own awesome machine, YOU!