#SWAAYthenarrative

How To Unlock Your Personal Value Proposition

3 min read
Business

As a seasoned business strategist, I've made a career out of creating growth strategies that revolve around the business's value propositions. Now, I've come to adopt that strategic mindset when it comes to career advancement as well. How have I done that? Simply put: I remove the personal and strategize myself as I would a brand. I document short-term goals that balance my skills and my values. I hold myself accountable for growth in designated areas of my position outside of company-specific performance metrics. And I maintain a level of self-awareness and acceptance by analyzing my professional self as I would a potential target market. All of that professional strategic planning is used to create a roadmap to growth and, from there, advocate in a way that provides gains: financially, promotionally, and personally.

I challenge you to approach career advancement with a new mindset. Look at yourself as a brand and ask yourself: what is my value proposition?

Career advancement relies heavily on self-advocacy — and for me, having a firm grip on my professional value proposition is the key to successful self-advocacy. If you've written a business strategy or ever reviewed one, you already know that knowing your value proposition and how to position it is non-negotiable! That same goes for your career advancement strategy.

I challenge you to approach career advancement with a new mindset. Look at yourself as a brand and ask yourself: what is my value proposition?

First, what does "your professional value proposition" mean? Much like its strategic definition: an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers. A professional value proposition is a cohesive collection of attributes you possess that make you unique to your profession and your position.

What should your value proposition entail?

Here are five elements to a successful value proposition:

Skill-set Specific

Because this is a professional value proposition, you guessed it! There has to be a skills-focus that is specific to your position. When we analyze our value proposition, it's important not to think too granular because it can limit our growth potential. Your skill-specific element of your value proposition should provide overall value while having easily identifiable attributes relating to your position.

Succinct

Nobody has time to listen to a 20-minute explanation as to why you're an important element of this project. It needs to be readily accessible and on the tip of your tongue. It also needs to be memorable. When trying to wrap your value proposition up in a succinct bow, think of this two ways. One: you should be able to articulate it quickly, elevator pitch style. And two: your actions should swiftly be able to showcase your value proposition. That way, your strategy is cohesive and recognizable from the outside in!

Transferable

You must be able to pass this knowledge on, or at least be willing and able to! Knowledge is power. If this value will forever be in the vault of Jennifer, no one will give a damn. But if you can articulate how your value proposition can be transferred in a ripple effect to other employees and make a lasting positive impact, you're golden!

Enjoyable

Yes, you read that right! You would be surprised at how many professionals talk to me about their value proposition with a lack of passion. Your value proposition should be something you are passionate about! This is your strategy, this is your career, you are in charge. Your value proposition shouldn't just be something you're good at, it should be something you care about. Remember: strategies are meant to leverage and multiply, so if what you have to offer isn't something you're all in on, we need to reevaluate.

Measurable (Hint: This is the most important aspect!)

Your value proposition must have measurable and tangible results. First, you want to be able to articulate how this can have an impact. Numbers speak the loudest, I can promise you that! In any business strategy that I've written and analyzed, I want the data. Also, going back to the original point, a strategy for career advancement built on a value proposition requires accountability for growth. Your value proposition must grow! You need to be able to gauge your impacts but also hold yourself accountable for growing your value proposition over time.

This is your strategy, this is your career, you are in charge. Your value proposition shouldn't just be something you're good at, it should be something you care about.

I challenge you to approach career advancement with a new mindset. Look at yourself as a brand and ask yourself: what is my value proposition? How does that directly impact my skill set? Can I articulate this in a brief but powerful way through my words and my actions? Is this something that can make a positive impact through the ripple effect? Do my value proposition and my passions align? And last, how is this measured? A strong value proposition, one that ignites your passions can position you for career advancement in a way that puts you in the driver's seat.

How to Learn Much More From the Books You Read

It is one thing to read and another thing to understand what you are reading. Not only do you want to understand, but also remember what you've read. Otherwise, we can safely say that if we're not gaining anything from what we read, then it's a big waste of time.

Whatever you read, there are ways to do so in a more effective manner to help you understand better. Whether you are reading by choice, for an upcoming test, or work-related material, here are a few ways to help you improve your reading skills and retain that information.

Read with a Purpose

Never has there been a shortage of great books. So, someone recommended a great cookbook for you. You start going through it, but your mind is wandering. This doesn't mean the cookbook was an awful recommendation, but it does mean it doesn't suit nor fulfill your current needs or curiosity.

Maybe your purpose is more about launching a business. Maybe you're a busy mom and can't keep office hours, but there's something you can do from home to help bring in more money, so you want information about that. At that point, you won't benefit from a cookbook, but you could gain a lot of insight and find details here on how-to books about working from home. During this unprecedented year, millions have had to make the transition to work from home, and millions more are deciding to do that. Either way, it's not a transition that comes automatically or easily, but reading about it will inform you about what working from home entails.

Pre-Read

When you pre-read it primes your brain when it's time to go over the full text. We pre-read by going over the subheadings, for instance, the table of contents, and skimming through some pages. This is especially useful when you have formal types of academic books. Pre-reading is a sort of warm-up exercise for your brain. It prepares your brain for the rest of the information that will come about and allows your brain to be better able to pick the most essential pieces of information you need from your chosen text.

Highlight

Highlighting essential sentences or paragraphs is extremely helpful for retaining information. The problem, however, with highlighting is that we wind up highlighting way too much. This happens because we tend to highlight before we begin to understand. Before your pages become a neon of colored highlights, make sure that you only highlight what is essential to improve your understanding and not highlight the whole page.

Speed Read

You might think there have been no new ways to read, but even the ancient skill of reading comes up with innovative ways; enter speed reading. The standard slow process shouldn't affect your understanding, but it does kill your enthusiasm. The average adult goes through around 200 to 250 words per minute. A college student can read around 450 words, while a professor averages about 650 words per minute, to mention a few examples. The average speed reader can manage 1,500 words; quite a difference! Of course, the argument arises between quality and quantity. For avid readers, they want both quantity and quality, which leads us to the next point.

Quality Reading

Life is too short to expect to gain knowledge from just one type of genre. Some basic outcomes of reading are to expand your mind, perceive situations and events differently, expose yourself to other viewpoints, and more. If you only stick to one author and one type of material, you are missing out on a great opportunity to learn new things.

Having said that, if there's a book you are simply not enjoying, remember that life is also too short to continue reading it. Simply, close it, put it away and maybe give it another go later on, or give it away. There is no shame or guilt in not liking a book; even if it's from a favorite author. It's pretty much clear that you won't gain anything from a book that you don't even enjoy, let alone expect to learn something from it.

Summarize

If you're able to summarize what you have read, then you have understood. When you summarize, you are bringing up all the major points that enhance your understanding. You can easily do so chapter by chapter.

Take a good look at your life and what's going on in it. Accordingly, you'll choose the material that is much more suitable for your situation and circumstances. When you read a piece of information that you find beneficial, look for a way to apply it to your life. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge isn't all that beneficial. But the application of knowledge from a helpful book is what will help you and make your life more interesting and more meaningful.