1,000 Hours of Sweat Equity


1000 Hours of Sweat Equity

Who benefits from your sweat equity? You probably have already clocked 1,000 hours during the first 6 months of 2012.  If at this point you know that your talents are not benefiting the audience who needs them the most then it’s time for a mid-year career evaluation. This is a particularly useful exercise if you desire to switch gears in pursuit of socially conscious efforts (e.g. a role in corporate social responsibility, social investing, an NGO, etc.).

The benefits of this exercise are to a) help you envision who is being deprived of your talents, and b) give you a mental image you can use as a source of strength as you face the very real distractions of everyday life and corporate carrot sticks. Now, the exercise:

Imagine a day in the life of those who currently benefit from your talents. Then, imagine a day in the life of those who would be benefiting if you left your current job to one with socially conscious objectives. 

Consider a fictitious professional named Kevin; he is a  wealth manager with an impressive book of clients yet he has always wanted to apply his skills to helping impoverished entrepreneurs whose livelihoods are exceptionally vulnerable to natural disasters.

Let’s compare the realities of Kevin’s current clients with those of his prospective clients.

Kevin’s current client, Tom:

  • $20M+ net worth
  • two children that attend a top private school
  • lives in a condo on Sutton Place (a desirable NYC location) and is driven to work downtown
  • was financially safe even following the 2008 financial crisis i.e. his family continued to eat 3X a day and he never missed his kid’s $40K  a year tuition payments

On the other hand, if Kevin shifted his talents to the social conscious mission of helping entrepreneurs in third world countries then his end “consumer’s” day-to-day would be very different; the ramifications of Kevin’s sweat equity would also differ.

Kevin’s prospective client, Dave:

  • earns <$1,000 annually
  • has two children who must work (rather than attend school)
  • lives with 10 family members in one room and walks 5 km to sell knick knacks on a dirt road
  • was financially devastated when his town was hit by a monsoon i.e. his children had to live elsewhere during the four years it took him to rebuild his business

In Kevin’s case, his sweat equity is marginally benefiting his current clients like Tom; Tom will continue to live well even if his financial portfolio dips a bit. Whereas, if Kevin applied his talents to improving financial solutions suitable for impoverished entrepreneurs like Dave then Kevin’s impact would be significant; Dave would collapse without the financial solutions that Kevin would provide.  However, the reality is that until Kevin makes the decision to shift gears it is his prospective client (those like Dave) whose livelihood and ability to progress will continue to be compromised.

It’s your turn to consider this mid-year review.  It’s such a personal exercise with major implications but one that deserves your immediate attention as you decide how to invest your sweat equity during the next 1,000+ hours you will work in 2012.

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Melissa Llarena

Melissa helps movers and shakers up to those in the corner office rediscover what makes them unique so that they can land their dream job in a forward-thinking company where their ideas are listened to, valued, and supported.

She brings insights from having worked in 16-business units (including Human Resources) in NY, Paris, and London. Additionally, in her former corporate career, she worked on billion-dollar brands for P&G and on IBM for Ogilvy & Mather. Later, as the founder and CEO of Career Outcomes Matter, Melissa created a 3-step “sellable strengths” process which has been the centerpiece of her clients' results.

Melissa applies this method consistently to support mid-level professionals up to the c-suite to get into Fortune Global 500 organizations and agencies. She studied Psychology at NYU and earned her MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

1 Comment

  1. Krishna on July 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

    WoW !!! A brilliant piece of thought on the value of your work. The impact of one’s work and the changes that one can bring about is the real evaluation.
    Every quarter, I should evaluate the REAL value of my “sweat equity”. If that is not meeting my expectations, I am failing to meet my personal expectations. After all, I need to be honest to me before trying to be honest to the world.
    I loved the title – “Sweat Equity”and the thought-provoking way of asking to introspect by self-reviewing. Great piece, Melissa !!!

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