Are you a commodity?

Being a commodity is safe, or so it seems at first. You have your MBA or your high school diploma and you go out and get a job that pays you appropriately.

You shovel fries or you write reports and you keep your head down and keep your thoughts to yourself and all goes well. The only downside is that you are not in control of your life and you never will be.

You do have a title, of course, but you are essentially a hired pair of hands with a speaking part that is narrowly defined.

Try making up your own lines and you will find yourself elsewhere. Try changing your daily routines and you will find yourself on the street.

Being a commodity is great if you are a scarce commodity and dismal if you are no longer in demand. Large companies are good at hiring commodities because they can easily use a checklist to see if you are qualified. There is no judgment call required to hire you.

If you want to survive in today’s working world or if you are working for yourself, you need to understand what is unique about your abilities and promote that to potential customers, clients and employers. That way, you stay in control of your career. If you offer a unique benefit or service, that lessens the possibility of your client or employer of finding an alternative solution elsewhere.

So, what is the alternative? You can take responsibility for your life and your future and create your own individual microbrand, or as Hugh MacLeod calls it, a global microbrand.

Hugh MacLeod is a well-known example of a marketing guy who who has been making up his own rules and is creating quite a stir in the world. Have you heard about The Blue Monster, about Stormhoek wines? Hugh created both of those campaigns using his weblog as a point of departure.

If you are really tired of being a commodity, you might want to read my earlier post: To Be or Not Be a Commodity – that is your choice

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