In the global markets, commodities are bought and sold based on price and availability. People will pay more for higher quality in some situations, but not all.
As we know, commodity prices are always at the mercy of the market. It’s all about supply and demand, this is not new nor do I believe it will change either.
With the rapid acceleration of technology and automation, knowledge workers are a commodity. Keep in mind, automation completely changed factories, and now automation is disrupting higher levels of employment.
For the past five and half years, I have been studying, thinking, writing, and speaking about how technology will transform our economy and society.
Every day, I think about Einstein’s quote “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
His quote guides my thinking because I know we’ll never find a solution if we use the same thought process we used thirty years ago.
Employment advice is the same story. The best way to differentiate your brand at work is to add more value, gain more skills, gain more experience, and take a class. Why do we continue to offer the same advice, while the world is changing?
How much more value can you add to a commodity to make it not a commodity? Think about — that’s what we are saying? Aren’t we? How many tiny features can we add to a roll of toilet paper?
We all know there is not much that separates the commodities we buy every day. Think about how you purchase toilet paper, soap, gas for your car. What makes you purchase one product over the competitor? Is the toilet paper soft, does the soap smell nice, which product is cheapest?
We think about two things when purchasing a commodity. Which products I like best and which can I afford. Not much else. When we’re in a hurry our goal is to grab something from the shelf or click the icon for Amazon Prime Grocery Box.
Side note — Amazon changed how we think about shopping, this, in turn, will change how we think about hiring people. It will; we just don’t know how.
Books and seminars tell us to gain more skills, add more features to our personal brand to make us more attractive on the digital employment shelf.
I don’t want to be soap anymore, and I don’t think you do either.
So, how do we stop being a commodity? I believe when we continue to place ourselves in the market as a commodity, then our value will always be priced on what the market determines.
While writing this morning, I came across Alex Deckard’s post. From the content, it appears he wrote it several years ago. He succinctly describes the difference between being a commodity worker and being above or as he puts it the 1%.
I like how he framed the question. The only way we move off the shelf is to disrupt our thinking process. I wrote on Tuesday, back a hundred years ago, no one could conceive the new industries between 1880s — 1920s. They were still thinking about how to add more features to a horse buggy.
Read Alex’s post and think how to disrupt your worldview of employment, and toss into the process an entrepreneurial creative perspective. Instead of seeing what is — ask how employment will be profoundly different.
Ask yourself how do I move off the shelf and not be a commodity. Challenge every assumption about your employment, income, skills, features, and experience. Then take a break and give your subconscious time to work on the problem.
Let me know what you discover.