Yesterday, we talked about the importance of doing a lot of amazing favors, but I cautioned that nobody will owe you anything in return. This was one of the hardest things for me to learn: nobody really owes anybody anything. It doesn’t matter what you think they owe you, and it doesn’t even matter how much they actually want you. The only thing that matters is how much they need you.
Just because you have a great resume, or “paid your dues”, or you’ve been best friends with the boss since childhood, or even if they promised you a job, they don’t owe you anything. Even people who owe you money don’t really owe you that money, unless you made them sign a legally-enforceable paper contract and you kept a copy with their signature on it. Even then… not really. People who don’t really need to pay you anything aren’t ever going to pay you anything.
Even when someone truly wants to hire you, they often can’t. It’s not their money. (Even if it seems like their money, it’s not. Everybody has backers that they are responsible to, even if their name is on the door.) The only reason that anybody will ever hire you is because you have demonstrated to them that you have something they absolutely need.
No one is going to pay you any of their money. Instead, they are going to pay you a share of the money that you help them accumulate. And that’s perfectly fair. It took me a long time to figure out that this is the whole idea behind employment. The only reason to hire somebody is if they’re going to bring more money in the door each month than they take out of the door at the end of the month.
Trust me: every month that you work, keep a ledger in your head of every dollar that you bring in the door and every dollar in your paycheck. If the first number is smaller than the second, your days are numbered. If you want to stay employed, don’t just be nice, don’t just be friendly, don’t just be skillful, don’t just be useful. None of those are going to keep you employed. Be necessary.
If you are necessary, they will have to keep you on, at least for a while, even if they despise you. If you are necessary and a friendly, professional person, then you’re really set, and your whole life will become a lot happier. We’ll talk about how to do that tomorrow...