Faith or Folly? Investing In The Unseen…Your Potential - Blog

Religion seems to have found even the most ardent atheists among us. The forsaken lumber, some occupy Wall Street, irritated by great expectations lost. A terse combination of fear, frustration and forced austerity has left many feeling hapless.

All investments contain intrinsic risk and the potential for increased value; your education & training is no different. To a certain extent, these investments in your human capital require faith. Blind faith, however, has left many of us with our guard down feeling like an unsuspecting boxer on the receiving end of a Floyd Mayweather blow. A succession of recent articles such as “Is the MBA Worth It?” “College Educated Can’t Find Jobs” “US Workers Need to Re-train” has done little to instill confidence. Not quite future “masters-of-the-universe” statements such as “Well, at least I have a job” have become commonplace. Implicitly, these professionals’ investment model place a premium value on security. The caution is warranted. The wrong decision for you could be absolute folly or worse.

This note arms you with the necessary tools to evaluate investments in your human capital (e.g. an MBA degree, e-Courses, conferences, career switches training etc). With governments worldwide retreating from subsidized tuition promises, corporate “parents” being more judicious with training their workers and biological parents under financial pressure, your human capital investment decision is increasingly up to…well…you. Techniques include: 1) reviewing your personal archives (data, patterns, connections); 2) measuring your current conditions (metrics); and 3) assessing growth markets (signals, trends). Our hope is that, when you deem appropriate, you will be prepared to act. Even in the midst of uncertainty.

ARCHIVES – LINKING YOUR PAST, IDENTIFYING YOUR FUTURE OPTIONS

Sometimes we discount our wisdom within. Know thyself. Lord knows Google and Facebook are trying to! Knowing your temperament for risk, your willingness-to-pay or sacrifice and your tolerance for hard work are all critical to self-awareness and realizing what “asset class” is best suited for your human capital investment. Unlocking your personal history will reveal a treasure trove of data, patterns and connections. These simple questions will aid your research before making any education investment:

1. Historical Comparable Investments: When have you succeeded? What were the circumstances? Were the wait, effort and the costs worth it? In retrospect, what else could you have done with that time and money? Did your choice of a specialist, generalist or integrated provider or package make a difference? Would the outcome have changed in your opinion if you had used a premium provider? And when you failed? Use a similar introspective question set for both success and failure. Your decision making process is more important than the particular outcome. Refining this process will prepare you to identify your future options.


CONTEXT – EVALUATING CIRCUMSTANCES, VIEWING YOUR DASHBOARD

 
Right here, right now. Your present is pivotal. Injecting a sense of urgency and regaining control of your development are critical. Not only do “moth and rust destroy”, but so too does indecision decay your career narrative. Dashboard metrics are an integral part of managers’ toolkits, helping them to grapple with overwhelming data. Your best enterprise is you. Take a moment. Know your current key metrics in the context of your life – view your own dashboard. The decision to pursue an MBA is instructive as it is the same analysis used for other investments such as enlisting an executive coach, e-learning certificate etc. A top MBA is generally an investment of $150,000+ and these questions will aid in evaluating your present capacity for this investment:

2. Investment Snapshot & Capital Requirement: What is the strength of my social network – mentors, trusted advisors, e-learning team? Or as author Keith Ferrazzi eloquently puts it in the title of his best-selling book “Who Has Your Back?” What are your resources on hand? Using the classic return on investment (ROI) metric, including non-cash benefits and costs, is the MBA worth it? In evaluating your goals along 3 month and 3+ year time frames, is the time commitment tolerable? What is the relative value – prestige, alumni, starting salaries of post-MBAs etc. – of each MBA program? Which type of prep work should you engage in pre-MBA or pre-e-Course? As with most investment strategies and analysis, your resources – those currently controlled and those accessible (The Bank of Mom & Dad?) – will shape your strategy and impact your investment decision.


GROWTH – ALIGNING YOUR TALENT, SHAPING THE MEGA-TRENDS


School is not enough. Academies are necessary. Greek philosopher Plato founded the Academy for life long, peer-to-peer learning, recognizing that the investment in human capital was constant. The traditional version of a linear based school system can at times rob us of our creativity. In the worst case, it replaces our passion with bloated expectations. Re-focusing your many interests and talents to growth areas that you are passionate about is a step to regaining control over your development. Mega-trends of note include the business of health care a more than $3 trillion market in the U.S. ; wealth of women is projected to have an incremental increase of up to $5 trillion in global earnings over the next decade; or international trade, in particular the business of commodity trading and production. Alignment of your talent will assist you shape these mega-waves and secure a rewarding, meaningful career. Questions that will help you focus on the industries of tomorrow include:

3. Seizing Your Renaissance: What is your brand? From your perspective, your friends and the view of a few strangers? What are your demonstrated talents? How would you categorize your skill set: Major League, Champions League or Junior League? How much capital (time, money, social capital) are you willing to dedicate to improve your skills? Are you really passionate about any particular mega-trend? Can your non-traditional business passion be channeled to a segment of a mega-trend? For example, a passion for socially conscious projects could be transferred to the growing and rewarding field of impact investing (i.e. alternative investments). What investments in your human capital are needed to bridge the gap between your current position and where you want to be?


FINAL THOUGHTS

Crimson Oak firmly believes that there are multiple paths to success. The detractors, the nagging voice of self-doubt and well-meaning, pacifying friends all require faith to overcome their influence. Believing in the unseen – especially your potential – requires faith. The only folly is in being reflexive – the lemming approach – and not thoroughly evaluating the important decision of investing in your human capital. “Is it truly worth it?” That is a question only you can answer. Building an Academy dedicated solely to your success? You know our answer – you are absolutely worth it! Grow & Lead.