Adding value to yourself

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There’s a rallying cry that the left like to use about how WalMart doesn’t pay it’s employees enough to live on , and thus the welfare expenses created by these employees are directly attributable to WalMart. Evil corportaion, 1%, blah, blah, blah.

Never mind that, because of minimum wage laws, the same could be said of EVERY business that pays a similar rate as WallyWorld. So, I said to the person who was carrying on about this, that those welfare costs would be even higher if WalMart didn’t give them a job at all, and that if you don’t like what Walmart pays you perhaps you should make yourself into the kind of employee who is worth more than what WalMart pays.

You can imagine the response to that.

But, it’s true. Case in point – I’m doing an internship program at a corporate HQ here in town.One of my duties is to reconcile a list of customer deposits against payments received that month. Normally, this process takes about 12 hours of cutting/pasting/comparing against two separate spreadsheets. After doing this a few times, I said to the boss “Would you mind if I tinkered with these spreadsheets? I think I can come up with a way to make this work faster.” *** They said go ahead, just experiment on copies of the files rather than the originals. As they were saying that I was bouncing the idea around in my head coming up with a solution and by the time they said “And we’ll pay you for your time” I’d already finished the formulas in my head.

After a half hour of tinkering, I had a workable solution. After a couple hours at my computer that night before bed, I had a more refined and elegant solution. I turned a 12 hour job into one hour. When I demonstrated it the next day to the guy above me, you’d have thought I’d discovered plutonium. But, it makes sense…I just gave them 11 man-hours to put towards other projects and duties.  Thats an example of how you create a value that other people are willing to pay for. If they have to cut the payroll down, who is more likely to get the pink slip…the guy who comes in, does his work, and leaves at 5:00:01, or the guy who comes in ten minutes early, stays until the job is done, and actively contributes to improve the processes and efficiency of the business?

There are far too many people out there who don’t realize that every human being is not worth the same as another. Sure, it’s a lovely egalitarian thought but the guy who sweeps the floors in the warehouse is not as equally valuable as the person running the product management system in the office. Sad, but true. Some fellow traveler comment about how the CEO makes 75 times what the lowest paid employee makes. There is nothing wrong with that….that’s how it should be. You know why the CEO gets paid 75 times more? Because I can walk out the door and find someone qualified to sweep the floors and scrub the toilets in about four minutes, but I can’t walk out and find someone qualified to manage and run a billion-dollar-a-year company in four minutes. Ben and Jerrys, the ice cream socialists from Vermont, made a big fuss years back about how the highest paid person in their company would not earn more than five times what the lowest paid person made. Try to imagine the results of trying to find someone who has the talent to run a multi-million dollar company for less than $150,000 per year. B&J quietly abandoned the policy when no one would come work for their corporate positions.

Sure, the economy may be doing somewhat better these days but being prepared for economic uncertainty includes making myself into the sort of person who, when the ax starts falling, is put at the back of the line.


*** For those who are curious, I simply cut/paste all the payment, invoice, balance, date data (four columns) into a table, and then VLOOKUPped against the data in my other spreadsheet and wherever a payment was found, I had the invoice, date, payment, and amount values moved into their respective places through a series of IF and VLOOKUP formulas. Yeah, it was formula soup but it works. (And, yeah, macros would have helped bu we’re not allowed to use macros on the corporate machines.)