Three Jobs

There are only three jobs. In any industry, in any organization – there are only three jobs. Everyone that works has a variation on one of these three, and understanding this concept can be of incredible value to you.

Here’s what they are:

  1. Some people Bring Money In. Every business needs resources, even charities and non-profits. There is always someone whose job it is to bring that money in. Salespeople, marketers, fundraisers, and everyone like them or part of their ecosystem. They have the job of bringing money in the front door.
  2. Some people Keep Money In. Money is constantly trying to escape the organization. If too much of it does, the venture fails. And so some people have the job of preventing that escape. Lawyers do this when they prevent lawsuits. HR people do this when they prevent turnover of employees. Cybersecurity people do this when they prevent security hacks. Procurement people do this when they negotiate lower prices for raw materials. Customer service people do this when they keep clients from leaving due to bad experiences. Accountants do this… well, pretty much always. But all these people are really just using different tools to do the same job: keep money.
  3. Lastly, some people Fix Things That Break. Most businesses are doing things that are actually really simple, except fires keep starting and someone has to put them out. This one sometimes confuses people, because they think: “Wait, my job is to load blank postcards into the postcard printer so that printed ones come out the other side. I’m not fixing anything!” Oh, but you are. Imagine what would happen if you didn’t show up to work: the postcard machine wouldn’t have blank cards, so nothing would get printed, and nothing would get shipped. That’s a major problem – and you solve it. And you probably solve a thousand little problems along the way, like when the machine jams or when the shipment of blank cards is late or when they were cut incorrectly and don’t fit or whatever. But the point is that every business ever was perfect on day one, except for all the problems that keep cropping up – machines breaking, industries shifting, competitors cropping up, etc. Someone has to fix those problems.

So that’s it. If you work, then you do one of those things. Why is this incredible oversimplification both true and helpful?

Because most people are really bad at understanding, and thus even worse at talking about their own value.

Most people think of their job in its exact, literal terms. They think of their job as what they do, where they do it, what industry it’s in, what tools they use, etc. They think in such ultra-specific terms that the thing they’re currently doing starts to feel like the only thing they can do. They think, even unconsciously, that their only value is in being a very, very specific cog and that they could only change maybe one tiny aspect to do something very adjacent.

Not true! First, realize that you have one of the three jobs listed above (you actually might have more than one – if you’re a solopreneur, you have all three!). Figure out which it is. Do you bring money in, keep money in, or fix something that breaks? Okay, now how does what you do specifically help further that goal – or to put it another way, how would achieving that goal be hindered if you just stopped working? Now you have a much clearer picture of the value you add to an organization!

Understanding the value you add in broader terms helps you advocate for yourself. It helps you grow. It helps you learn and improve. In just about every way imaginable, it’s better for you to look at things this way – so take some time and think about it!

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