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How To Become Invaluable at Your Job

Ramit Sethi

[Transcribed and adapted from the YouTube video: ‘How To Become Invaluable at Your Job with Pamela Slim and Ramit Sethi’]

Key Takeaways

  • In uncertain economic conditions, it’s crucial to think about your value in the workplace
  • Demonstrating value is more about your mindset
  • Ask for and get used to receiving feedback on your work
  • Learn to place value on yourself

Let’s face it: times are tough. Right now, there’s record unemployment, a pandemic, and murder hornets. AKA, a lot to be worried about. One thing that we often stress about, even when things are normal, is how we’re valued at our job. 

That makes sense. We’re being reviewed, critiqued, and audited constantly and then given raises based on our performance—literally putting a value on our work. And, now that there’s such volatility in the market, people are more worried than ever about getting laid off, fired, furloughed, etc. 

Now, there’s the obvious, cliched ways to become valued at work: 

  • Be the first to arrive, the last to leave
  • Dress for the job you want, not the job you have
  • Hit every deadline with exceptional work
  • Contribute to discussions and meetings with pertinent information
  • Be a team player

But let’s go a little deeper into two areas: receiving feedback and learning to value yourself. I wanted to write about a conversation I had with Pamela Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation and Body of Work, business coach, and writer. We had a wonderful, insightful conversation about how you can become invaluable at your job right now. You can do these things in the next hour and you’ll instantly exhibit more value at your job.

Bonus:If the COVID-19 pandemic has you worried about money, check out my free Coronavirus Proofing your Finances guide and protect your money during this pandemic!

Get Used to Feedback

Pamela’s first piece of advice to becoming invaluable at your job is to accept and consider the feedback you receive from supervisors or peers. 

She admitted that receiving feedback was a massive learning curve for her that’s taken a long time—she used to hate it. Pamela was in the field of training and development where everything she did always had an evaluation attached to it. And, within her personality of being kind of a perfectionist, she would get all 5 out of 5 for 40 people.

But, two people would give her 3 out of 5 stars, and she would feel crushed and devastated.

You have to realize that many people who give you feedback simply want you to be better because they care about you. In fact, I’d be skeptical of someone who doesn’t give you feedback because that might mean that they don’t take your work seriously enough. So it’s crucial to learn how to take feedback. 

However, it’s equally as important to sort through people who are being vindictive—people who like to make people squirm—versus people who actually see the potential and who you are and are willing to give you tough feedback.

Let’s put a real-world example on asking and receiving feedback. November 2011.

Pamela called me in November of 2011 and said, “Ramit, I want to have a call with you. I want specific feedback on these areas of my business.” 

She detailed out the exact parts of her business that she wanted feedback on. So, I reviewed her business and I gave her some feedback. Ultimately, I told Pamela that her prices were too low.

She was way too valuable for what she was charging and it was negatively affecting her brand. Do you know how Pamela took the feedback?

She embraced the feedback because she trusted me, and that’s why she asked specifically for my help. Learn from Pamela’s example of trusting the person to give you honest, usable feedback. Then, internalize what they’re telling you so you can make adjustments and perform better next time.

Bonus: Want to turn your dream of working from home into a reality? Download my Ultimate Guide to Working from Home to learn how to make working from home work for YOU.

Learn to Value Yourself

Let’s now talk about undervaluing ourselves. Creative people tend to undervalue their work, chronically. It’s true—I undervalued myself with my $4.95 ebook. (Nowadays, a lot of that information in the ebook can be found in our free resources.)

The sales copy is still online! It’s horrible. It’s like, “Hey guys, I know you could probably get this for free, but…” I look at it and I want to vomit. 

I asked Pamela if she could share any personal insights or insights she’d gotten from coaching people.

When Pamela was making a career transition earlier in her twenties, when she was working for companies, she remembered a piece of advice that she got from somebody that helped her to think differently about undervaluing herself. Pamela was interviewing at different places, and a woman asked Pamela, “What salary are you asking for?” 

Pamela said, “Well, I probably need something like $50,000. That’s probably pretty good.”

The woman told Pamela, “When it comes to compensation, especially if you’re a female, you must charge what the market will bear, especially in relation to your male peers.” And then, if you find yourself unable to figure out what to do with the extra money—you can give it away.

Wow… Pamela’s story hit home because we’re taught that a big salary must equal that you’re a more important or valuable person. In truth, it’s not about that. 

Valuing yourself in your job can take a lot of forms:

  • Not being afraid to voice your opinion during meetings
  • Following your gut instinct on the direction of your projects
  • Asking questions
  • Taking the initiative to learn new things that interest you or further your skillset
  • Respecting and valuing to other people’s work and input
  • Ask for what you truly deserve (whether that be more compensation, more benefits, better resources, etc.)

Valuing Feedback, Valuing Yourself

Trust me, I know that these two pieces of advice can take a while to perfect.  

It’s kind of like that thing about confidence, right? “Fake it ‘til you make it?” If you act confident, then people will think you are confident. Then, one day, you’ll simply be confident. 

If you’re the kind of person who thinks they’re invisible or dispensable, I have a challenge for you: in your next meeting, bring up ONE point. It doesn’t even need to be anything special. Just contribute one thought or idea to the next meeting. See how it feels. Then, make a habit of it and pretty soon you’ll be leading the ideas instead of reacting to them. 

Don’t take valuing feedback and yourself for granted—plenty of people go through their work day thinking that they don’t contribute anything and that their job security is hanging by a thread. Take Pamela’s advice because she’s one of the smartest people I know. I promise you that if you take these to heart, people will start to value you and the work that you do more.

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