“Value”​ is No Longer Valuable

It all started with good intentions

“Be authentic”

“Add value”

“Show empathy”

Those are the three most given recommendations to marketers and salespeople–and everyone in general–since the pandemic started. Unfortunately, social media seems to turn everything into a fad, and we have collectively turned well-meaning advice into pandemic pandering and platitudes. And none of these has suffered a worse fate than “adding value.”

I don’t think this was done on purpose, or with ill intent. Most people really do want to add value, and initially, the majority of them did just that.

People gave away free advice, free courses, free resume help, free strategy sessions, free anything that could help those in need–aka add value. But then, everyone jumped on the “value adding” bandwagon.

The value add statements stopped being concrete, and instead became very generalized. More recently, “adding value” has become a success metric. I have seen and heard countless people claim that for them success, is simply to add value to others. On the surface, this is great! But unless “value” is defined, quantified, and followed up with action, it’s simply pandering.

I am sure many if not all of these people really do want to add value to others. However, they either don’t know how, or they aren’t willing to admit that another success metric actually trumps “adding value” because they are afraid to seem selfish at a time like right now.

It’s OK to be selfish

Yes, I said it. It’s OK to be selfish. Altruism seems to be the new “in” thing to do. But getting on a bandwagon isn’t true altruism.

? If your business is struggling right now, it’s OK to be selfish and focus on making sure your employees still have a job next month.

? If you lost your job recently, it’s OK to be focused on finding a new one.

? If you just started a new job, it’s OK to be focused on meeting your quota so you can keep your job next month.

And the list can certainly go on from here.

The Point ? is you always have to take care of yourself first, before you can effectively help anyone else.

Think of it like this: Your sphere of influence expands as you succeed in first taking care of yourself, then your family, then your extended family, then your friends, your neighborhood, etc.

If you try to save the world before you have your own shit together, you will likely fail, and will likely find yourself in an even deeper hole.

Now those of us who do have our shit together and really do want to “add value” let’s do better at defining what that means, both for our own sake and for others.

Define your mission and vision

Companies and entrepreneurs often do a good job of this, and the rest of us should take note and apply this on a personal level. 

I had the pleasure of working with two entrepreneurs recently, Cris Bruno of Social Ink and Brent Weaver of UGurus. Each of them shared a very clear and quantifiable mission for themselves and their respective companies. Both of them want to help XX number of companies and business owners over a specific period of time. My conversation with Chris was a number of weeks ago, so my memory of his exact wording is a bit fuzzy, but I spoke with Brent yesterday on our podcast and his mission is to help 10,000 agency owners to find success and build freedom in their life. 

Now that’s value!

Simon Sinek famously said “start with why.” We all owe it to ourselves to define our personal why. Why are we doing what we’re doing? Why are we looking to add value? And then let’s define the who: who do we want to add value for?

Finally, define the what: how will you add value.

And let’s not forget that adding value may just be the best way to get all those other things you want. I personally believe we should all strive to give more than we take. But the vast majority of us do still want to take at some point… and that’s OK.

So how will you add value?

I’ll start.

First and foremost I want to provide financial security and freedom for my family, while giving back to the prematurity community (because our daughter was born at 24 weeks gestation, and that experience has led us to where we are today).

Secondly, I want to show there is a better way to build and run an agency, by creating a system of transparency and flexibility.

Thirdly, I want to share my knowledge and experiences, both personal and professional, with as many people as possible, so that people can learn from both my successes and failures.

What value are you trying to add?