As individuals, we invest our resources – time, skills, relationship, energy into each job and organisation that we work for in expectation of accruing more of what we invested. We are career capitalists in our own right and the whole employment relationship typifies a capitalist economy. As argued by experts, capitalism may not be perfect, but it is perhaps the best way to organise an economy. Ayn Rand, the author of “Capitalism: the unknown ideals” claims that no politico-economic system in history has ever proved its value so eloquently or has benefited mankind as greatly as capitalism. I consider it relevant to apply some of the principles of capitalism in managing our career in this ever changing business world as it appears that the world of work is actually created for the employees – the capitalist.
Capitalism enables private actors to own and control property in accord with their interest in a way that can serve the best interests of the society. Invariably, as a career capitalist, the principles that hold for the success of capitalism also hold true for you. Four of these principles are;
1. Ownership of Private Property: Capitalist own properties and continue to acquire more. As a career capitalist, knowledge is your main product and for your product to remain competitive you must own assets/properties in three areas;
– Know Why – your purpose, interests, values and motivation for doing what you do
– Know how – your skills, competencies, qualifications
– Know whom – your communities, networks, relationship.
2. Driven by self-interest: Although, the interest of a capitalist is primarily to benefit the economy at large, this is however not done without his interest first. As Adam Smith put it, “it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest”. A Capitalist understands that he cannot obtain what he or she wants without addressing what the other wants, it is this rational self-interest that lead to economic prosperity. For career capitalists, you are first driven by self-interest but with an understanding that in order to satisfy your interest, you must have the interest of others at heart. As far as your others are concerned, you must give them what they want to satisfy your own interest.
Your others include;
Your Employer: you help them to achieve their goals through your job responsibility. What you get in return is your asset (Know-why, know-how and know-whom). Of course you get paid for doing your job, your salary is not an asset except you invest it in boosting any of the three areas you must own assets
Your Network: the principle behind networking is that of sowing and reaping, you sow first before you can reap. If you expect anything good from your network, as a career capitalist, you must always be giving to them. Link them up with others that can help them, give them information that will help their business and organisation, make yourself available to help
Your Family: you want to be a successful career capitalist without being a failure at the home front, then serve the interest of the family first. Generally speaking, the interest of the family you need to serve are usually the first three level of needs at the lower rung of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – physiological, safety and love needs. Invest in this and see how your family supports your career aspiration.
3. Competition: Under capitalism, competition should not be construed as destroying the competitor, but striving to do a more excellent job than anyone else. Sun Tzu said that “the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting”. Although being a career capitalist does not make you at war with your competitors, the idea here is to work on yourself, build more capacity that can render your competitors as jokers when it comes to offering excellent and innovative service, such that you don’t have to even attack before they are defeated.
Scarcity is one of the hallmarks of capitalism and also a driving force of competition. You can only have one CEO in a company but many people would like to have the job. Whoever gets the job is the one who has shown to be better than other competitors in providing an excellent service to the company.
4. Volition: Capitalism emphasizes freedom to choose what to consume, produce and what to invest it. A dis-satisfied customer can change supplier as much as you as a career capitalist can change your employer. However, exercising the freedom of choice is enhanced by the assets at your disposal. Your primary focus as a career capitalist therefore will be to spend more of your resources on asset acquisition and development.