Strategy Theme

Strategically apply your time, talent, and energy to a target with a valuable and sustainable market opportunity that aligns with your identity to create an irresistible and unique value proposition.

The critical question of the Target strategy will last a lifetime:

How do you create unique value and remain relevant throughout your career?

This will dictate where we spend our limited time, talent, and treasure.

This question must be probed throughout life to stay relevant in a rapidly changing environment.

Billions of people are competing in the talent market.

Your life will be dictated by how you play and the product you have to offer.

In the world of product strategy, product-market fit describes the moment when a startup finally finds a widespread set of customers that resonate with its product (The Lean Startup by Eric Ries).

You are the essential product of your life.

By applying time-tested business and product strategies, you can actively manage career fit throughout your life.

This can increase the likelihood of your desired outcomes, such as autonomy, direction, purpose, achievement, financial rewards, unique experiences, and fulfillment.

The answer to where to spend your time and why will not come easy – you will need to do the work.

The “target” is the optimal place in the market where you have something unique that customers love. Your love for this place compels you to master your craft and evolve it to remain relevant. One of the objectives of this strategy is to help you find that place.

The Target Concept

Career Strategy Framework – Target Concept

A “target” is a visual metaphor for finding your optimal career fit. It’s where you apply your time, talent, and energy to valuable customer problems with unique solutions emanating from your identity. Throughout your career, you will likely have many targets as your interests change and the dynamics of the world unfold through forces you do not control. Your relevancy over the long term is predicated on your ability to adapt and find new targets throughout your career.

You will unlikely start a career at the center of your ideal target. It’s generally a slow and steady journey experimenting with various jobs while you develop skills and hone in on where you provide the most value. You will feel the energy and positive emotions from work that resonates to your core. Through this exploration and iteration, you learn the dynamics of the market and the uniqueness that sets you apart from others. Reaching the center of the target is only possible when you have amassed the skills, experience, and credibility in your field. There are no career and life hacks to find the center instantly. Finding this magical place will require patience, focus, self-belief, and endurance. There are many ways to find your career target, such as creating a job that does not exist within an organization, job transitions, or starting a venture you control.

The fundamental tenets of the Target strategy are to:

  1. Target a path of your individuality that is profitable and sustainable – Act as a strategist to evaluate trends and select profitable markets that offer outstanding financial rewards and are sustainable over time. Choosing to go into a market that does not provide monetary rewards or is short-lived is a non-starter. 
  2. Target problems with solutions where you create unique value – Differentiation drives above-normal returns and demand for your work. Target problems in your chosen field or job where you create exceptional value.
  3. Target opportunities that align with your identity and love for the work – Perform work that exudes who you are and how you see yourself. Loving the work and bringing energy will fuel you to overcome challenges and master your craft.

Strategy Outcomes

By internalizing and practicing the ideas within this strategy, you will increase the ability to:

  • Free yourself from being everything to everybody or undifferentiated in a crowded field.
  • Experience the peace and tranquility of a unique career path that is within your control.
  • Work on problems and causes that have meaning.
  • Remain relevant in a highly competitive talent pool and dynamic external environment.
  • Increase your wealth by offering something unique and scarce.

Career Targets Are Dynamic

Change is one thing we can guarantee when managing our career target. Each of the four factors contributes to a dynamic market where you and the market evolve. 

  • Identity – who we are, what we believe in, what we want, and our roles in life change over our careers.
  • Unique solutions – we develop new skills and experiences that shape our capacity to create and monetize unique value propositions. Competitors and technology aggressively enter markets with opportunity, and your uniqueness may fade. 
  • Energy – we may experience changes in our love for the work or environments that create or destroy our energy.
  • Valuable customer needs – preferences, problems, and opportunities are constantly changing due to forces in the external environment. It’s through the dynamics of supply and demand that price the value of solving the need or problem.

My mental model thinks about this as an optimization problem. In data science, supervised optimization algorithms aim to estimate a target function (f) that best maps input data (x) onto output variables (y). A machine learning algorithm called gradient descent (or ascent) takes short, incremental random walks to find a global optimum. That optimum could be to minimize or maximize the output. The picture above has multiple starting points, but the algorithm will “hunt” and eventually find the global optima.

Think of your time, talent, identity, and energy as the input data. Your mind needs to function as the “optimizer” to find the work that delivers the maximum output value. View the “random walks” as your career journey to search and locate the work and conditions that enable you to reach your true potential. You may have become comfortable and think you are operating at your potential, but a new optimum may surface through this dynamic marketplace. Transitioning throughout your career will help you remain relevant to the market and stay true to your identity.

Mental Models

  • Target a Path of Your Individuality That Is Profitable and Sustainable

    Mental Model The core strategy for wealth and freedom is a career path and value proposition that offers something different to the market that is profitable and sustainable. Following the crowd into common career paths offer no opportunity to stand out or demand high compensation. Each of us is radically unique shaped by our DNA,…

  • Target Your Talent Where It’s Essential to the Mission

    Mental Model It’s our responsibility to choose the organizations and jobs to which we allocate our time, talent, and treasure. There will come a time when external environmental forces drive the need for a lower-cost operating model with headcount reduction. Or political forces that seek to change the organization. The strength of your value proposition…

  • Target a Venture Within Your Control: Be An Owner

    Mental Model Time is the most valuable resource of your life. Ideally what you want is a venture where you have control of your time, your product, and your creative spirit. Target a path (or one of your paths) and venture that is within your control. Letting others decide your work and freedom of expression…

  • Target Problems with Unique Solutions – Different Wins

    Mental Model The world is full of old-age problems and continually produces new ones that present opportunities for someone to solve them in new ways. As you travel down your path, deciding which problems you target will influence your achievements, financial rewards, and fulfilling your life purpose. Deciding what not to allocate your precious time…

  • Target Developing Valuable Skills

    Mental Model Your time is limited and what you learn using that time will significantly dictate your opportunities in life. If you are seeking wealth and peace, develop valuable skills that will provide a solid foundation throughout life. Understand that many subjects and concepts you learn in school and college do not translate to skills…

  • Target Nonlinear Opportunities to Accelerate Wealth

    Mental Model One unit of work that produces a unit of output will not make you wealthy. Renting out your time only makes someone else rich who knows how to play the game. The wealthy understand that you must productize yourself and then scale unique knowledge non-linearly via the Internet to create the exponential curve…

  • Target Your Talent as a Product Across A Diversified Portfolio

    Mental Model Having one line of work that is your only source of income should make you feel uncomfortable. Wealthy people have a diversified portfolio of income-producing assets that reduce risk and accelerate wealth. The reality is you are not going to be able to work forever. Think of yourself as a product that can…