Mental Model

To reach your full career potential, the work must leverage your unique talent which is essential to delivering the value proposition of the product or service. Without you, there is no value. In any organization there are “support” roles that can be easily disposed of when times get tough – avoid these. Your objective is to target your precious time on problems and processes where your expertise is critical and scarce. You want to be indispensable. This creates leverage and power to demand your true worth.


  • What you will learn – where to apply your talent.
  • Why it’s important – there is specific work that adds the most value to an organization and this is where you can demand your top worth.
  • The outcome – determine if you should transition to a different company or line of work to maximize your potential.


The reality is that in any company or organization there are must-have roles and others that are less important to delivering the value proposition to customers. Assuming you have worked hard to develop valuable skills, the key to your success will be where you apply those. You must adopt a mindset that is selective and strategic to apply your talent where you are absolutely essential. This will ultimately influence your compensation, power, and options.


1 – Be essential to the value chain

Choose work where your skill directly produces the value of the product or service.

Get out of “supporting” roles – this limits your power.

The fewer steps in the value chain or the more steps you control the better.

2 – Apply your talent where you are the only one who can do what you do

Avoid work environments where there is a large pool of similar talent to draw upon.

Pick opportunities where your employer cannot easily find someone else with your particular talent.

Make your skill feel and appear indispensable.

3 – Create a dynamic of dependence

Create a strong need for your skills and service.

Choose work assignments that can create a unique dependence on you.

Choose to work with people that have a higher need for you than the reverse.

Experiment With This

  • Your expertise will be valued differently by organizations depending on the industry and economics of the value proposition. You want a role that is critical to delivering value and not a “support” role. If the person or company that employs my services had to reduce costs, how likely would they cut my service? How can I expand my skillset to control more steps in the value chain?
  • If your role is easily dispensible or you can be replaced quickly, consider transitioning somewhere else in the company to become more essential. What skills do I need to develop that are more valuable and unique to become more essential?
  • Do the research and read the news to learn new skills that are emerging or will be more essential in the near future.
  • Everybody is replaceable in their line of work so planning for the worst and hoping for the best is a smart strategy. How easy or difficult will it be to find my next source of income if one is cut off abruptly? What should I start doing now to manage that risk?


The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene (Law 11 – Learn to Keep People Dependent On You)

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – by Greg McKeown