The Scale-Up of You: 10 Ways To Link Opportunities & Resources

Quote cited from Dr. CK Bray email newsletter, August 14, 2019.

Originally published on August 15, 2019 on my LinkedIn profile.


What are some ways for an individual to scale-up their personal lives and/or professional careers? This was the number one question I received after giving a talk this evening called The Scale-Up of You. I’m going to continue that talk with this article by similarly weighing heavily on combining opportunity and resources.

Slides from my presentation

What Is the Scale-Up of You?

First, the scale-up of you is the ability to recognize your current resources and opportunities, and then pair them with potentially new resources and opportunities through creativity, new possibilities and strategic fit. Your end result would be growth, improvement, newness, support of others, and so on.

I used an arrow as a metaphor. When we think of an arrow, we think of the point zipping through the air and hitting its target. The most important part of that arrow, however, is the fletching, or the fins or feathers that guide the arrow. The fletching makes the arrow “fit” to hit its target. That fitness is what I called “fitness for ambition”.

Another way to look at it is if you’re feeling stuck, or your ambition is driving you to want more, etc. What do you have, and what can you make of it? In poker, one replaces cards (resource) to gain a stronger hand (opportunity). A person might exercise more (opportunity) in order to gain strength, endurance or to look and feel better (resource).

Before I get to the list of 10 ways to link opportunities and resources, let’s review the three examples I gave during my talk.

Example 1: Scaling-Up A Business

An accounting firm might look at how it competes in the market (opportunity), and think about the data–financial information of its clients (resources)–to create new revenue streams. In the graphic below, an accounting firm today might

  1. Compete nonstop without differentiation – Conventional.
  2. Compete as a niche service provider – Conventional.
  3. Compete in a way that supports and provides services to the entire market in a way that makes use of existing opportunities and resources – Strategic. Ex. Offering organization development services based upon financial data already in the possession of the accounting firm as a coupling strategy. (Read more…)

Example 2: Scaling-Up A Community Service

I am a proud Assistant Organizer under Max Crismon and Jacob Miller for Get Hired (Tech and Healthcare), a Vancouver, WA-based community group that educates job seekers to get hired. We pay careful attention to the needs of our members and stakeholders (opportunities) and combine them with potential value-add outreach (resources), e.g. community programming, partnerships, sponsorships, etc. This way, we grow the group, create new programming, and support the community.

Strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities. 

-Michael E. Porter, 1996

Example 3: Scaling-Up A Person

Earlier this year I wrote an article on Scott Fish, a marketing strategy and SEO expert (read more…). It was a fascinating informational interview that led to an even more fascinating written result. Scott took stock of his values, beliefs and resources and created new opportunities and resources that, interconnected, created an exemplary lifestyle business. The activity-system map below depicts those factors that in aggregate become the over-arching strategy (green = strategies; gray = activities)

10 Ways To Scale-Up You

Your fitness for ambition makes the possibilities infinite. In every one of the 10 ways, the value you create or of which you are capable gives you a shot at scaling-up. That should inspire the reader!

So, what do you have, and how might you strategically observe new opportunities and new resources to create growth, improvement, newness, support of others, and so on.

1. Serve More Value to Existing Clients, Management, Staffers, the Community, etc.

You have innate competencies. They are valuable. What of those competencies are you not currently using that could provide new value? A good place to start is what are your hobbies?

  • Say you sew (resource). Then make a gift to show appreciation to a client (opportunity). The client might learn that you actually do care.
  • Do you enjoy going home at night and curating your Pinterest page (resource)? Offer to do so for the company – it’ll be fun (opportunity)! Maybe you’ll get a raise.
  • Are you a grill master (resource)? Invite the team over for a Sunday cookout (opportunity). The team might bond.

Use those skills to create a better product, establish better effort, support the interests of others, etc. in a way you do not currently. Ask yourself what might result, and thereby what new opportunities you could partake.

2. Find Someone Else Who Else Might Have Interest In What You’re Currently Doing.

They say it takes two to tango. If you’re in the mood to dance, then find a dancing partner. This starts by understanding that both you and what you do is valuable.

  • If you excel at data architecture (resource) and you want to get a job in that arena, then build out a sensible platform for a nonprofit, pro bono (opportunity). It will be rewarding for both parties (opportunity), and you can put it on your resume (resource). Could that lead to a new or future job?

3. Find Someone Whose Activity Is Interesting To You.

News flash: No one knows everything…no, not even you! So ask questions, learn from others, and show appreciation for the value that others create.

  • Say you work on the floor in manufacturing (resource) and you want to pursue a career in data analytics (opportunity). Speak with your manager (opportunity) about using your lunch hour in the morning or afternoon to shadow the business analysts (resource).

4. Support Others’ Sense of Value.

We’ve all seen a movie in which the new kid at school gets beat up. Inevitably, the hand extended to lift them off the floor is attached to the new best friend. Your job is already hard enough, right? We could all use a helping hand from out of nowhere. It may not always be the thought that counts, but the gift of giving.

  • It sure would be great if the marketing department got their hands on data you read about over the weekend. Bring it in on Monday, or email it (opportunity) and say “this may or may not be of interest to you, but I thought of you when I read it” (resource). Perhaps you could support a new effort at work.

5. Acknowledge A Mistake.

This is an unusual one, but a powerful motivation and reason for scaling-up. Why, it’s the source of this article! The Ritz-Cartlon Hotel managers I worked with when I installed point of sale systems back in 2007-08 used to never use the word “problem.” Every problem was an opportunity. They were right!

  • I gave a talk, but failed to provide tangible examples for my audience. My deficiency is, indeed, an opportunity to provide resources to that group and others who read this list. I gave myself lemons, and so I am making lemonade! The result is use of a lesson (opportunity) Max Crismon taught in his talk proceeding mine. I’m producing content (resource) on my LinkedIn profile. ‘Not a bad way to rectify a mistake, right?!

6. Start A Community Group

There are so many platforms for serving the community and creating opportunities for yourself in the process. Whatever hobby you may have it is a guarantee that others have that same hobby, too. For example, I have organized a number of strategy conversations amongst coffee café owners here in Vancouver, WA. Take the lead, be entrepreneurial, make new friends and have fun.

  • Meetup.com (resource) is a great way to establish a group (opportunity) and market it to others who may have interest.
  • Serving others (opportunity) is rewarding (resource).
  • Bolster your resume and fill up your calendar (opportunity) by creating activities (resource) you would join if someone else were already running a community group.

7. Write.

This for me has been a big one. My ‘Interviews of the Ambitious’ campaign was a lot of fun.

  • I got to meet and promote some amazing people (opportunity).
  • I created thought-leadership (resource).
  • I honed my writing skill (opportunity).
  • I bolstered my ability to create graphics (opportunity).
  • I gave myself reason (opportunity) to reach out to–and get permission from–industry experts to use their research, perspective, experience, etc. (resource) in my articles.

8. Volunteer.

I recently posted on LinkedIn that an alum of my ‘Interviews of the Ambitious’ volunteered for Smokey the Bear’s 75th birthday. Roland Emetaz got to hand out stickers to young children (opportunity), take photographs with the fire brigade (opportunity), dress up in an historically-accurate National Park uniform, and even be interviewed by a television crew that came out to cover the event. Mind, Roland is not wanting for publicity or monetary benefits. It just makes him happy (resource) serving others and giving back (opportunity).

So how might you gain more of what you want (resource) by giving up your time to a special cause (opportunity)?

9. Teach.

You have skills, education, experience and the ability to work with others. Why not share what you know?

  • Approach your local university – whatever department matches your professional trade. Find out if you can mentor a college student to help their future career (opportunity).
  • Conduct a lunch and learn in your office (opportunity).
  • Stage a training at your local library for the public to learn more about what you do (opportunity).
  • Gather your peers–in your office and across industry–for a happy hour (opportunity) to discuss a set topic (resource) and support one another’s professional growth.

10. Contact the Industry Leader.

Meaningful contact is implied here, i.e. not on Twitter or Instagram, etc. Write a letter to that person’s office, tell him or her how you enjoy their blog or their YouTube channel or their books, etc. Maybe you could suggest (opportunity) a collaboration to help the industry leader connect with his or her constituency (people like you!). The reward (resource) might just be making contact (opportunity). It may also be a conversation piece at your next networking event, job interview or blog post.

Linking Opportunities and Resources Is Interesting

There are so many different ideas and options, reasons and motivations, and creative notions for linking opportunities and resources. In the end, they should be fun, rewarding, supportive (of your career, of others’ interests, etc.), and reasonable steps to reposition your present into a new and different future state. You are fit for ambition.

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