In International Trade we learn the idea of comparative advantage, and how countries benefit from trading with each other if one is better at producing a commodity than another.
Within the first few lectures the professor will emphasize that a country doesn’t need absolute advantage for trade to be beneficial, just comparative advantage.
I think this concept can be applied to team dynamics.
For a while I’ve been insecure about the value I can add to a startup team. I don’t have any direct technical skills, my design skills are mediocre, and the accounting I’ve learned in school doesn’t apply to small businesses. But I don’t think any of us needs to be one of the best or even considered good to provide value to a team. We just need comparative advantage—to be better at a certain thing relative to the rest of the team members.
Recently I’ve been part of a video production startup with my friend Tony. When I first joined, I had no idea how I could help him. He had knowledge of the field, and had already been running his business for months. He told me he wanted to redesign his website. He built his website from scratch with flash, and told me he wanted to switch to Wordpress.
I had built a blog with Wordpress before so I know how to use it. I helped him get hosting, install Wordpress, find a theme, and with my small knowledge of CSS, I customized the theme to his liking. Then I used my small knowledge of copywriting to write all the words and descriptions. I even designed his favicon. None of these things are close to the realm of expertise, but these were things I am slightly better at than Tony, and because of that I’m valuable as a team member.
Today’s world puts too much emphasis on expertise—on having absolute advantage. Many people think that because they don’t have a high technical skill in something that they’re worthless, but they’re not worthless. To these people, I say concentrate on what you can provide and not what you lack.
Two days ago I attended The Santa Barbara Business Expo, my first networking event. Almost all the business blogs and books I’ve read give importance to networking and nothing convinced me more than when I met with my friend Jackie, a real estate agent. I asked her how business was since she had only become a licensed for a few months earlier, and from what I know about real estate, it takes years to get clients. But she told me that she’s busy and business keeps coming. What? How? I asked her what she did for marketing, and how she sought clients.
“Well, it was really easy. I found some real estate agent networking events to go to, and this guy I met told me he was leaving for Shanghai and gave me all his clients”.
My eyes widened. Of course there was some luck to this, and I couldn’t help myself from being jealous. I had spent the past few months, thinking of a business identity and value proposition, targeting my niche, sending out cold emails, meeting with potential middlemen …and Jackie just goes to a networking event and gets handed business.
Derek Sivers is holding a one-time class to teach you the "magic touch" in business, with examples, war stories, and lessons you can apply right now to do better by your customers and profit as a result of it -- and all the proceeds will go to charity.
The class will be on February 19th at 5PM California time (8PM East Coast). You can find out more at GiveGetWin by clicking here.
The Mentality Behind the Magic Touch; Derek Sivers interviewed by Chiara Cokieng
Derek Sivers sold CDBaby for $22 million dollars in 2008. In this interview, he explains what he's been doing now, how he's engaged with his new projects, and -- most excitingly for business owners and entrepreneurs -- the mentality behind the "magic touch" he had that made CDBaby so loved by its customers, and a huge part of how it grew so quickly. Here's Derek --
In 2008, when I sold CDBaby, I was about to start a new company immediately. Literally the day after I sold CDBaby, I was ready to start my next company. I incorporated it, I started programming, got a few months into building it, and then realized that if I were to do that, I wouldn’t be making any real change in my life.