The Curious Question of Value

Updated: Aug 31

My work is about guiding high-achieving professionals and executives to connect to, and with, their professional value.


Business is obsessed with value. You have to deliver value to customers/clients/your own company. In the rush to be valuable, many people lose sight of what their value actually is.

There's a question I used to ask my clients in our first meeting which was:

What makes you different?

That question was born out of a genuine curiosity because in preparing for our meeting I read their collateral (résumé, LinkedIn profile, etc.) and I wasn't clear on how they were different.

Also, I wanted to assess how consistent they were between their document collateral and their verbal articulation of their value.

What typically occurred was that they tripped over the question. There was throat clearing, darting eyes, and long pauses as they bought themselves time to come up with a coherent answer.

The resulting answers across these executives and professionals had a common and clear through line:

No one knew how to answer that question with any confidence or specific precision.

This question of what makes you different speaks to the fundamental question of professional value.

What I’ve observed is that for many people the question of value is an assumption. We would rather talk about differentiation or proof instead of our actual value.

We also assume that everyone ‘knows’ our value.

After all, when we look at our professional environment, we see seeming 'evidence' that we have value and that 'evidence' reinforces our assumption of value:

  • We have a company laptop

  • We have co-workers

  • We have a title

  • We have a team

  • We are compensated X amount of money

The obvious answer seems to be: I *must* have value otherwise why would I have a laptop, co-workers, a title, a team, or compensation?

But that statement is a presumption.

Here's the interesting thing:

Those items are all downstream from the very thing which is your value.

More specifically, those items are outputs of your value. They are not inputs. Nor are they your value.

To borrow Plato’s Allegory of the Cave analogy, these items are reflective manifestations of something else.

However, that 'something else' is rarely examined, or challenged for the assumption it truly is.

That ’thing’ is your professional value.

Stay tuned for more in this series on Value.

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