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The Building Blocks of an Empire

If you were going to build an empire, how would you do it?

I've been thinking on this lately. I want to choose the imperial path first, last, and always. Every decision I make ought to be to the end of building. We can get into the "why" of it and philosophy another time, but I think pretty much the meaning of life is to expand, the mid-term goal of humanity ought to be to spread outside of Planet Earth and diversity our habitats a little bit, and I'd like to participate in doing that.

That's a really long discussion though, so we'll save that for another time. Yesterday I was in a really nice cafe and I was thinking, "You know, I want to always be choosing the empire-building way. When choosing between options, when prioritizing, when picking activities, when picking projects - I want to choose expansion and empire."

I thought about that and I don't have any really good heuristics for what's conducive to expansion and what isn't. So today I went to a cool little Vietnamese restaurant where the owner is friendly, got some coffee and tea and bread, and started brainstorming a little bit.

It is your business!

On Reflections

Organisations touch our lives everyday, in one way or another, whether you like it or not. We simply cant do without them. From schooling to healthcare, from entertainment to electronics, from food to shelter - organisations touch every aspect of our lives. There are charity organisations, non-profits, non-governmental and for profit organisations. Be it any kind of org, if it needs to be successful and be effective in carrying out its mission, its purpose, then it certainly needs some kind of organising plan. We can call it a business model (even though not all orgs are businesses; we can use the word business in its broadest sense).

The point of this post is not to elaborate on the pros and cons of business models. I simply want to draw your attention to the similarity (often unnoticed) between an organisation (say, a business org) and your career. I think its an interesting similarity.

Every business (and a business plan) has to focus on some key parameters or elements in order to make sense of its existence and be effective in achieving its goals. Like, for example, a business needs to identify who its key customers are, how it plans to engage with these customers and what customers actually want. It also needs to know what its strengths are, its key relationships, its value chain, its cost and its revenue model, among other things. Clarity on some of these key elements are necessary (though they may not be entirely sufficient) for any organisation to achieve its true potential. Typically, these factors and many other facets of a business are covered in great detail in a business plan. This document then becomes a guiding light for members of organisations. Of course, the model can be dynamic (at least the effective ones are) and will need to be modified to reflect actual experiences and changing expectations of all stakeholders.

Now consider your own career. How different is it to the workings of an organisation? Don't elements like customers, value addition, costs and revenues make sense from a career point-of-view as well? Well, I think so and let me explain. Just like any business, you too have customers (the company or organisation you work for). You have costs (in terms of your time spent and other opportunity costs). You certainly need to know your strengths and weaknesses. You need to know your network of key relationships, both inside and outside your organisation. These days you do need a marketing plan and a "personal branding" strategy. Your revenue model is quite simply your compensation (in all its forms). You would do well to have an idea of how you add value to your organisation. You do make investments in many forms like a college education. So, in effect, all those elements apply to you as much as it applies to a business. You are not much different from a business at all, are you?

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