You need an MBA!

You need a credit score above 800!

You need a resume full of experience!

You need a folio full of certificates, degrees, and credentials!


There are four things that will get you into six-figure pay:


ONE. Curiosity

Without curiosity, you are never going to help move an organization forward. The non-curious are better suited for carrying out orders than giving them. Curiosity’s twin sibling is imagination.

Are you the kind of person who is always looking up what new things mean? Wanting to travel to see how other people shape their lives? Eager to try new foods, learn new languages, hear from opposing viewpoints, take things apart to see how they work, and always asking questions?

Richard Branson was on a documentary my wife and I were watching last month. A quote from him which surprised me: “I’m a dyslexic drop-out with a low IQ, but I’m curious about everything.” One of the most creative billionaires on the planet!

Branson has always loved the Virgin Islands. His plane hop over to one of them was cancelled when he was a young man. So he rented a plane with a dozen seats and made a sign: Virgin Airlines! I’m flying to the Islands. Seats for sale!….So he got there for free. And the rest is history.


TWO. Ability to Connect the Dots

This is where a broad (not necessarily formal) education comes in handy. An ability for expansive thinking sees all kinds of new market opportunities, and creative upgrades of goods and services.

Henry Ford: People weren’t looking for a Model T; they were looking for a faster horse. Are you constantly making up puns in your head (fun with connecting linguistic dots)? Extra credit if you crack multi-lingual puns. When people mention something, your first thought is, “That reminds me of…..”

Tinkering (mechanically) is a good indicator of this skill. The Wright brothers, Edison, Curie, Tesla, Jobs, Bezos, Musk, and Gates were all rejects or peripheral at best in relation to our education system. But they tinkered their brains out. Always looking for new connections no one else had made: Taking pictures with your phone. Software separate from computers, bookstores with no walls, using bicycle technology to build a flying machine.


THREE. Ability to Win Over the Hearts and Minds of Your Team.

Either through raw charisma (Jobs, Branson), earning respect (Gates), infectious energy (Musk), or just plain good social skills, big earners see the team as essential to their success, and they never, ever take them for granted.

This is the one skill that trips up big-idea people most often. And many of them learn from team meltdowns or even getting fired from the companies they started.

Most people have had a controlling, bad-tempered boss. Notice how they never rise above the lower-level boss world? There’s a reason for that…

Being able to ask for help is perhaps the most important skill in the quiver of great leaders. If you often think: If I want to do it right, I’ll have to do it myself, you have two choices:

  1. Give up on leadership, because you’ll never be good at it.
  2. Completely change your mind-set.

To accomplish big things, you need a team, and those who do everything themselves will always be limited in what they can accomplish. If you can’t ask for help, you can’t lead.

And you can’t ask for help unless you have a team around you that has been won over to “the cause.”


FOUR. Grit

The ability to maintain a good temperament in challenging times will be necessary, because if you can do all four of these things, people won’t know what to do with you. You won’t fit into a neat little roles of an organization; you may not even bother reading (all of) your job description. You will likely get fired more than once.

Security and stability are often the first ballast to go for high-impact individuals. Most of the ones I know have gone broke once or twice. But unlike most people, they can bounce back to their previous level of abundance in just a matter of weeks.

If you are one of these folks, you may be tempted to take your creativity OUT of the work world and just have fun and quirky hobbies. What a waste!

Persistence and grit are required for every human, but especially for those who want to add big and inventive value to the world. They may have to muscle and elbow their way into the marketplace; to come back quickly from setbacks and failures.


On which of the four do you need to work?
If you have read this far, you likely have the potential to work at the highest levels in our economy.

These came out of a conversation last week with a friend of mine, Jay Gromek of Brooklyn, NY. Not sure where he got them. I’ve modified them somewhat for the sake of clarity.


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