College failed many of us. In the end, we know that the piece of paper we got doesn’t have any inherent value. What determines the value of a college degree is not the fact that we got it, but what we did to get it in between orientation and graduation. From junior high school through college, the focus was always on the 4.0GPA. We all knew that a GPA didn’t really reflect who was the smartest or who would be the most successful. That’s why today, even a 4.0 GPA isn’t enough to guarantee you success personally or professionally. Though important, the world’s most successful people didn’t have the best GPAs. There are other measurements that correlate with your long-term success better than the GPA alone.
Now that we are professionals and there is no real metric except money. But most people’s income is based on someone else’s pay scale and timeline meaning that most people don’t have control over their ultimate income. The myth is that if you work hard, you will get noticed. And once you get noticed, you’ll get promoted. And when you get promoted, you’ll get higher pay. Unfortunately, that’s not totally true. Almost everyone has a superior who isn’t more skilled, talented, gifted, or smarter than them. Because in the real world, there is another 4.0 that really matters which is made up of your personal capital, intellectual capital, social capital and financial capital. And every year, we should focus on intentionally growing each of these capitals to advance our personal and professional lives.
1.0 Personal Capital
How well you know yourself
Personal capital is how well you know yourself. This includes your awareness of your strengths, weaknesses, purpose, passions, and interests. It also has to do with knowing what type of environments, motivators, and people you work well with and which ones you don’t. There aren’t many classes on college campuses that help you understand who you are and your employer simply may not care. So oftentimes, you have to explore these things outside of class and work on your own through personal development classes, coaching, and readings.
As you think about your personal capital ask yourself these questions:
- What are my strengths? Take The Gallup StrengthsFinder to learn your top 5 strengths or choose them from this list of 34.
- What personality traits attract people to me? My integrity, My attention to detail, My caring and calming spirit, My wit, my initiative, My adventurous nature. Check out this list of personality traits.
- What are my gifts, talents, and super powers? Fast thinker, Very hospitable, I’m a connector, I’m detail-oriented, Great listener, Funny
- What are my passions and interests? Travel, Food, American history, Architecture
4 ways you can grow your personal capital this year:
- Get a coach to help you see yourself
- Invest in a personal development event
- Reflect and write regularly
- Meditate daily for 5-15 minutes
2.0 Intellectual Capital
What you know
Intellectual capital is what you know. This includes your expertise in one or two subjects or skills. For some people this stems from their college major, but for most people it’s not. When you walk into any room, what subject would you feel comfortable speaking on in front of anyone for an hour? Or, what skill can you do well and replicate success more than the average person? So many college graduates graduate with majors and minors, but still lack intellectual capital. As professionals we start to develop skills related to our jobs, but the risk is getting great at what you hate. When you get great at something you hate, you attract more of it. Instead, you might as well focus on getting great at what you want to be great at. Whether you are a student or a professional, you have be intentional about the skills you want to develop and the subjects you want to master.
As you think about your intellectual capital ask yourself these questions:
- If I had to give a 15 minute TED Talk or write a book, what subject would I feel comfortable speaking or writing about? Cultivating creativity, The future of work, 15th century American history, Harry Potter, The evolution of the music industry
- If I had to give a 15 minute demonstration, what skill would I feel confident demonstrating or teaching? How to meditate, How to lead virtual teams, How to ht a 90 mph fast ball, How to build a bridge, How to write a business plan
- What are my passions and and areas interests that I’m actively trying to deepen and improve through books, YouTube, groups, Google, TED talks, etc? Travel, Food, Egyptian history, Architecture, Marvel comics, Wearable technology, Chess
- What trainings or certifications have I earned? Project Management Certification, Licensed Therapist, Six Sigma Black Belt, Teaching Credential
- What conferences have I attended or what courses have I taken? Advanced degrees, Online classes, Night Classes, etc
4 ways you can grow your intellectual capital this year:
- Attend a class or conference in person or online
- Read an article per day and a book a month on a particular subject
- Hire a skill-based expert to teach you
- Join a group of people committed to learning
3.0 Social Capital
Who you know and who knows you
Social capital is who you know and who knows you. This includes your networks up, down, across, and out. How many people are listed in your cell phone who aren’t family, and who are older than you? Who can you call on when you need professional or personal advice? How many friends can you call on if you need helping moving? How many people are you connected with at different colleges, corporations, and organizations across the country? Your social capital can consist of mentors, alumni, seasoned professionals, parents’ friends, professors, counselors, coaches, and advisors, and peers committed to your personal greatness. It has very little to do with how many friends you have on Facebook. It’s all about who is committed to your personal and professional growth and development and vice versa.
As you think about your social capital ask yourself these questions:
- If I were running for President of the United States, what organizations could I influence to help me? Board of Directors for a national non-profit, Vice President of my college alumni group, Treasurer at my spiritual center, On the school board
- What organizations am I affiliated or associated with, but don’t have influence in? Colleges, Fraternities, Sororities, Professional organizations, Affinity Groups, Employee Resource Groups, Associations
- Who are my personal and professional mentors and sponsors?
- Which of my friends or family members do I consider tastemakers and influencers?
- What other prominent people do I know on a first name basis and can call?
- How big is my LinkedIn and Facebook network?
- How many people follow my blog or follow me on social media?
4 ways you can grow your social capital this year:
- Host potlucks several times throughout the year with friends and/or accept invitations to events that you would normally say “No” to
- Join or volunteer for a professional organization and take on a leadership role
- Send thank you letters to everyone who helped you get where you are today
- Interview experts in your field via a podcast or a blog
4.0 Financial Capital
Who knows that you know what you know
Financial capital is who knows that you know what you know. Reread that—it’s a tricky one. When the right people know that you know a lot about a subject or can execute a skill that they need, that’s when financial opportunities flow. Financial capital grows at the intersection of your intellectual and social capital. Imagine that you are looking for a new job opportunity—which is also a financial opportunity—the interview process is all about building a relationship with the hiring manager, interviewers, and the company, and then convincing them that you are the most knowledgeable and skillful at solving the problem they are hiring for. Anyone who has strong social capital and knows people in their target company has an advantage because referrals are one of the top ways people get jobs. Also, those who can show through past performance that they are the best at what they do will have an advantage in the hiring process as well. While a salary is a great source of financial capital, its growth is oftentimes dictated by a corporate ladder that you must wait to advance up. When you think about your financial capital as the intersection of your intellectual and social capital, it empowers you because you are in full control of how your intellectual and social capitals grow. Financial capital comes in the form of job opportunities, investment opportunities, entrepreneurial opportunities, and access to capital.
As you think about your financial capital ask yourself these questions:
- What are my current assets at this moment? Checking, Savings, Stocks
- What are my long-term assets? Home, 401K, etc
- How much debt do I have? Student loans, Mortgage, Car Note, Credit Cards, Overdue Taxes
- What is my overall net worth?
- What are my streams of income?
- What kind of individual access do I have to money? Relationships with private investors, high net worth individuals, etc
- What kind of institutional access do I have to money? Relationships with investment funds, banks, etc.
- What spaces does I have influence over how money is used? Board of Directors, School Board, University Trustee, Community Board
- What financial opportunities may emerge if my intellectual and social capital converge?
4 ways you can grow your financial capital this year:
- Start a side hustle for additional income and/or seek a higher paying job
- Develop your personal brand and create a website so that your friends know what you have to offer
- Eliminate credit card debt
- Invest your money in just about anything except a savings account
While a 4.0 GPA may measure your book smarts, the 4.0 that really matters in life is about street smarts. How will you navigate this uncertain world ahead of us? Your life is your vehicle to design, drive, and maintain, and growing your 4 capitals will keep you in the driver’s seat so that you have the power and control to direct your life exactly where you want it to go.