Anyone, no matter how downtrodden (or how excluded from the Core Group), can build equity. But there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for building a portfolio of organizational equity. Your choice depends on what is easy for you, and on what equity your organization and its Core Group value. Most important, your choice depends on the kind of life you are trying to create. Because you cannot tell in advance which will be most useful to you, the accrual of many forms of equity will help contribute to a well-rounded life. A reputation for being trustworthy and capable and an extensive network of competent, trustworthy friends who take your calls is a better hedge than a lot of money invested in an unbalanced portfolio of stocks. A lifelong strategy of building equity also means that you don’t have to wait for someone else to bestow something on you — whether it’s stock options, jobs, or membership in the Core Group.
So when taking on a new assignment or pushing your job to a new level, you should ask yourself: What kinds of equity does this challenge require? How much of that equity will I need ahead of time, and how much can I build on the job? And if I don’t have it, what do I do to develop it, and how long will that take?
One final bit of encouragement: Building any of these forms of equity is easier than it seems. It always starts off as a slow and agonizing process, until you cross the threshold of confidence. And by the time you cross the threshold of sustainability (if you ever get there), it’s hard to remember that you ever had a problem.
This article is adapted from Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege, and Business Success, by Art Kleiner. © 2003 by Art Kleiner. To be published by Doubleday Currency in August 2003.
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[email protected] is the “Culture & Change” columnist and a regular contributor of “The Creative Mind” profiles for strategy+business. He teaches at New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. His Web site is www.well.com/user/art. Mr. Kleiner is the author of The Age of Heretics (Doubleday, 1996); his next book, Who Really Matters: The Core Group Theory of Power, Privilege, and Business Success, will be published by Doubleday Currency in August 2003.