On September 26, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of students who are highly motivated and highly committed to making significant change in order to achieve spectacular personal results. This is not any ordinary group of students. These are the students of HopeWorks.

HopeWorks offers an intense life changing twelve week study and on their website they describe themselves as a “…not-for-profit organization that seeks to serve the under-resourced through outreach programs that develop individual worth, encourage personal responsibility and promote the honor and value of work…”

Each week the speakers from the business community come in to talk about being successful in the workplace. It’s an electrifying atmosphere in anticipation in what the future holds. Each speaker approaches their 45 minute window differently but I chose to focus on  employees learning to create value for themselves.

Employers and employees are looking for two different things. An employer’s needs range from finding someone that makes their job easier to finding someone who adds value to the company. An employee’s focus is different. No one goes to work for the benefit of someone else. They should go to work for the exclusive benefit of themselves.

I told them that an employee’s first loyalty is to themselves. On the surface that sounds backwards. After all, shouldn’t they be focused on their jobs and putting the company first so the company can succeed? In a word, No. Everyone should act in their own best interests. It’s in the best interests for an employee to approach their work as a professional and develop into the best in their industry…no matter what that is. This brings the most value to them.

Instead of looking at a company as the opportunity, envision the market place as your opportunity. Employers look for skilled, exceptional, dependable employees that add value. Figure out who they are and chase them. You can separate yourself by controlling the basic things you can control like being on time, body language, being coachable, attitude etc. to name a few. Doing these basic things to start with will separate you from the pack.