What are your assets?

No matter what business you have–even if you are employed by someone else, you still have the business of you–being aware of your assets is critical. They’re what get you from where you are to where you’d like to go next. Assets are anything you have which can be coaxed to a higher level of value. You have more assets than you think so take some time to make a list.

Stop worrying about what you don’t have and focus on what you do.

Assets are what you do have and they can help you get what you want. Sometimes, they may not be able to do so directly, but they can take you to the next step. When you look at your assets, think. How does what you have add value to you and others? What makes it a tool to get you closer to what you want?

A stick, coaxed to a higher level of value, is a staff. 

Sometimes we all need help recognizing our assets. When Moses was in the desert–and I’m really paraphrasing here–he got some divine assistance. God asked Moses what he had to complete his mission. “Uh, I have this stick, my Lord.” Yeah, yeah he had a staff. But there’s a good example for you. What is a staff anyway? It’s a stick with a fancy name.

What other things can sticks become that have more value than the original? I’ve seen beautifully polished pieces of driftwood sell as art for hundreds of dollars. Sticks lathed to specific dimensions are called dowels. Those are pretty handy if you know what to do with them. A stick can become picture molding from which beautiful–and ugly–artwork hangs. A stick can be a splint to help the injured.

Paperclips are assets too. If you’ve never followed the story of the Red Paperclip, considering watching the video below for an amazing example of starting with what most people would consider nothing and turning that asset into so much more. I just love this story. Ok, sometimes this story shames me too, but at the moment I choose to find it inspiring. 

Sticks and paperclips can be assets, so what’s your excuse?

A facade has no structure. It simply exists to hide the truth.

Many assets are overlooked because of an overriding, ego-based, insecurity-driven need to maintain a false appearance. For example, inexperience is an asset. It’s the thing that drives you to throw up a facade to make people think you’re all that and a bag of chips. Yawn–do you really think that fools people?

Inexperience is something you have. Coaxed to a higher level of value it becomes experience, but not until the effort is made. That effort can be driven by the energy that typically fuels a person who is honest about their inexperience and wants more.  I’ve worked with people who are open and honest about their inexperience in an area they want to explore. Those people are a joy to work with compared to the showy bores who simply wait for their turn to speak in a conversation so they can show you how they’ve got it all figured out.

What happens when your inexperience is replaced with experience? Your asset has simply morphed into something new. Take it and coax it to an even higher level. But for every area where you have experience, there are many areas (countless, really) where you have none. Don’t neglect to explore your areas of inexperience as assets, even if you’re 95 years old. 

A desire to learn is an asset too

Years ago I was seeking a job in the print industry as a graphic artist. I had no formal training and knew little about graphics arts other than a few tricks in Adobe Illustrator ’88 I learned by reading an article in MacWorld Magazine. I got into an interview with a company looking to expand its use of computers for pre-press work. I had lots of computer skills and some knowledge of print based on working for a few months at a copy shop in Seattle. I used that to get my foot in the door, but I was otherwise outgunned by some extremely talented people. To my favor though, they were talented people who wanted to expand their knowledge.

During my interview, I was sat in front of a Mac where I launched Illustrator for the first time in my life and proceeded to amazed the Art Director with the tricks I learned from the article. I got the job and learned everything I could. I never lied about what I knew and did apply what I knew with gusto at that interview. It was so much easier than pretending I knew stuff I didn’t. 

I had at least two assets working in my favor in this situation. First was my own interest and desire to learn. I didn’t have a Mac at the time and never thought I’d use Illustrator for anything but I read that article with interest and retained the knowledge. That became an asset even though I didn’t realize it until the moment to apply it came along. The second asset was being in the midst of people who had plenty to teach me and who also wanted to learn. Their desire to learn, combined with the knowledge I had, landed me that job and some great experiences I’ll always cherish.

The best assets are often lurking where it’s believed there are no assets at all.

Now it’s your turn. What are your assets?

Go ahead and share them below.


  1. Sam (aka Yogitastic) on May 25, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Thanks for this post, Dave. I’m trying to figure out where I’m going career-wise and I’ve had to think about what exactly is it that I have to offer. I never considered inexperience as an asset but I think you’re on to something. Now if I can just figure out what I want to do… 🙂

    • Dave Saunders on June 7, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Thanks for the comment, Sam. It’s funny to think about how something we don’t have (from one perspective) is something we do have (from another). I hope the idea is empowering you to make some bold moves. 🙂

Leave a Comment