Your Manager Doesn’t Hold All The Power To Decide Your Future. You Do When You Choose The Future You.

If you’re part of the knowledge economy, the “product” being purchased and sold is your time. The value of that (awesome) “product” is its ability to figure out how to do things, sometimes in very ambiguous circumstances, in the future.

If this is the first time you’ve read this or heard me talk about this, I want you to let that sink in for a second. We are all buying and selling our time to each other every day. Now, if we get paid for that time, well, that’s a conversation for another day. Because yes, as someone how has some experience in what in the ad business is called “yield & pricing” (for laypeople – how can you optimize your limited resource for the best price?), I have all sorts of thoughts about the payment part. But let’s get back to you.

Your time is a product you “rent” to people. A brilliant, complex, always evolving, sometimes surprising product that also expects “payment” for that time in more than just money. Here’s what also makes this infinitely fascinating market of “renting time to others” complicated: The marketplace in which you rent your time is double-sided. YOU get to (or at least should IMO) choose who you want to work for as much as the other person gets to hire you. We accept opportunities to work in organizations or not. While it might feel right now that your boss holds all the power to decide who the Future You can be, they don’t. YOU get to choose too.

When I’m talking to people about these concepts, I get a myriad of reactions. One discussion had the person interviewing asking me if I was a Marxist. Most people have a mild panic attack because once you start unpacking this idea, the ramifications begin to get very big and intertwined. I have a hunch that it’s the enormity of untangling the implications that stop most people from doing anything about the situation. I get why. 

But if you’re still reading it’s because I hope you’re wondering where you should start thinking about the Future You.

I can’t give you all the answers in one article. My team and I just brainstormed over seven months of concepts to share on the weekly LIVE! with Joanna show. But here’s a place to start.

Step 1: You are promoted! 

Yes! I just gave you a promotion. You are now the Product Marketing lead for the product known as “Future You.” Congratulations! Your pay? I expect that the person who buys the Future You will be compensating you in all the ways you wish to be compensated – monetarily and otherwise.

Step 2: Understand your job.

I went out and got some help from Matylda Chmielewska who described the day to day of a Product Marketing Manager as the following.

“Depending on your industry and the type of product you market, the exact responsibilities may change, but here’s what your typical day may consist of if you’re a Product Marketing Manager:

  • communicating product changes to your customers in an understandable way;
  • developing a product strategy and keeping the balance between your team’s vision for the product and the needs of the customers;
  • preparing the pricing strategy and deciding on your product’s positioning;
  • going through a list of most requested features;
  • conducting customers’ interviews that will help you see their motivation to use the product.

There are also some crucial questions you should know the answers to as a product marketing manager:

  • How will this new feature influence the product’s growth?
  • What are the primary product’s bottlenecks and customer pain-points?
  • What would be the best way to launch new features?

These questions will not only help you effectively market the product but can also influence how it unwraps and give your users what they genuinely want and need.”

Let me translate how this manifests into Product Marketing You. Let’s talk about the job of “product marketer” first:

  1. “Communicating product changes to your customers in an understandable way” – becomes – Communicating what you’ve learned (product changes) to the people “renting” my time (customers).
  2. “Developing a product strategy and keeping the balance between your team’s vision for the product and the needs of the customers” – becomes – Developing a career strategy for yourself that keeps the balance between your vision for you and what your organization needs and your boss’s vision for you.
  3. “Preparing the pricing strategy and deciding on your product’s positioning.” – becomes – Being strategic about your monetary and non-monetary compensation while also choosing the best strategy to make it easy for decision-makers to say yes to this strategy.
  4. “Going through a list of most requested features.” – becomes – Going through all the things asked of me and identifying the strategic priorities and communicating them.
  5. “Conducting customers’ interviews that will help you see their motivation to use the product.” – becomes – Understanding what the people who “rent” your time need from you in the future – building a Future You strategy that others will want on their team.

Curious about how to think about the Future You? Matylda’s product questions are SPOT on if you swap out the product for you:

  • How will this new feature influence the product’s growth? – Will the new skill or learning (feature) help me in my growth?
  • What are the primary product’s bottlenecks and customer pain-points? – Are there any bottlenecks or pain points for the people who “rent” my time?
  • What would be the best way to launch new features? – What is the best way to teach others about my new abilities and additional potential?

Step 3: Start doing your job.

If you take ownership of the Future You, then you get to decide:

  • What the product is and all the abilities it should have.
  • How people can buy your time and, frankly, how much people should pay for it.
  • And probably most importantly, what adventure this Future You is going to go on.  

When you’re clear about who you are, why you’re fantastic, and what you want, it’s easier for others to say yes to the Future you.

Or not.

It’s your choice. Remember how I said we work in a double-sided marketplace? It means you can tell me no. I don’t want that job. 

You could rent someone else time to do that job for you; this FYI is a lot of what I do for people. Or you can choose to do nothing. This career is your adventure. An adventure YOU get to choose.

And yes, as before. This concept of Future You also applies if you’re leading a team. Want to learn about how to think about your team? Just click over here.