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A framework for your career

April 11, 2024
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I recently finished reading 8 Rules of Love by Jay Shetty. In it I read a story that resonated strongly with me. It is a simple and powerful story about love and life. It also got me thinking about how we can make career decisions more effectively. In this article I share the story (slightly modified) along with my reflections about it and how it applies to your career.

The story

A boy asked his father how much his life was worth. The father gave his son a red stone and told him to ask the local baker how much the stone was worth.

The baker looked at the stone and said, “this is an interesting looking stone kid. I will give you $2 for it.” The boy went back and told his father the stone was worth $2. The father then asked the boy to ask the local antique dealer how much the stone was worth.

The dealer looked at the stone and said, “This is no stone. It's a ruby! A rather weird one though…I will give you $200 for it.” The boy went back to his father and told him the ruby was worth $200. The father finally asked the boy to take the ruby to the local jeweler.

The jeweler put the ruby under a microscope and after 15 minutes of examining it told the boy, “this is a very rare ruby. I had never seen anything like it before. I will pay you $200,000 for it.” The boy ran back home excited and told his father the rare ruby was worth $200,000. The father told his son that the value of his life will depend on who he asks but ultimately he should always work to value himself the way a jeweler valued a precious ruby.

What it tells us about careers

Throughout your career, you will work for bakers. Companies that value you as a commodity since you are performing work most humans can do. For example, you might work at your school’s cafeteria washing dishes. Your employer won’t care if you are a Computer Science major or a Greek Philosophy major. They will only care about your ability to wash dishes effectively without complaining. Bakers are not necessarily bad (especially early in your career). They will teach you discipline and humility.

As your career develops, you will find antique dealers. These might be investment banks, consulting firms, multinationals, or well funded startups. They will pay you well, teach you a lot, and value you as a skilled professional. The farther along you are in your career, the more antique dealers you will find. It is tempting to work for a dealer forever, but who you really want to work for is a jeweler.

A jeweler is not looking to hire a smart software developer, product manager, consultant or MBA. A jeweler is looking to hire you. Maybe you are a Mexican venture capitalist like Fabiola Quinzaños who after getting her MBA at Stanford and working in the US was recruited by monashees to launch their Mexico office. Maybe you are Camila Escobar Corredor who was recruited to become CEO of Juan Valdez Café and shares her reflections on how she had (unknowingly) been preparing for that job her whole life in this podcast (start on minute 30). Or maybe you are a Colombian from Shakira’s hometown who is passionate about coaching and after spending 15 years as an operator, investor, and founder decided to launch Cocora to help founders and executives in LatAm achieve their potential by connecting them with the coaches who will help them transform.

A jeweler values your entire skillset, your life experience, network, passion, and character. You will add an incredible amount of value to a jeweler and the amount of fulfillment you will feel working for a jeweler will not compare to what you felt working for a dealer or a baker.

As your career develops, you want to find a jeweler. If you do not find it, you can always build it. Lastly, if you need help understanding your strengths, values, and purpose, our coaches are here to help ;)