Peters: It’s Good to be the Little Guy

Large providers can't supply the intimate experience that CUs and other small, local businesses can.

May 17, 2012
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Cheney: What is “Brand You?”

Peters: My father worked in finance as a middle manager at Baltimore Gas & Electric for 41 years. If you were lucky enough, as he was back in the ‘20s, to get a college degree, you went to work for AT&T, Ford Motor Co., or Baltimore Gas & Electronic with the full expectation that you’d either die at your desk or retire at age 65 with a livable pension.

Assuming you didn’t beat the heck out of a manager along the way, you were pretty much guaranteed a long ride.

Ain’t nobody guaranteed a long ride these days.

It’s an unstable world, and in an unstable world you need to stand for something. You can no longer be Badge No. 129 in the purchasing department of the Ford Motor Co. You have to learn and grow.

A lot of people have maliciously or inadvertently taken the wrong message from the “Brand You” thing. They think it’s about being selfish and they say, “Why would any boss want 23 “Brand Yous” working for him or her?”

My answer: It’s the boss’ great salvation. You want 23 people working for you who are determined to widen their networks, to grow, and to learn something new if not every day then every week.

This is something new relative to the last 60 years when many people worked in big companies. But if you look back to your grandfather’s day, he either ran a local insurance agency with six employees, or was a blacksmith another 70 years earlier, or ran an auto repair shop. He was a Brand You.

Subscribe to Credit Union MagazineThere are jillions of them today. What else would you call the electrician who’s coming tomorrow to deal with a wiring problem in my house? If he doesn’t show up or if he does a crappy job, he doesn’t get invited back.

He’s always living on the edge and having to learn new tricks to his trade. He’s a Brand You. It doesn’t require some bizarre genetic combination to be entrepreneurial.

Cheney: It’s self-preservation these days.

Peters: Exactly.

In the last of this three-part series, Peters details his next “quest to the unknown,” explains what has and hasn’t changed in the business world since he published “In Search of Excellence” 30 years ago—and reveals why he won’t be a nice guy when he addresses the America’s Credit Union Conference in June.

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