Imagine two millionaires in a room and assume that their net worth was exactly $1 million including all investments, estates and assets. Neither person had anything hidden and both were happily married. The only difference between the two was their age. One millionaire was 65 years old while the other was 30. Looking outside of their balance sheets, is one worth more than the other?
Because of the idea of human capital, the 30 year old may be worth more than the retirement age person because the young millionaire has many more years left in their life to increase the value of their first million. Human capital is our personal ability to increase our wealth, and although wealth isn't just measured in dollar signs, we'll focus on financial wealth today. Are you wondering how to increase your human capital? Here are a few ways.
There are a lot of smart people writing about how the value of a college education may be less than it was, even one generation ago, but that may not be true. Education not only formally prepares us to work in advanced jobs, it also exercises our minds and allows us to hold on to our ability to continue learning. The brain, like the heart, needs exercise and that comes from education.
Be Well Rounded
Are you an architect who only knows architecture, a lawyer who doesn't know much more than the law or a carpenter who can only build? That's dangerous in an economy that wiped out an unprecedented amount of workers in the real estate and financial services industry in less than two years. Learn a new position in your current job or study an entirely new field.
Volunteering not only paints a picture of you as somebody who is passionate, but also as someone who is seen as trustworthy. Volunteering also increases your exposure to other people making your professional network larger. With the busy lifestyles that so many professionals lead, meeting people has become exceedingly difficult.
People who write about their field of work gain credibility as an expert. You could publish your work in journals, professional blogs or newspapers looking to offer advice to your readers. A well written article providing valuable information that isn't common knowledge will increase your network as people see you as an expert. It may take a lot of time if writing isn't your forte, but maybe writing is one of those new skills to learn in your journey to becoming more well rounded.
Most careers have some degree of salesmanship where public speaking skills increase your chances of getting ahead. Learning to speak confidently, intelligently and in a way that makes people feel comfortable when they're around you is a key to the next step on your career ladder.
Your job may not require you to make formal presentations or speak to large groups of people, but every job requires speaking to others and that is one of the best skills any career person can cultivate.
As we learned with the story of the two millionaires, the longer you wait to get started, the more your human capital decreases. Time is something you can't control, and as you age you'll become even busier so hiding behind your business isn't going to get you to your goal. Start today.
Along with these ideas, remember to take time to enjoy life, make healthy choices and put family first. We can't work forever, but taking time to enjoy life recharges you as you continue to raise your human capital.