"The amount of money you make will always be in direct proportion to: number one, the demand for what you do; number two, your ability to do it; and number three, the difficulty of replacing you."

- Invaluable, page 27

I don’t know about you but I like things to be tangible, organized and measurable. I have a hard time with generalities and subtlety – how am I suppose to benchmark or compete against something I can’t evaluate with any level of certainty? Even in my reading choices, I find a lot of books that talk about theory, ideas and what needs to be done yet they don’t actually tell me how to go about getting it done. Then I came across the newest book by Dave Crenshaw, titled Invaluable. Crenshaw is also the author of The Myth of Multitasking, another book has made actionable in the past. Both Crenshaw’s books are actionable, showing us how to tangibly apply the ideas he discusses and make positive changes in our lives and careers. That’s what I especially loved about Invaluable…it taught me how to calculate my value. Actually calculate it, using math and spreadsheets and exercises…tangible, specific and measurable…YES!

Invaluable is told as a business fable, introducing us to Jason, a recent Intern-turned-Marketing-Assistant who feels like he’s not being valued for his contribution to the organization. His boss doesn’t appreciate the work he’s doing; she fails to acknowledge his success in one activity before demanding work on another task. He feels that with his education and experience, he’s entitled to greater responsibility and more important tasks in his role. On the other hand, his boss, Tracy, feels like she’s too busy with her own tasks and responsibilities to hand-hold Jason in his role and any additional coaching or mentoring is outside the realm of possibility due to the crushing pressures from her own workload. In Invaluable, Crenshaw shows us how these two people, in their individual roles, assess their job functions, their value to the organization and to each other.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

Not So Easily Replaced

"But the real question is, ‘Are you invaluable?’"
- Invaluable, page 123

How replaceable are you? I mean in your job – would it be easy for your boss or your organization to fill your role with someone who could perform your tasks or take on your responsibilities as well or better than you can? This is the fundamental lesson Crenshaw teaches us in Invaluable, how to become so valuable to our teams and our organizations that replacing you would be essentially detrimental to the success of the organization. He introduces us to his “Invaluable Score,” an indicator of market value in relation to position, used to quantify market value and identify factors that individuals can improve to make themselves Invaluable. (And once you’ve purchased this book, you’re entitled to a free light version of your personal Invaluable Score, see

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Allow for Passion

"Don’t get too discouraged.  When I did this exercise my actual value per hour was less than a third of what I thought I was worth."
- Invaluable, page 65

Ever calculated your hourly wage? Even when I was on salary, I spent some good time calculating my hourly wage and whether or not I felt like I was being paid fairly for what I perceived my value was to the organization paying me. Problem with this quick calculation is that I was only taking my annual salary and dividing it by the number of work hours in a standard year (2080 hours for those looking to do the calculation too, based on a 40 hour work week). This math didn’t take into consideration any overtime I did, work I did from home or time I spent thinking about work outside of regular work hours. It also didn’t take into consideration any time I took off from work, any socializing or non-work related activities I did during work hours (of which there weren’t many, of course! 😉 or time spent travelling to and from work where I did work-related tasks like calling in for conference calls. In Invaluable, Crenshaw takes his characters through this activity, making sure they take all these factors into consideration. And man! Were they surprised when they learned what their actual wage per hour was, for time spent in work-related activities. Go ahead…if you’re feeling brave…and use the following formula to calculate your own wage per hour actually spent working.

Step 1: Calculate the number of hours in a week where work “wins,” even if it’s only winning in your head (pages 61-62) – this is the number of hours you spend working each week.

Step 2: Take your Annual Salary ÷ 52 weeks in a year ÷ # hours working each week calculated from Step 1.

Result: Estimated Hourly Wage


Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Valuable Contribution

"I mean your actual value per hour and your productivity are connected. Some people pride themselves on how many hours they work, not realizing what they are really doing is spending time in activities that are just wasting money and time."
- Invaluable, page 65

Okay, so now that you know your estimated wage per hour, what’s the value of that in terms of contribution to your organization? Is your organization getting a good return on their investment for the dollars they’re spending on you each hour? And if you’re self-employed, are you seeing a positive impact to your bottom line, equal or greater to that calculated hourly wage? Crenshaw takes his characters through an exercise called the “Work Time Budgeter” (pages 57-59) to identify all the tasks and activities they engage in during a regular work day, week, and month and helps them quantify the time and value of each activity in terms of contribution to the organization.

Are they engaging in Most Valuable Activities (MVAs) where they’re using their greatest strengths and skills or is most of their time spent in Least Valuable Activities (LVAs) where their talents are being misused in non-efficient or non-effective areas? The result of this analysis was that Jason, our Intern-turned-Marketing-Assistant, was able to pass off some of his LVAs to the new Intern, freeing up his time to take on MVAs that his boss, Tracy, had identified as LVAs in her role. Jason felt that his talents and skills were making more valuable contributions to the organization and Tracy freed up her time to take on more strategic and tactical activities to which her talents were better suited.

Invaluable is an invaluable reference for those of us who like tangible, quantifiable ways to measure our value to organizations and the world around us. The concepts are clear and easy to understand and I felt empowered and motivated after calculating my own paltry hourly wage. I like to think my time is worth more than that and the value of my contributions makes a material difference in the success of those activities I engage in. I’m benchmarking today’s calculation against one I’m going to do a year from now.  The question is, how much will your hourly wage increase by if you make the same calculations?

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Lindsay Recknell

ABOUT Lindsay Recknell

Lindsay started her professional career as an accountant, moved on to HR and when she couldn't make up her mind on those two completely different career options choices, she focused on Entrepreneurship...
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