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Friday, November 25, 2011

If you cannot monetise your talent you are forced to change your path

In 2004, Dhiraj Rajaraman, at the age of 28,  left a consultancy firm Booz, Allen Hamiltaon,sold his house, to establish a data analytics company. Dhiraj raised a total 400,000 US $ from his friends, started a front end office in US, back end in Bangalore. No body gave him any business in the eight months.For four years, he did not even take his salary. 

Decision analytics talent ( ability to use the information to take decisions) was rare in 2002. When a new talent area emerges in the industry, there is no  ready-made 'market' for that talent for few years.Because there is no 'market', there is no 'money value' attached to that 'skill/talent'. More often than not, it is the person with that talent who has to change his skill-path because he cannot find a buyer who is willing to buy his skill/talent. Because of inadequate opportunities in monetisating the talent, when it was difficult to 'nurture' a talent, one was forced to change one's path.

In early days, one had to depend completely on the intermediary- the company - and the available skill market to monetise one's skill/talent. If the skill/talent was well ahead of its time, then another option was to become an entrepreneur, which was fraught with considerable risk. Since last decade, Internet and VC market, the two big drivers, have brought in huge opportunities to the talented individual.  

Due to internet, global world has become 'localised', which means a person with a narrow skill/talent can also find a 'buyer' for his focused skill and 'monetise' his skill. I know of several individuals who sell their 'skill/talent' by working from home at the time and rate at which they are comfortable. I know of 'researchers' who sell their 'research skills' on a project-to-project basis. I know of a company where 'spiritual' talent has been combined with some other skill to sell 'spirituality' to corporate world. 

But where this is not possible, another option exists: the market of 'venture capital' where funds are available to monetise ideas into marketable product. Venture capitalist ( or angel funders) step in and 'fund' the initial idea, like in the case of Dhiraj Rajaraman. Although this VC market is not as developed in India, as it is in USA, it is developing at a very fast clip. 

Today's talented individuals are more lucky than our forefathers. On the one hand, availability of internet opportunity has made it easier to find a buyer for our talent, while on the other hand, the availability of VC market has made it easier to convert that idea into a marketable product. However this has also meant that 'talented individuals' also should possess additional skills: the skill of using internet and the skill of understanding the business model . Later skill is necessary to convert idea into a marketable product. 

In other words, if you are a talented individual, the boundaries between working for a company ( corporate individual) and working for oneself ( as entrepreneur, freelancer or consultant) are becoming thinner and transparent  One cannot decide in advance that one will work only for a company or for oneself. If one's purpose is to identify and nurture a talent, one has to work anywhere; and with it one also has to learn these 'complementary' skills which were unnecessary in earlier days. 

For today's talented individuals, although their opportunities have multiplied, with it it has also become necessary to learn additional complementary skills ( such as the above skill of identifying business model) to exploit those opportunities. Are you ready to nurture your talent in today's world?



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