The STEM to Business Manifesto

201603-houston-downtownLarge companies are larger today than they’ve ever been. They dominate the global economy.

Your financial health is tied to the performance of large companies, whether you work for one or not. I built this site to help you, and me, learn more about

  • How business are built,
  • Why they work the way they do, and
  • How we can succeed in a complex economy.

Today, having marketable skills isn’t enough. You need to know how your skills support the business. You need to know why decisions are made the way they are. You need to know how to refine your skills to stay ahead of the curve.

The global economy is complex and opaque

The global financial crisis taught us about the notion of financialization:

Financialization describes an economic system or process that attempts to reduce all value that is exchanged…into a financial instrument.

Companies are no longer just companies. They are also investments. Increasingly, the economy itself is built around the investment potential of these companies. That’s where shareholders come in.

Large publicly-traded companies are beholden to their shareholders. Management teams are paid to preserve the stock price, since the stock price determines the company’s value as an investment.

Some publicly-traded companies go further and pay cash directly to shareholders. Reckless companies threaten their own solvency to ensure these payouts. Without satisfied shareholders, these companies become much less valuable, and management doesn’t get paid.

Activist investors are sufficiently angry about low returns that they try to transform the companies they invest in. Sometimes it’s pushing for an acquisition or a divestiture. Sometimes it’s returning more cash to shareholders. Sometimes it’s replacing one management team with another.

We live in a world where what a company sells, and what customers they sell to, are less important than whether that company is more valuable this quarter than it was the previous quarter.

What can we do?

In our case, ignorance isn’t bliss. The better we understand how large companies support the broader economy, the better we can position ourselves for professional success. What must we learn to succeed?

  • How to speak the language. People use arcane language to describe business and the economy. That’s part of the reason these topics seem so complex. Learning the language is half the battle in understanding why companies do what they do.
  • How to sell your skills. We have an incredibly valuable collection of skills we can use to support any business. We limit ourselves by viewing our strengths too narrowly. If we learn how to sell the skills we have, management will trust us to take on larger roles.
  • How to fill in the gaps. We don’t know everything. But of all the things we can learn, what’s the most important? Prioritizing our development is one key to capturing a dream career.

Call to action

It’s up to us to remove unnecessary complexity. We need to learn what separates strong businesses from weak ones. We need to learn all the ways we make businesses more valuable. Our livelihoods depend on it.

Join me here at STEM to Business. Sign up for my twice monthly newsletter. I’ll teach you about finance, marketing, and sales. I’ll show you how to use your technical strengths to succeed in business. Together, we can build the careers we know we deserve.

 

I wrote this post, in part, to meet my requirements for day 1 of the Blog Like a Pro Challenge.

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