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professional positions for professional pay  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22352
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Recently I posted three positions for wheaton labs. I outlined what sorts of things could be done and how the pay could get close to $100,000 per year and even exceed $100,000 per year in later years.

I think "professional pay" can be anything from about $30,000 per year to well past $100,000 per year.

As a software engineer working in missoula, I remember my pay started at $18,000 per year. In time I got that up to $24,000. And then I was offered $27,000 before I moved to the denver area and started a gig at $65,000 per year. After a year I started to focus my strategies to get beyond $100,000.

Eventually, I was being paid an embrassingly huge amount, and I was involved in setting the pay for others. Two peers might sit next to each other and one is paid triple what the other is paid. For good reason.

There are the people that are perfectly content to have a slower pace and collect a lower pay.

And, of course, 92% of the population wants $100,000 per year, but the maximum they actually provide is something that has about $18,000 of value. And they are utterly certain that their contribution is worth more than $100,000! I think these people want a contract that guarantees the $100,000 per year, and then 30 times a day they says "okay I did that, what do you want me to do now?" and in the end, I spend more time managing them than if I did the job myself.

But that is not what I think a professional is.

I do think it is possible to pay somebody $100,000 per year and by the end of the first year they would make sure that I have earned $200,000. But that would be rare.

Instead, I think this would be a lot like what salatin calls "fiefdoms". They would be in business for themselves. But by doing their business here, with other fiefdoms, the business would have a better chance of success.

And, yet, I am still willing to pay something to get each position off the ground.

But .... I think if somebody shows up and gets a PEP1 business going, they could bring in $80,000 to $120,000 the first year. Or, maybe they only bring in $20,000 the first year. So the key is to come up with a system that if a person does the work, they get the pay. And if they don't do the work, they don't get the pay.

I feel like most people will say "if you pay me $100,000 per year, I will do whatever you tell me to do." And a few will say "Here is my plan. You set me up with these three things, I think I can bring in $100,000 in the first year for myself, expand projects at the lab and put about $40,000 in your pocket." The latter is who I am looking for.

Maybe people need cash to get started. Maybe they need me to promote their stuff. Maybe they need access to equipment. Maybe they need a few bounty projects.

In time, I don't want an employee/employer relationship. I want a very good business relationship. Something that improves the quality of the other fiefdoms at the lab and puts some coin in my pocket (which will probably go to my projects at the lab).


 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hello Paul,

Of all your posts that we are at least in the "same book"on topic wise...on this subject we are on the same page and paragraph...

I have to deal with this very subject all the time on different projects, as I find way more folks claiming to be "professionals" in a given field, from timber framing and historical restoration, to the many different ranges of natural builders that think of themselves as "experts" (or at least highly proficient) and/or "professionals" within the field. I have been following along each of your posts, hoping to glean "your insight" on what defines an expert/professional, and what your expectations (in more detail) are for you projects.

Everything you have written about "Software Engineer" professionals is very true in the fields I have worked as well...Or at least in my view of it, as I often have to confront "contractors" that "think" a "pay scale" should be "guaranteed" and/or outside the parameters of what they actually can produce or the skills they actually "think" they have are capable of.

As an example, I can relate very easily, is the "value" and cost of a timber frame. From this I create the metric such as "square foot" cost/valuation. Then a matrix of can be extrapolated for each and every joint cut in the frame. From here we further break this down into "layout" (very critical) to "jointing." Each has a "compensation scale" that will allow the "Timberwright" whether very much a novice or an expert to be compensated according to what they..."produce," no more or less. There simply is not debate on what they "think" they should be paid...It is very clear according to what the "created" and contributed in. Of course there is more to this metric that further breaks down a project from "sales percentages" to daily administration governances, all the way to design fees...each "dipping into" the overall compensation package of the frame to its builders according to there given expertise, and ability to contribute...

....in the end, I spend more time managing them than if I did the job myself....


Can we repeat that again please...

All to often I have to be the "motivator" and "gopher" just to keep some folks actually doing the work "they said" they could do. It is more "herding cats" and "keeping on track" than it is actually them taking the initiative (and ownership) of not only the "work" but their role within the work...

So the key is to come up with a system that if a person does the work, they get the pay. And if they don't do the work, they don't get the pay.


And now folks...there is the proverbially rub of it all...

I have this debate all the time with my "professional" ...(alleged) Building Contractor/Remodeler colleges that insist there can't be a compensation scale (or metric) beyond T&M (aka time and material.) This is the only way they will work, and refuse to be held responsible for actual "production work" criteria for projects...Because of this, I have to often screen a great many people before getting to the ones that will accept...."accountability"...before..."compensation."

Part of my personal expertise and ongoing routine learning is keeping track of the different "pricing metrics" that exist in our field of arts and crafts that I work...from timber frame values/cost per board or square foot to the cost of historic lime mortar pointing of stone or brick per square metre. "Real" professionals (in my view) understand fully their given field and the "pricing metrics" as the current markets will support. So whether a dry laid Stone Mason setting traditional foundations or rock walls by the linear foot to traditional boat builders that will charge by the "volume of the vessel" plus per diem and vessel type value...Everything has a metric, and professionals understand what these are and work by them, and are held accountable by them as well, and not some arbitrary and nebulous factor as "T&M." Even many lawyers are moving away from their 15 minute billing profiles to set fees for "set services.

I feel like most people will say "if you pay me $100,000 per year, I will do whatever you tell me to do." And a few will say "Here is my plan. You set me up with these three things, I think I can bring in $100,000 in the first year for myself, expand projects at the lab and put about $40,000 in your pocket." The latter is who I am looking for.


And...absolutely the only one(s) to consider for hire. If someone is wanting to be "told what to do" then they are an "employee" and have no stake in the game, nor are they probably reflecting a level of "professionalism" of which you seek. If they actually are "professionals" within the "natural building arts" they should have a solid handle on a broad range of matrixes for value, cost and logistics for the "styles" of natural building they do. The more professional they are, the broader this range and the deeper their understand will (should??) be.

Maybe people need cash to get started. Maybe they need me to promote their stuff. Maybe they need access to equipment. Maybe they need a few bounty projects.


Hmmmm....

I think this will fall on a continuum of proficiency in their skill sets, and nature of a given project.

I think the "bounty project" is actually the only real criteria that is prerequisite for "real professionals" that should be attracted to this type of offer, and its great optinuity.

You are offering the "means, and materials" and they need to come with a complete range of skill sets to affect the "methodolgy" at a professional level...with both parties sharing in the compensation.

They (the professional) in my view should come with there own tools (other than rental tools that need not be owned typically) or they travel light and use minimalistic tooling, but have the skill sets to operate everything from heavy equipment to CAD modeling abilities, and can have thorough dialogue along the way on all these matters. Tooling is a reflection of professionalism in my view either through ownership and/or complete knowledge of there proper use, care and logistical application for a given task. As for compensation ("cash to get started") that is usually a "baseline" stipend with "full value compensation" only have production and realization of "bench marks." Compensation can also be reflected in "percentages of take" from things like work shops, sales of contracts for work sold outside the facility, and the related.

In time, I don't want an employee/employer relationship. I want a very good business relationship. Something that improves the quality of the other fiefdoms at the lab and puts some coin in my pocket (which will probably go to my projects at the lab).


I can see many reading this as "greed" and/or self promotion...I am fascinated by those personality types as they typically seem to want some form of "hand out" for doing "nothing" but breathing air, and have "good thoughts."

"Infrastructure" is a major commodity in the world of the building arts...whether teaching it, or selling the products of it, from historical restoration to workshops...It is all about "face time" and "infrastructure development." ...If one does not "own" infrastructure then they must "rent it" and/or share the profits of "brokerage" to those that own the infrastructure and are will to "invest" and take risk in adventures of like kind. In any case, finding an owner/broker that is willing to "compensate," share profits/evest, and "reinvest in more "signature projects" are a rare find...

I hope you find someone...and I hope they post here so we can all examine their credentials and abilities....which is another sign of a professional...the willingness to be "examined," in spectrum and detail.



 
Andrew Mateskon
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An "agent" or employee will always be tending towards 1) shirking 2) malfeasance or 3) misfeasance. It is difficult to find ones who stay away from all of those things. I like your approach in eliminating the employee-employer relationship. It isn't cheap to hire an employee, but it isn't cheap to attract the consummate professional either. It's good that y'all acknowledge the reality and necessity of putting up a little money to subsidize big projects. Entrepreneurialism is not necessarily fragile, but it needs friends in the form of angels, mentors, and collaborators. Good for you for taking some of those functions on. Keeping gathering spoons, and many will be attracted to gather with you.
 
Josh Ritchey
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I can 100% agree here and feel some of your pain. While I'm still in the employee position myself, I am in something of a managerial position. I'm convinced our schools have primarily created factory workers. If it's not the exact same, repetitive task, most of these people just can't and won't do ANYTHING without you directing them on every single task. It becomes very frustrating when they're smarter than you at the job and give you attitude when directing them.

I'm presently dealing with a brother-in-law living with me who is like this. Got mad because after a year and a half I finally asked him to start chipping in on utilities and buy his own food because of the financial stress of his parents also needing to move in. Not only was he offended that he should have to contribute something, but has not once stepped up to help do work around the house or in the yard. This is the kind of 25 yo that sits and watches you work, knowing you need help, but says, "you didn't ask me."

Where the heck did common sense and work ethic get to? I've never been able to go more than a day without working on something, computer or manual labor. Is work ethic genetic because my parents were never much for making me work, they were usually at work themselves while I was being a deadbeat kid/teenager. Then I learned how much I enjoyed working around my mom's farm as a kid.

Is work ethic genetic or cultural? Is a lack of it a mental disorder. (Genuinely curious as well.)
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22352
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I was thinking about this some more today.

I think that if I took on any of these three positions, I could bring in $200,000 for the project and pocket $100,000.

At the same time, I think that if a person comes and makes an attempt at one of these roles, but does poorly, then they would earn so little, that I could imagine that they would choose to no longer try to fill that role.

More still: I think that people that are really good would want to arrange a business plan rather than a salary. Whereas people that did not have the skill/gumption/etc. would want to be guaranteed a fat salary, without having to provide any guarantee of services performed.


 
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