In the financial world, leverage can sometimes take on a negative connotation. Those organizations that overextended themselves and borrowed too much in the hopes that their huge investments would pan out sometimes saw their bet fall flat.

Leveraging a business with a loan though is much different than leveraging yourself with skills.

If you take out a loan for an influx of cash to get a business going, you could use it to innovate, create jobs, or build new infrastructure. These are all great uses only if the business provides something of use where it can pay back the loan. Nothing made of use, no funds to pay the loan back. High future reward and high future risk.

The company that produced typewriters knows that very few people still use them today. Leveraging for more machines to build them would be foolish. Yet we see this happen regularly.

(Quick personal note, nearly 30 years ago I started writing on my mom’s typewriter, and while slower and much less efficient, there is something really cool about it.)

Leveraging yourself with skills, however, is different. We live in a world where you don’t need to go to an accredited college in order to learn skills. Just go to YouTube. Or CreativeLive, or Skillshare. Any of these platforms, and many others, can teach you how to do things.

The reward here is the same as the company that borrows. It’s long term. That coding that you learned today may not actually be able to generate any type of measurable value for some time.

The difference though is that the risk here is not in the long term, but in the short. Why spend two hours on something now that I have no idea if I’m going to use down the road?

Problem is, at one time or another, we all become the typewriter company. And while we may not know specifically what we need to know, wouldn’t it be nice to build a few different paths before you realized it was too late?

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