Use leverage to multiply your output
Identify opportunities in your work and life to maximize your goal outcomes
(Sponsored) Want to pivot into tech?
Skillful is a 6-week cohort-based program that gives you the skills and connections you need for Strategy & Operations roles at top tech companies.
Our grads work in Business Operations, Product and Strategy at companies like Snap, DoorDash and Uber. Musings & Perspectives readers get 20% off of program tuition. Apply to Skillful today.
I came across some interesting advice recently:
Beginners should focus on execution — getting the reps in and putting in practice.
Intermediate folks focus on strategy — optimizing for certain outcomes by making intelligent decisions.
Experts focus on mindset — staying invested after consistently doing the right things.
Obviously, as you progress to the next stage, the prior one(s) should serve as a baseline.
Here’s how it applies to someone who wants to get more fit:
Execution — emphasize on not skipping workouts.
Strategy — consider doing better exercises and training smarter.
Mindset — once you’ve optimized your routine, keep doing it.
This article will look at being more strategic. Specifically, in your career and life.
One way to do this is by identifying opportunities for leverage.
In this article, I’ll be discussing how you can use leverage to multiply your output in your career and life.
“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world."
🕹️ What is leverage?
Leverage in most contexts refers to increasing your output/input ratio.
In physics, mechanical leverage amplifies an input force to provide a greater output.
In finance, leverage allows you to increase the potential return of an investment from a fixed amount of capital.
Practically, leverage comes down to an equation of two variables: Input & Output.
Input is usually time, money or energy.
Output is the outcome you desire. It could be income, impact, eyeballs… you get the point.
Leverage is built on the notion that small, well-focused actions can sometimes produce significant, enduring improvements if they are applied in the right place. Tacking a difficult problem is often a matter of seeing where the high leverage lies.
… A leverage point is where a small difference can make a large difference. Leverage points provide kernel ides and procedures for formulating solutions. Identifying leverage points helps us: create new courses of action, develop increased awareness of those things that may cause a difficult before there are any obvious signs of trouble and figure out what is causing a difficult.
— Alan C. McLucas
💁🏻♂️ How can you apply this?
To increase leverage, you have two options:
Maximize output, holding input constant (e.g how can I maximize return on a $100 investment)
Minimize input, holding output constant (e.g. what’s the least amount of effort I can put into a job to make $40,000 annually)
Both options apply to different people in different scenarios.
A young entrepreneur may ask herself “What’s the most amount of money I can make by investing $100,000?”
In contrast, a father of two may ask himself “How can I spend the most time with my kids and minimize hours worked, while maintaining this quality of life?”
Applying leverage in a corporate job
As I progress through the early-mid stage of my career, I’ve been thinking about how I can be more strategic. And how I can pick smarter bets and be more intentional in my work, rather than brute-force delivering as much as I can.
For illustrative purposes, here’s how I would think about leverage in a corporate job setting if I wanted to maximize impact.
Inputs: Time and energy are my inputs. Holding these constant ensures I don’t burn out.
Outputs: ‘Impact’ is the output I optimize for. Obviously, this variable will differ from company to company.
Here’s my interpretation of ‘Output’ could mean at a corporation:
Cost savings impacted
Adoption, Engagement, or Retention
User or Client Satisfaction
Views or Eyeballs
My goal could be to hold my input constant (e.g. work 55 hours a week max) and maximize the outputs listed above.
Here are some tactics I’d think about:
Seek projects with large impact or potential impact — this may be projects that touch a lot of revenue or are a key priority for the company.
Identify areas of opportunity with large growth potential, perhaps a space with a validated need that has not been scoped out yet.
Work with high-performers. Pick managers, partners, and individuals who have highly leveraged skills that complement yours.
Ensure you have a pulse on priorities and trends in the company so that you can identify areas to build momentum in.
Find leadership opportunities in a niche you believe in, that nobody else is seeing.
The common theme above is that all of these optimize for validated output, or potential future output.
This list also isn’t exhaustive. There are probably hundreds of other tactics out there you can incorporate.
Applying leverage in life
This section is dependent on what your goals are, so it may not be completely applicable.
Let’s say that my personal goals revolve around developing new relationships, learning new things, and making people happy.
Examples of leveraged activities:
Social media — the ability to reach large audiences, build community, and connect new people.
Meeting new people (friends, business contacts, and so forth…) — each new person introduced to your network creates a multiplier.
Reading & learning — knowledge builds on itself and allows you to pair different concepts together to create a compounding effect.
Writing online — putting insight in tangible form, and distributing to millions of people for free.
Creating music, playing an instrument — the potential to create joy for millions of people.
Cooking — cooking for one vs. cooking for five takes a similar amount of effort.
Understanding how to apply effective leverage in your life will ultimately depend on your own circumstances and goals.
This thought exercise can help you understand how to be more intentional and strategic in making highly leveraged decisions.
Think: What are your goals? What are the outputs that generate desired goal outcomes? What are your inputs?
Find A Position of Leverage (Naval Ravikant) by Eric Jorgenson
Leverage as a Mental Model by Shane Parrish
📈 Chart of the week
Here’s a fun one: what is the keyword volume on Google Search for social media platforms over time?
Appreciation & Support