Recommended Sunday reading for 11.9.2014:

1. American Author and Business Executive Eden Collinsworth has a great piece up on Linkedin wherein she recounts a point in the mid-1980s that she had to navigate a very tricky interpersonal situation in a foreign country. I won’t spoil the details, but the situation itself was shocking and the way she responded was savvy. I’m recommending this one because of the solid, common-sense insights at the end and because this piece served as a reminder that it’s always critical to understand how you’re perceived by your audience when crafting any communication. Check the full piece out here.

2. Burt Helm over at Inc recently wrote a detailed profile piece spotlighting a man named Gabriel Bristol that went from being homeless to becoming the CEO of a call center with over 300 employee that will generate over $11 million dollars in revenues in 2014. Beyond the sheer inspiring nature of this man’s story, I’m recommending this piece because of a story Bristol learned about the valuation of work early in his career: In 90 minutes, he doubled his salary and got a spot bonus equivalent to more than 10% of his annual salary after presenting a counter-offer to his company. The lesson? While what you’re worth to your company is partially driven by the relative value you add to the bottom-line… it’s ultimately worth what you’re willing to work for and what the market will pay for your skills. To learn more about this lesson (and get a healthy dose of inspiration), read the full piece here.

3. Jacque Vilet writes about a challenge many organizations face when trying to reward their strongest individual contributors in a rock solid piece on Compensation Cafe here. As a practical matter, in most functional spaces an individual contributor can only add so much value… after which in order to continue to grow their careers they must frequently move into management roles wherein they have significant people and/or budgetary responsibilities. Ergo, carving out careers for your strongest individual contributors in cases where they aren’t suited to a people management track can be challenging; failing to do so can carry significant consequences in the form of attrition within operationally critical roles. The answer, as Vilet describes it, is to create duel career paths so that your strongest individual contributors continue to see a path upward via a technical track even if they lack the competencies and/or interests to become supervisors. Vilet points out that the technical leadership track is not for everyone not cut out for management: Turning a technical leadership role into a lifetime achievement award undermines the value of the track in a way and can needlessly add additional salary costs to your budget. But – done well – the dual career track is an excellent way to incentivize, recognize, and reward all of your top talent.