Several years ago, I was working with efficiency expert Maynard Rolston. While Maynard's main strategy is helping you get organized and working from a clean desk, I've learned so much more about business from him over the years. Maynard's question to me that day was, "What's your hourly rate?"

Since I was working inside a company and paid a salary, I told him I didn't have one. Maybe not a surprising answer if you are in the same situation.

He reminded me, however, that to my employers, I definitely had an hourly cost. Moreover, he said it was important to think about my hourly rate as a multiple of 2 to 4 times my hourly cost. This was the value I needed to be creating for the business.

His pointed question prompted me recall a strategy consultant who I'd worked with at a peer level when his consulting organization was active in our business. One night, somebody on his team left a laptop wide open with a spreadsheet showing all the consultants' daily rates. Using his rate as a very large benchmark to determine my hourly value target, I now had a much better sense of what I should be contributing with each hour of my time.

With an hourly rate now in mind, it became much easier to make strategic decisions about:

  • Projects where my expertise was best used. Suddenly big group drilldown meetings on highly technical details of our business which had no impact on customers became much easier to decline.
  • Quickly resolving department issues on trivial matters where it was clear we were "spending" thousands of dollars debating the impact of hundreds of dollars.
  • Delegating tasks I might enjoy doing (i.e., creating spreadsheets) that could easily be done by others.

Maynard's one question and its answer freed my time and attention to be focused on more strategic topics with less pressure to attend to everything coming my way.

So here are two to do's to act on:

  • If you're in a salaried position, calculate your hourly rate. Have the value you should be creating per hour in your mind constantly. Use this figure to strategically prioritize how you use your time.
  • If you struggle with clutter or staying organized, get Maynard to help you. At a minimum, order his book. Trust me. It will make a material difference in your productivity and the value you deliver to your clients, be they internal or external to your company. - Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at or call us at 816-509-5320 to see how we can help you focus your brand strategy to improve on  the things which really matter for your business.