Today, even a 4.0 GPA isn’t enough to guarantee you success personally or professionally. Though important, the world’s most successful people didn’t have the best GPAs. There are other measurements that correlate with your long-term success better than the GPA alone. The real 4.0 that matters after college and in your career is your personal capital, intellectual capital, social capital and financial capital.
Personal capital is how well you know yourself. This includes your awareness of your strengths, weaknesses, purpose, passions, and interests. It also has to do with knowing what type of environments, motivators, and people you work well with and which ones you don’t. There aren’t many classes on college campuses that help you understand who you are and your employer simply may not care. So oftentimes, you have to explore these things outside of class and work on your own through personal development classes, coaching, and readings.
Intellectual capital is what you know. This includes your expertise in one or two subjects or skills. For some people this stems from their college major, but for most people it’s not. When you walk into any room, what subject would you feel comfortable speaking on in front of anyone for an hour? Or, what skill can you do well and replicate success more than the average person? So many college graduates graduate with majors and minors, but still lack intellectual capital. As professionals we start to develop skills related to our jobs, but the risk is getting great at what you hate. When you get great at something you hate, you attract more of it. Instead, you might as well focus on getting great at what you want to be great at. Whether you are a student or a professional, you have be intentional about the skills you want to develop and the subjects you want to master.
Social capital is who you know and who knows you. This includes your networks up, down, across, and out. How many people are listed in your cell phone who aren’t family, and who are older than you? Who can you call on when you need professional or personal advice? How many friends can you call on if you need helping moving? How many people are you connected with at different colleges, corporations, and organizations across the country? Your social capital can consist of mentors, alumni, seasoned professionals, parents’ friends, professors, counselors, coaches, and advisors, and peers committed to your personal greatness. It has very little to do with how many friends you have on Facebook. It’s all about who is committed to your personal and professional growth and development and vice versa.
Financial capital is who knows that you know what you know. Reread that—it’s a tricky one. When the right people know that you know a lot about a subject or can execute a skill that they need, that’s when financial opportunities flow. Financial capital grows at the intersection of your intellectual and social capital. Imagine that you are looking for a new job opportunity—which is also a financial opportunity—the interview process is all about building a relationship with the hiring manager, interviewers, and the company, and then convincing them that you are the most knowledgeable and skillful at solving the problem they are hiring for. Anyone who has strong social capital and knows people in their target company has an advantage because referrals are one of the top ways people get jobs. Also, those who can show through past performance that they are the best at what they do will have an advantage in the hiring process as well. While a salary is a great source of financial capital, its growth is oftentimes dictated by a corporate ladder that you must wait to advance up. When you think about your financial capital as the intersection of your intellectual and social capital, it empowers you because you are in full control of how your intellectual and social capitals grow. Financial capital comes in the form of job opportunities, investment opportunities, entrepreneurial opportunities, and access to capital.
While a 4.0 GPA may measure your book smarts, the 4.0 that really matters in life is about street smarts. How will you navigate this uncertain world ahead of us? Your life is your vehicle to design, drive, and maintain, and growing your 4 capitals will keep you in the driver’s seat so that you have the power and control to direct your life exactly where you want it to go.
Jullien “Purpose Finder” Gordon is a 4 time author, and career expert that has been featured in Forbes and Black Enterprise. Currently the founder and CEO of the Department of Motivated Vehicles, Jullien has spoken at 60+ colleges and universities nationwide, TEDx 3 times, and is a career coach/consultant to several corporate organizations, small businesses and entrepreneurs.