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Michael Gardon

  • Writer's pictureMichael Gardon

4 Questions To Unlock The Biggest Productivity Hack On Earth - The Break Issue 36

Updated: Mar 15

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How to "Stack" Your Advantages to Unlock Greatness

All productivity hacks are just noise.

Nothing comes even close to the output you get when you align who you are with what you do.


Alignment means becoming who you were meant to be (your purpose).

It’s deep, but it is really simple.

There’s only 4 big questions.

Discovering how to systematically answer the questions is the difficult part.

No one ever taught you how.

“Find your passion” isn’t good enough.

There’s no roadmap.

So, today I’m going to show you what the 4 big questions are, and how I answer them with clients.

I believe getting clarity here is a productivity superpower.

I’ve seen it time and time again. Do the hard work upfront and you set yourself up for a massively productive, fulfilled and balanced life.

So lets go.

The Advantage Stack

In my work I break down 8 sources of Advantage that anyone can uncover. With clients we go through each source and learn a lot about how the client can deliver value in the world. Most of the time the client has some sort of BREAK moment where they discover something brand new about themselves.

A bit later in the process, we start to “stack” these advantages. The Advantage Stack is the clients blueprint for how they can win whatever game they want to play next.

The above graphic shows how the sources of Advantage correlate to the big 4 questions we all must answer.

Question 1: What SHOULD I do?

Before you skip over this question, imagine you didn’t have your current career, and had no idea what to do for work. How would you figure it out?

In my program, we focus on the person’s Interests as a primary source of advantage for what they should do.

This isn’t pie in the sky “oh, I like yoga so I should go open a yoga studio.”

This is being introspective and open about the wide range of interests you may have, and how they could possibly fit to make your work-life more enjoyable.

Why? Because it’s easier to be good at something, and stick with it when you have a natural curiosity for it.

What can you learn from analyzing your interests?

  • Topic areas

  • Types of work

  • Types of people you want to work with

  • Industries

  • Types of companies

  • Roles

  • Functions

  • Tasks

Then we can layer in and combine observations from your expertise to design work that utilizes more of your talents.

Question 2: Why should I do it?

Author and thought leader Simon Sinek asks us to question our company’s ‘why’ in his book Start With Why .

We all need to understand our why at an individual level. But it’s such an abstract question if you don’t have a system for answering it.

So here’s how we do it with both logic and emotion.


My clients take personality assessments. We analyze the results, and those results hold the keys to who we are at a subconscious level and why we do the things we do.

Our personality helps us understand why we do things, why we care, why we act the way we do and why we perform well or poorly in certain situations.

We organize the findings and connect them to our what.


Next we tap into the what and how it gives us energy. You can’t expect to stick with anything very long if it drains you. Energy is the key to your why, and gives you clues about how you can go about working on your interests.

For example, I’m interested in entrepreneurship. I have to work for myself, but the “process” side of things drains me of energy. So I have a hard time being a “solopreneur”. I get energy from being creative, quickly starting, building momentum but I need a team to help execute the details so I can continue to build energy for the creative side.

Combining your Personality Advantage and your Energy Advantage gives you your why. It is your edge.

Question 3: How will I do it?

So you have an interest area targeted (your What), you’ve tapped into your personality and your energy advantages to understand your Why, buy how will you get there?

In the How we are trying to answer “What do I need to have in order to believe I can be successful?”

It makes no sense to execute on a plan where you have no advantage. So, the next step I do with my clients is stack our execution advantages: Expertise, Aptitude, Support to figure out the strategies and tactics we will use.


What skills and knowledge do you have that you can leverage to build your What?

Examples include:

  • Sales and marketing skills

  • Certifications

  • Personal training credentials

  • Industry knowledge

Anything that could help you execute on your vision. It is also very helpful to understand what expertise you are lacking (that is needed) so you can learn it or get support.


What are you just naturally good at that will help you create an advantage. This is subtly different from Expertise.


  • Good with people

  • Great writer

  • Can make cold calls

  • No fear of rejection

  • Math

  • Guitar


Do you have the right people and resources to build or transition your What? The biggest divergence between successful and unsuccessful career **BREAKERS** I’ve seen is in this area. You need the support of your friends and family. They need to be on this journey with you and tied into your Why.

You need mentors, coaches and other support for the skills or expertise that you need but lack.

I’ve seen highly motivated executives with all the resources in the world slink back into their bad job because they didn’t have the buy in of their support system.

Question 4: When will I do it?

When is the final question. The answer is largely a function of you Learning Advantage and your Decision Making Advantage (how fast you can make decisions).

In my work with clients we pick apart what needs to be learned and how the client learns to understand the risks and create a map to get there.

We also look at how the client makes decisions to create a realistic time frame.

For example - I’m a very slow decision maker. I like to experiment a lot, learn and then make decisions at the last minute. I always need extra time!

While the when is very dependent on the individual, one thing is for certain:

You will never get there if you don’t get started! Better to start and learn along the way than to overanalyze and never get moving.

See you next week!


3 ways I can help you:

1. Book a free Intro To Advantage Mapping coaching call . In this 30 minute, no obligation call, we'll get you executing on a high odds career path by leveraging your natural advantages and Circle of Competence.

2. Find your new job! Remote tech jobs curated for you. Follow me on Pallet .

3. Get in the Breaking Work conversation on Linkedin. Messages are open. Follow me here .

The Break Job Board

I teamed up with Pallet to create a curated job board for our community ! These jobs are tech focused, remote first opportunities. I’d love it if you followed. Maybe, just maybe you’ll find your next big opportunity here.

Here are a few featured opportunities:

Also, If you’re looking to support the community and have a job to post, you can do so by clicking the ‘ Post a Job’ button.

What’s happening on the pod?

Alexis Grant is founder & CEO of They Got Acquired , a media company that helps entrepreneurs sell online businesses.

Previously, she was EVP of Content at The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance media brand, where she worked alongside the founder as the third employee to scale the company’s content operations. She also founded The Write Life, an online community for writers she sold in 2021.

Lexi began her career as a reporter at the Houston Chronicle and U.S. News & World Report, before growing a boutique content marketing agency, which was acquired by The Penny Hoarder in 2015. She lives with husband and two young kids in Harpers Ferry, WV.

You made it to the end! Hopefully you learned something about breaking your career today! If so, please share this with someone you care about.

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