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Michael Gardon

  • Writer's pictureMichael Gardon

Mapping Your Advantage: How to Put The Odds in Your Favor - The Break Issue 19

Updated: Mar 19

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The Expand Conference 2022 featuring yours truly as a keynote speaker. This conference is put on by my friend Tareka Wheeler, and its packed with amazing speakers. The focus this year is "Leveraging the Power of Focus" and I will be specifically discussing how to use investing principles to Break Your Career. It is November 18 and I hope to see you there.

What is Advantage Mapping?

One of the biggest lessons I learned as a trader is that great traders, gamblers and investors only play - or only bet big - when they have an advantage.

Sometimes they win, and sometimes they lose, but over the long term, if they adequately understand their advantage, they will win.

Taken to personal development, the key to investing in yourself is understanding where your competitive advantage lies, then using that advantage for growth.

It needs to be your life’s mission to understand your advantage, no matter how small, and press it.

Last week we talked about Circle of Competence and how I define that concept as basically knowing everywhere you have an advantage or provide value. To me, it’s not enough to define your CoC as what you know, because information is commoditized by the internet.

This week, I’m introducing my Advantage Mapping Strategy

Arguably, even more important than knowing your areas of advantage is knowing where you are at a disadvantage so you avoid playing games you are destined to lose.

How a small advantage can drive huge results

What does it look like to get 1% better every day? 1% doesn’t seem like a lot does it. But over the course of a year, 1% has massive results:

Look at the math for a second. 1% better every day gets you 37X your current self! It’s somewhat hard to comprehend because we are taught to view the world on a linear scale, but percentages work on an exponential scale.

You’re applying that 1% improvement to a larger and larger YOU. This is how compound interest is so powerful.

1% of 1000 is only 10, but 1% of 1,000,000 is 10,000. Keep stacking those gains and soon 1% is massive each and every year.

So, investing in yourself for growth is what we call a asymmetric risk/reward proposition - the upside is many multiples of the downside. In short, this is worth doing.

Where people get stuck

“Mike, I get it - choose yourself, invest in yourself, blah, blah, blah. But where do I start?”

This is the problem - in a world of infinite possibilities for us, CHOOSING where to focus is difficult.

You could go to a coding bootcamp, but where would this really get you?

You could learn photoshop, but are you going to create a real advantage from this?

You could become a yogi, but . . .

Now think about the natural talents, skills, abilities and interests that you have right now at this moment. Think about how much easier it is to lean into those and start your compounding from a solid base that you know will yield results instead of not knowing where to focus your time and attention for improvement.

What if you had a solid understanding of all of your advantages, and had free white space to think about how you might use that combination of knowledge, skills, abilities and aptitudes to break your work and come alive?

The Advantage Map is step 1.

Introducing the Advantage Map

I invite everyone to check out the map. PLEASE make a copy and try it yourself. Send all feedback to

In my work with startups, I’ve used the “Business Model Canvas” which is what I’ve based this map layout off of. The BMC is a way to think about and document how a new business will bring value to the world. In the Advantage Map, we want to fundamentally understand all of our unique sources of advantage, so that we can focus our attention NOT on acquiring what we don’t have (infinite possibilities), but rather figure out a smart way to:

  1. leverage our current advantage (knowledge, skills, abilities)

  2. create new opportunities by sticking to our unique advantages

  3. avoid activities where we are at a disadvantage

The map then can be used to create a plan for how you spend your time, what projects you pursue and what skills or abilities you choose to add. You will develop a new vocabulary and “story” for how you convey your value to stakeholders.

Sections of the Map

The map has 9 sections. I believe there are 8 true sources of advantage that a person has. You will assess your life in these 8 sections and then create a statement about how you are valuable in your next job, project, venture.

  1. Expertise - represents the knowledge and information, systems or processes that you can be considered an expert in. Sometimes its hard to think about your own expertise, but try to recall statements colleagues have made to you, or feedback from 1 on 1s as a starting point.

  2. Personality - represents your unique habits, traits and ways of thinking that make up how you view the world. Understanding this is key to understanding the other sources of advantage. Many personality surveys exist and we provide a few in the map.

  3. Key Activities - represents the things that you do on a day to day basis that you excel at doing or leading. This is not the knowledge you have. Examples can be working directly with people, or producing spreadsheets.

  4. Areas of Interest - What are you naturally interested in - not what other people are interested in. Don’t hold back here. Lean into your natural interests, even from childhood.

  5. Energy - what do you do, read, or consume that gives you energy? What makes you feel good and want to do more of? I’m leaning into 1 on 1 coaching because seeing a student’s progress gets me JACKED UP!

  6. Aptitude - what are you naturally good at that others struggle with? Get specific, and think about how you would describe this aptitude in story form.

  7. Action - how do you take action? Are you methodical, are you messy? A quick decider or a slow burn?

  8. Judgement - consistently demonstrated good judgement is a huge advantage, but it can take a long time to develop, so this section is more about your confidence in making decisions in certain areas.

  9. Advantage statement - this middle section serves as a way for you to start thinking about combining attributes that stand out to you in the other 8 sections to help you form a narrative of your advantages.

Next steps

I’d love to hear from you on this concept, so drop me a line with your feedback. My intention is that the map leads to more confidence and intention in the direction your career takes by tipping the odds of success in your favor. In the weeks to come, I’ll be dissecting each section of the map and providing more detail on the sources of advantage as I see them.

So far the students who have completed this map have reported a better sense of understanding what value they bring and where they should spend their time instead of spinning their wheels on activities they won’t stick to. One student even decided to pursue an entirely different track than he started with when he first came to me. All because he discovered some advantages about himself, that he has a clearer path to applying to get where he ultimately wants to be.

See you again next week.

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What’s happening on the pod?

Joel Bein stopped by the podcast again to talk about "Career Hacking" and his new venture Careerhackers. Joel is a very thoughtful guest and he wanted to let all of you know about a free virtual event "Supercharge Your Career" happening on October 19 and 20. I look forward to seeing you there!

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