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The 80/20 Rule Guarantees You a Pay Raise!

Kyle Eastham

Visitors: 199

Are you interested in getting a pay raise? I don't mean the standard three or four percent that, if you're lucky, keeps up with inflation. I mean a serious raise. Perhaps double or triple your current salary - or more?

You can get it. You don't even have to do anything illegal, unethical, or mildly annoying. Now, it won't happen overnight, and it will take some effort on your part. But if you're interested, let's continue.

First, let me tell you about Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist who discovered that about 20% of the people owned 80% of the wealth. Other people started looking at this phenomenon and realized that the 80/20 rule applies to many situations; 20% of the Realtors sell 80% of the homes, 20% of the fishermen catch 80% of the fish, 20% of your employees are responsible for 80% of your sales, 20% of your employees are also responsible for 80% of your personnel problems. (Let's hope they aren't the same 20%!)

Now, it's not always exactly 80%. It may be 78% or 81.4%. But time after time, a small percentage of the group has a disproportionate impact on the outcome. It's tempting to want fairness, to say, “Let's spread the wealth around so I can get my fair share. "

But it doesn't work that way. In fact, people have tried. The old Soviet Union didn't have much luck with trying to distribute wealth equally. Therefore, the real question is not, “How can I get my fair share?" The question you should ask is, “How do I get into the top 20%?"

Take a look at the people who are in the top 20% of the pay structure in their company or industry. They tend to earn three, four, or even ten times the salary that the lower paid employees earn. It doesn't matter if we're talking about sales reps, plumbers, government employees, engineers, or hotel employees. Most employees at the burger franchise may earn $16,000 to $35,000 per year. But there are other employees with titles like store manager, regional manager, director of human resources, or vice-president of marketing who make a lot more than $35,000. Some of those folks are earning well into six figures.

In a recent year, the average earnings for professional golfers was $800,000. But the average earnings for the top 20% of golfers the same year was $2.3 million! Though they earned almost three times as much as the other golfers, they didn't practice three times as long and didn't hit the ball three times further. In fact, they outperformed their competitors by only one to five percent. For example, a golfer who wins a three-day tournament by four strokes shoots about two percent better than the second place finisher. (4 shot victory divided by 200 total golf strokes equals two percent).

The highest paid employees aren't doing five times more work. They're not putting in five times as many hours. Now, they are very likely working harder than many other employees, and they're probably working a few more hours. But generally speaking, those top earners are doing two to eight percent more than the average employees. But they're doing it consistently, every week, for years.

They finish the degree. They go after the continuing education and training seminars. They volunteer to lead the new project at work. They stay a little later than other folks. They make a few more sales calls than their colleagues - every day. They get involved in the Chamber of Commerce and their professional association. And so they get noticed. They get a little more responsibility, and a promotion, and a pay raise. And then another one. Maybe they get noticed by another company who makes an offer they can't refuse. And what was a $30,000 sales rep who had a knack for teaching others becomes a $130,000 Director of Training ten years later.

You get to decide. Is it worth putting in an extra two percent, five percent, eight percent of effort to double or triple your salary? Can you see yourself making eight times your current salary? It's possible. That may require another step - rising to the top 20% of the top 20% - which is the top four percent. Do you think the top four percent of people in a given company or industry make a pretty good living? Of course they do. And with patience and persistence you can get there too! Are you going to be average and settle for that three percent raise - or are you going to get serious and fulfill your potential? It's up to you!

Kyle Eastham, the Black Belt Speaker, is a professional speaker and judo instructor who teaches people to be the very best - the Black Belts - in their industry. Author of the book Life is a Bowl of Choices. To inquire about Kyle speaking at your next event, go to or contact him at (405) 201-1350 or


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