10 Jun What is This Pen Worth?
What is this pen worth? It is made of shiny metal and puts a nice line of ink on paper when used to write. Its value depends on its story.
What if I told you there was some writing on the side? That inscription says Venetian/Palazzo Las Vegas and it came from a tray of a dozen identical pens on a conference table in a meeting room. With nothing to set it apart, it became my pen by pure chance. Its value equals what I paid for it. Nothing beyond its ability to put ink on paper.
But, what if I told you the writing on the side said Property of the U.S. Government/NASA and it came from a box of 100 pens at Johnson Space Center? That box was purchased by NASA for space shuttle crews to use during missions. It was left over when the shuttle program was canceled. What is it worth?
Anyone can purchase online for $50 an official Fisher AG-7 Space Pen just like those used in orbit. But, my pen is not just any Fisher Space Pen, it has a story. It may have come from a box of like pens, but it is a special box that was purchased by a special organization for very special work. Now that pen is not worth just $50. It might be worth $100, $500 or more to a collector searching eBay for the perfect find. Yes, it puts ink on paper. But, it is much more than just another ballpoint pen, right?
Now, what if I told you my pen was a model AG-7 Fisher Space Pen. It is just like those used every day on the International Space Station. It is just like those used on the space shuttle. But, this pen was a gift.
What if I told you this pen was a gift given to me by a man named John Young? Young went to the moon twice, landed once. He spent more than a day there. He and Charlie Duke delighted people on Earth with the live TV of them driving their “moon buggy” around, kicking up dirt and nearly doing wheelies. They collected hundreds of pounds of moon rocks, a few of which are opened every few years for new study. The rocks have been kept sealed since he picked them up so scientists can take advantage of new equipment and capabilities that were not available when he first returned to Earth.
What if I told you I saw Young at the annual meeting of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston where scientists were announcing new knowledge that came all these years later from some of his rocks? I remarked to him that I was happy to see he was still using the Fisher Space Pen. It is excellent at putting ink on paper.
What if I told you he said to me, “Yep, I got it out of my drawer to make some notes about these rocks. I used it on the moon to make a note of where I found them and now I thought I’d use it again to note where they ended up. Here, you can have it.”
Whoa! Now what is the value of that standard model AG-7 pen, which retails for $50 and is good at putting ink on paper? I chose it to be my pen because it was unlike any other. It was uniquely qualified. It had a remarkable story. There is no box of identical pens anywhere. It would be priceless!
I wish the story was true. It is not. But the point of the story of the value of that pen is a truth that affects the life and career of every person.
Do you want to move up, ahead or on? Do you want to be hired? Do you want to be chosen? Do you want to be more than just another identical tool in a box of identical models?
What is YOUR story? How do YOU provide value and set yourself apart? What skills, experience, vision, personality and brainpower make your story unique? There is no other YOU. There are identical tools – but you do NOT have to be an identical model. It is up to you to make your value known, to stand up and stand out.