Ever since reading their book Rework back in 2010 book, I’ve had mixed feelings about Fried and Hansson’s proposal to encourage the concept of by-products – the resale of original product residual.
On the surface, the concept of identifying and selling a by-product as a means to either make “additional millions” or to gain increased exposure appears to be a useful (and a potentially lucrative) idea. However, what Fried and Hansson fail to distinguish, discuss or offer details on are the different aspects of by-product sale and use – say selling manufacturing waste (by-product) as compared to offering a truly ecological and prudent by-product (services, skills, re-vitalized manufacturing, etc.),
The term “by-product” was first introduced in 1857 and is currently defined as:
- something produced in a usually industrial or biological process in addition to the principal product;
- a secondary and sometimes unexpected or unintended result
For years, the sale of by-products from industrial waste, manufacturing sludge, and biological gunk have created and presented numerous health and ecological challenges. The adverse impact on society of these by-products – especially within the U.S. – can be observed in the inclusion of such by-products within our daily lives that unknowingly impact us. Some of these by products include:
SOY LECITHIN – a soy by-product that comes from sludge left after crude soy oil goes through a “degumming” process. It is a waste product containing solvents and pesticides and has a consistency ranging from a gummy fluid to a plastic solid. Before being bleached to a more appealing light yellow, the color of lecithin ranges from a dirty tan to reddish brown. The hexane extraction process commonly used in soybean oil manufacture today yields less lecithin than the older ethanol-benzene process, but produces a more marketable lecithin with better color, reduced odor and less bitter flavor.
Historian William Shurtleff reports that the expansion of the soybean crushing and soy oil refining industries in Europe after 1908 led to a problem disposing of the increasing amounts of fermenting, foul-smelling sludge. German companies then decided to vacuum dry the sludge, patent the process and sell it as “soybean lecithin.” Scientists hired to find some use for the substance cooked up more than a thousand new uses by 1939.
Shurtleff, William and Aoyagi, Akiko. What Is Lecithin? Chapters 1-6 from History of Soy Lecithin. InSoyfoods: Past, Present and Future. Unpublished manuscript, (Lafayette, CA, Soyfoods Center, 1981).
XANTHAN GUM –a strain of bacteria used during the fermentation process, Xanthomonas campestris. X. campestris is the same bacterium responsible for causing black rot to form on broccoli, cauliflower and other leafy vegetables. The bacteria form a slimy substance which acts as a natural stabilizer and is used in foods as a gelling agent and thickener.
FLUORIDE – a pollutant (and by-product) of copper, iron and aluminum manufacturing. The problem of how to legally dispose of fluoride was solved in the 1930’s when a study (funded by one of the country’s largest aluminum companies) concluded that fluoride prevented tooth decay. A successful public relations effort, helped along with some cooperative government cronies, resulted in the good news going out: this miracle chemical, when added to water supplies, will give everyone healthy teeth and brighter smiles.
While many diligently work to redirect (or repurpose) certain by-products, much still needs to be undertaken…
If one, however, considers the second definition for by-product – a secondary and sometimes unexpected or unintended result – one might be inclined to agree with Fried and Hansson who encourage the evaluation of every aspect of one’s business…and further state that “When you make something you make something else. Everything has a by-product. Observant and creative entrepreneurs spot these by-products and see opportunities.”
While pondering and considering this blog, I reflected on two observations:
- My attitude (rage) toward the sale (and unsuspecting intrusiveness) of harmful industrial and manufacturing by-products; and
- Whether the term and concept “by-product” might be adjusted to reflect a more powerful and useful explanation or interpretation?
While I felt morally obligated to address the first issue, I did not want my blog to focus primarily on this issue or become a rant already highly volleyed. I, instead, wanted my writings to be more about US – service providers, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and individuals. I, therefore, wondered how WE might be able to apply this concept of “by-product” or how the term might be slightly altered (while still maintaining the original intent) – to truly convey my message. My research brought me to this comment:
Richard Moore · Azusa Pacific University
When reading the Bible in 2 Timothy 1:7 about the Spirit God’s given His disciples, the commentary remarked about the “by-product” of the Holy Spirit living in those who believe in Jesus Christ.
We as human spirits operating on planet earth are born with certain inalienable traits and abilities. As we travel along life’s path, we engage and hone those traits and abilities…and acquire additional ones which are converted into skills and talents. These traits, abilities, skills and talents are the elements (or by-products) that make up who we (the product) are.
In my business, I encounter people who are truly amazing. Oftentimes, they are unable to recognize or even unwilling to acknowledge their traits, abilities, skills and talents – their “by-products.” They frequently put effort into simply aligning who they are (and want to be) with a job description, a current market trend or another’s expectation.
As individuals, entrepreneurs or service providers…each of us (and what we create) embodies the entire collection of who we are and what we’ve added or accomplished across our lives (product and by-product). When I meet with new and potential clients, I encourage them to:
- Dig deep to explore and expose everything they do or have done;
- Clearly identify and bring clarity to those things they’ve done and/or love doing over the span of their life;
- Recognize, explore, package and promote – repurpose – those interests, skills and talents (by-products) – as they can be very lucrative and life changing – especially during tight economic times; and
- Be cautious of discounting anything – every past lesson, job encounter, life experience and more could hold potential and opportunities
So, with my slight alteration to the statement presented in their book…
Remember…once you recognize, honor, and bring forth who you are (product and by-product) …you can become and do anything. Find yourself, package yourself, and market the whole you. There’s joy (and money) to be found (and made) everywhere.
© 2013 EMCarlock
The Write Resources, LLC™ – www.the-write-resources.com
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