Michael Dell could leave tomorrow and his company would do just fine.
Lee Raymond, retiring from ExxonMobil with $400 million, won’t affect the company much at all by leaving. (They might not even notice the missing cash…)
If Jeff Jarvis quit, though, all his readers and clients would notice. Immediately. He’s indispensable.
Before Tom Peters wrote The Brand Called You with Alan Webber at Fast Company, the idea that a single person would be much more than a convenient public face was considered a little nutty. Successful companies were big companies, big companies had assets and people were cogs.
Sure, there were the Lee Iacoccas and Victor Kiams and Frank Perdues, but generally, successful marketing and entrepreneurship was defined as building an enterprise bigger than you, an organization which made money while you slept, a company where you were, ahem, dispensable.
Five years later, it seems to have sort of snuck up on us. Now, there are tens of thousands of people out there where being "that" person is the career, is the business, is the next job. Not just micropreneurs and freelancers… but employees and experts and programmers as well.
What would it take to make yourself indispensable? Do you even want to be?