Have you ever thought of yourself as a product that you are developing to present to the market place? The other day I started thinking about myself in business terms.

I wondered about my development costs, my shelf life and my added value. I considered my competitive advantage, my packaging and my brand presence. I contemplated return on investment, marketing advantage and replacement costs.What about planned obsolescence, spoilage, mark-downs and damaged goods return policies? And finally, what about a lifetime warranty? Let's consider what we might do to increase our value in the marketplace.

Development Costs: Are you continuing to develop yourself, or did learning end when you left school? I once knew a fellow who claimed he could tell when a man died by looking at the titles in his personal library. "If the newest books he has were printed when he left college, the man is already dead intellectually," he told me. If you feel you know all you need to know, I suggest you don't know what you don't know.

Packaging: What does your package look like? If you are like the average North American, you could use a redo. Many men over 40 average a weight gain of 5 pounds a year. If we keep that rate up, we could be in big trouble by the time we hit 60. I have heard it said, "There are old people, and there are fat people, but I don't know any old fat people." If our packaging looks shopworn and pretty beat up, we better start doing some repackaging before it's too late. I like the slogan, "Exercise for life."

Competitive Advantage: Do you have any left? In the game of life, we need remain competitive. I believe our most meaningful competition in life is with ourselves. Keeping lists of ways to improve the "product" is awfully important. Why not keep working on your competitive advantage your entire life? My dad at 92 years old, uses his computer every day to keep current on a dozen topics. Even he is intent on staying competitive and interesting.

Return on Investment: We should constantly be making investments in ourselves. It is part of the packaging. But are we getting a return on our original investment in our education, our family and our faith? If not, we are wasting our investment. The best way to get a ROI is by continuing to invest and work on product enhancements.

Damaged Goods: Most damage to the goods is self-inflicted, or made worse by neglect of planned maintenance. Studies show that most bad health, whether physical, mental or spiritual, is caused from neglect, not external influences. What we put into this product of ours seems to do more damage than anything else.

Shelf Life: I believe attitude affects shelf life - even more than the physical packaging or development costs. Zig Ziglar often speaks of having "a checkup from the neck up." I love people with a great attitude. They have great shelf life in any organization. Unfortunately, those with a bad attitude are their own worst enemies. Nothing affects your altitude more than your attitude.

What about spoilage, damaged goods and return product policies? Do you offer a lifetime warranty? Would you take yourself back? You should have increased added value the older you get. Unfortunately, some of us get in the habit of over-promising and under-delivery - especially to our spouses and employees.

As you think of adding value, try to upgrade yourself so you speed up delivery, increase reliability, and maintain customer satisfaction.

How would you feel about offering a lifetime warranty on yourself to all you meet. It could read, "If I fail to meet your expectations during our lifetime, you can get a new one." If you are like me, it is best we didn't give that guarantee to our spouses or most of us would have been traded in for a replacement years ago.

Try practicing some of the business terms we talk about in marketing on yourself. If we do, we will be a product that delights the customer (our family, friends and business associates) and exceeds even our own high expectations.