Some people in IT obviously earned good money, but how they earned it was unclear.
Top talent was often well paid, but not rich, while those who received millions in stock were often mediocre and seemed to be lucky to get free money because their company was acquired. An organized approach for using talent to attain wealth was lacking.
The disconnect between value and compensation was strange. Surely there were some companies that selected for value and compensated based on results.
Ascertaining compensation systems seemed difficult and was opaque. It looked like companies were too stupid to pay for valuable talent, or didn’t need to. Accordingly, the right move for talent was to take the modest pay while doing the least amount of work possible so they could either pursue personal interests for a high quality of life, or develop their own businesses on the side to increase income.
The social schemers were the first to crack the mystery open. Through their connections, they heard that certain companies paid a lot, so they applied to those companies and received higher income. They never learned why or which skills were deemed valuable. You can learn any topic thoroughly enough for an interview in a few months. It sure helps if you know what they consider valuable.
Most of us spent decades dickering over tens of thousands of dollars when we should have been shooting for hundreds of thousands. In many companies it was there on the table the whole time, just not clear to the uninitiated that it was available and what was needed to get it.
Businesses are stupid to not align what they consider valuable with their prospective workers. It’s an easy alignment. Workers are left having to sift for hints from vague signals and then go forward with blind faith to attain mastery of specific skills.
We left so much money on the table out of ignorance and toleration for corporate stupidity.