When I was a student in London, I had a part-time job working in a new-age bookshop near Camden Town. One day, Robert Plant, the lead singer for Led Zeppelin, came into the shop and walked up to the owner.
"What have you got that's good?", he asked.
After a few moments thought, the owner walked over to the shelves and handed him one of our most popular items - a subliminal "Abundance" tape that promised to 'condition your mind for wealth'. Plant looked at the tape in amusement.
"Actually," he said, "I think I've got that one covered. What else have you got?"
For the rest of us, here's some thoughts....
Your ability to make money is intimately linked to your ability to add, create, and provide value, whether to a person, a project, a company, or an enterprise. Add more value, (providing that value is recognised), and you have the potential to make more money.
In fact, I'll say it even more clearly:
Money is one of the rewards you get for adding value to the lives of others.
There are essentially four keys to making more money by adding more value:
The more unique the value you provide, the more you will be able to exchange it for. While there are tens of thousands of actors in Hollywood, there are only about six who can reliably put "bums on seats" regardless of the movie that they're in. That's why there are only about six actors who are paid in excess of $20,000,000 a movie.
The more people you add value to, the more money you get to make. Whatever you might think of Bill Gates and Microsoft, their billions of dollars in net worth is largely accounted for by the millions of people whose lives are impacted daily by the development of Windows and its competitive Operating Systems (including all of us reading this article!)
The more of a difference you make in the lives of others, the more money you can demand in return. Why does a doctor get paid more than a teacher? Because most people value their health above their education.
If a monk adds value in a forest but no-one sees what he has done, has he really added value?
In one sense he has, but unfortunately for our poor monk, it is only PERCEIVED value that can be exchanged for hard currency.
Here are a few simple ways you can begin to put these ideas to work in your own life:
1. Rate your current job and/or business on a scale from 1-10 in relation to each of the four keys listed above. Add up your score for an added value "snapshot".
Example: Selling life insurance
"Our product's not very unique, so I'll give myself a 2. I reach a few hundred people a year, so I'll give myself a 5 for scope. I've seen first-hand the impact a good life insurance policy can have on a family in crisis, so I'll take a 6 for that; however, most people people seem to view life insurance as a necessary evil, so I'll give myself a 3. My current score overall is a 16."
2. Brainstorm ways to increase your score by 10 points over the next month.
Example: Playing guitar
"Lots of people play guitar, but the more I work on developing my own unique sound (as opposed to just 'improving'), the more irreplaceable I become.
So far, only a few thousand people have heard my music. By uploading MP3 files to the internet, I can reach a far wider audience in a lot less time than I would just by playing clubs.
Also, while playing guitar might not be the obvious path to resolving the crisis in the middle east, Live 8 and other concerts like it have shown that music and musicians can make a difference - maybe some of my friends and I can put together a special track in aid of the people who are suffering as a result of the conflict. This might increase the number of people I can reach as well as increasing the impact of what I do.
And in terms of perception, it's the record companies I most need to recognise the value of what I have to offer. If I can get some of the industry people I know to write great things about me and why they think I'll do well, I can put together an even stronger package in pursuit of a new deal."
3. Take the next step - put the best of what you've learned into action.
Have fun, learn heaps, and remember to add value to everything you do!