Quick question: What is your main career/job right now before anything else?
(Hint: It’s probably not what you think.)
While you might be one of the lucky ones who actually guesses the answer to the above question correctly, most people won’t.
It’s a very odd statement to make, but the truth is that 99% of people don’t even realize what line of work they’re in.
That means there’s a pretty big chance that you too, dear reader, belong to that group who has an important career they don’t know about.
You might be asking “But what is this secret career of mine you keep blabbering about? How could you know better than me?”
And then I’d answer:
“You’re a small business owner. Didn’t you know?”
That’s right. You, kind sire (or sexy sirette), are the CEO of your own company. The only reason you might believe you are not is because nobody showed you yet.
We’d continue our little conversation with you asking in a slightly confused manner:
“What kind of company am I CEO of then?”
After which I’d gesture you to come closer and whisper conspiratorially:
“A company that sells something very, very precious. More precious than money itself.”
…which would seem ridiculous to you. Perhaps causing you to respond with a hint of annoyance in your voice:
“Yeah, yeah cut the crap already and tell me what I’m selling. I don’t have all the time in the world, you know.”
To which I’d reply with a smirk:
“You guessed it right, young grashopper.
You are a professional time merchant. And you are one of the best in the business right now.”
– “But how can I be one of the best if I don’t even know about it?”
… you’d wonder aloud.
“Because millions of people on this planet are doing what you do.
They are selling their valuable time in exchange for other people’s money.
The only problem is that because they don’t even know they’re doing it, they keep making stupid decisions that undermine the success of their business.
Now you on the other hand, have taken the red pill. You can’t un-know the fact that you are selling time anymore. Luckily, just knowing that will make you better at it than 99% of your competitors.”
The Truth About Your Boss
The first thing you need to realize is that you are not an employee and your boss is not your boss. You are an entrepreneur and your boss is simply a loyal customer you have a long-term relationship with.
That means that if you never give him what he wants and are rude or hard to work with, he may stop being your customer and buy time from someone else. Just like you’d stop buying food from the grocery store where they always yell racist slurs at you, don’t stock their shelves on time and the products are past expiry date.
On the other hand, while it’s important to deliver the best service you possible can to satisfy them, you must never forget that they are your customer and not your boss. If they become too annoying, unreasonably demanding or disrespectful, you can always fire them and find some new customers.
That’s right. You can fire your boss. Because (s)he is nothing but your “time consumer”. It’s no different from throwing someone out of your bar if they are causing trouble.
I’ve fired a couple of “bosses” before. They always hate it because it confronts them with the fact that people are actually free, bureaucracy is nothing but an imaginary construct in our minds and paper has no power over people.
In fact, they hate it even more to realize that nobody (including them) has any power or control over other people at all unless they wilfully choose to be controlled. (In which case it can be quite hot 😉 )
Don’t worry if they freak out when they tell you, try to tell you it’s not possible for you to do that, or start to make threats to keep in your place. Those are just symptoms of cognitive dissonance. Plus it’s understandable, you also wouldn’t like being banned from your favorite supermarket.
I’m not saying you should quit your job for no reason. I’m just saying:
Don’t like the way your “boss” treats you? Give them a gentle warning.
If they continue to behave in a manner you don’t appreciate, take them by their collar and belt, swing a couple of times and throw them out the front door. Uncle phil style.
Doing Job Interviews the Right Way
When it comes to job interviews, your mom might’ve told you to “dress for success”, but she was wrong.
Then you might’ve read somewhere that it’s best to prepare yourself for every possible question they might ask you. The writer of that article was also wrong.
Then some teacher in a course for job interviews success might’ve told you to keep in mind 3 strengths about your self and 3 so-called “weaknesses” that are actually positive traits in disguise (statements like “sometimes I’m a little perfectionistic about my work”). They were wrong too.
And why are they all wrong?
Because they all start with the idea that you need to impress your future employer as much as possible in order to convince them to hire you. Then, once the contract is signed, you can show up as your real self.
This is understandable from an employee mindset, but knowing that you are in fact, a business owner who sells time to other business owner, it seems a lot more stupid. Why?
Because when you’re doing a job interview, you are really just giving a sales pitch to a prospective customer for your time business. It’s all part of your marketing strategy.
An important concept in marketing is that you always “underpromise” and “overdeliver” to keep your customers happy.
This means that when you dress better than you plan to dress every single day during the job you are actually setting yourself up for “overpromising” and “underdelivering”. The exact opposite of what works well.
Either that, or your work days will be filled with the stress of trying to live up to an unrealistic image you presented in order to get the job.
When you start praising your work ethics into the heavens just to “get a foot into the door” you are the human equivalent of a fast food advertisements. A beautiful, mouth-watering picture made to lure people into buying a big fat slice of barely edible disappointment.
And when you prepare all the best answers in advance, you are that slick sales guy that convinces someone to buy something they’ll regret, never to return to his store again.
Really, just be yourself. Be authentic, be honest, be real. Maybe even keep some of your strengths hidden for now. Then you can really impress them after you got the job. Making them think “Wow, we really did a good deal with this one!” Always underpromise and overdeliver. ( And while we’re at it, you can apply that same advice to dating as well 😉 )
Would you really want to spend all your time working for someone who didn’t see the real you as fit for the job anyway? And if turns out that you weren’t actually a good fit for the job, wouldn’t you prefer to know that in advance?
Also, when doing job interviews, maybe you should be the one asking more questions to see if you want to take on this customer.
Find out exactly what they are looking for so you can figure out if you are the perfect person for them. Maybe someone else is better. No problem. But in case you are the perfect person for the job, at least now you can tell them that with full confidence. And you’ll mean it, which will make everything you say much more powerful and believable (since it’s true). Who wouldn’t hire someone that convinced they’ll do a good job?
And while you’re asking questions, make sure to get enough info to answer the most important question of all: Are they the kind of customers you would enjoy serving?
You should be much more worried about signing a contract that fills 40 hours of your week with unpleasant experience, than you should be worried about whether or not these people want you 😉
Name Your Price
In essence, your time merchant business operates just like any other business:
• You have something other people find valuable (in this case, your time).
• You deliver it to those people (your boss)
• They reward you with something else you find valuable (money).
This can either be a long-term contract (for example, selling them 8 hours of your time for 5 days every week) or a one time thing (selling them an afternoon or evening in exchange for a one time fee), but before you sign the deal, it’s important that you realize the true value of what you’re selling.
Imagine for a second you’re in the diamond business and you sell every diamond for 0.50 a piece. Sounds like a huge missed chance, right?
You’re just letting yourself get ripped off by other people who will then sell everything you gave them for much larger sums.
Don’t do the same with your time. Before you sell it to someone, make sure you educate yourself about how much it’s worth so that you can verify they are not ripping you off.
So what is your time worth?
Everyone knows that time is money, but how much money?
Well, that depends. It’s not linear and there’s a lot to keep into account.
Here’s some things to consider that can help you get a better idea where to set your initial price (which will still be subject to the law of supply and demand after the fact, so if other people tend to offer less than you’d like, you have to work on increasing your personal value to increase the demand.
- Opportunity cost:
Whenever you say yes to spending your time on one thing, you also say no to spending your time on all other things you can do with it. (Thank you, captain obvious 😉 ) It’s one thing to know this, it’s another to realize the full implications of this piece of knowledge.
If you sell your time to some guy who owns a clothing store for example, and you sell it for 24 hours a week, you really need to take a moment and consider how passionately you feel about helping other people sell their clothes compared to other things you are passionate about and how much you would like doing them.
This is a real example from my life. I used to feel okay doing this for about 9 bucks an hour until I realized that taking into consideration all the other, much more productive things I could possibly do with those 24 hours would probably raise my personal price for selling clothes to about 30 bucks/hour. Which of course clothing stores aren’t willing to pay.
So in short: Make a list of all the things you love to do that can create value for others, prioritize them and see where the description of this specific job falls on that list.
If it’s near the top, a low price can be sufficient because you’ll get a lot of non-monetary value from this work too. If it’s near the bottom of the list, you will need to ask a higher price for this to make it worth it. Which may not be offered.
There’s not a lot of skill required to place stickers on mayo jar.
That means that if you apply for the job in the mayofactory and tell the boss you want 50 bucks for every hour, they will hire someone else for 10 bucks. Why?
Because you’re replaceable by anyone or anything that has 2 arms and can mentally handle the routine.
If you’re replaceable by a monkey, a deaf person with no legs or a cat standing like a human. Your time is probably not worth a lot in the context of that job.
However, if you possess some kind of skill that’s quite rare or challenging to acquire, you gain a lot of leverage to raise your asking price.
If you’re the only person in the city who can do the specific job you’re doing as well as you, and your boss starts to freak out at the thought of you calling in sick on important dates, that’s an indicator demand is much higher than you thought. And you can probably ask a little more money in exchange for your time 😉
3. Your own monetary needs:
When you’re broke and in need of money, the value of your time on the market goes down significantly. If that weren’t true, 5 dollar blow jobs wouldn’t exist. (Do they exist? Not even sure, but you get the point 😉 )
However, if you already have enough money to cover your basic needs, the price of your time starts to increase exponentially.
Why? The more of your valuable time you sell, the less you have left to enjoy. And the more money you already have, the less you need. It can still be fun to make some more money, but to make it worth giving up more of your precious time, the return on investment has to be greater.
Before you let someone persuade you to put in extra hours of work, first see if:
a) You wouldn’t prefer to have the time rather than the money.
b) The extra hours are paid way more highly than your other hours.
Never just say yes to extra hours for the same amount of money just because they’re asking and you want to keep them happy. They will forever remember you as the kind of person who does that easily and they will ask you to do it again, expecting you’ll say yes.
Once you’re making enough to have a decent living, the only valuable reasons to still give 5 dollar blow jobs are:
a) You’re financially uneducated
b) You really, really love cock.
4. Flexibility of delivery date:
What time does the buyer expect you to hand over your time? If it’s on a fixed schedule, realize that you lose a lot of freedom which makes the opportunity cost very high, increasing the likelihood of the chance that 17 bucks an hour won’t cut it.
On the other hand, if the only thing that matters to your boss is the amount of time you put in. And you get to decide when you put it in (that’s what she said 😉 ) in accordance with the person paying you, it’s okay to sell your time for a lot less (you lose very little freedom in your life).
One of the reasons I applied for my last “real-ish” job was the fact that I got to choose my own hours as long as I let them know in advance. Otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. Never forget how important your freedom is. If you sell 38 hours of your time every week for the next 10 years to someone and they get to decide when you do the work you better ask them a lot of money. Because that’s going to determine how all your days go for a decade. They can literally tell you not to spend time with the people you love on moments that matter.
By doing this you are missing a shitload of time-specific opportunities, completely robbing you of the freedom to enjoy those without harming the relationship with your only customer.
That puts you in a very bad predicament that can make you feel like you’re cornered with your hands against the wall. You only have 2 options left:
a) Continuously miss out on things you really want to do, but suck it up and hope a similar opportunity for those fun things will arise in the future. Use your free time to drink, eat burgers and watch television to make yourself okay with it.
b) Lose your only customer (your boss) and thus your entire income, making it impossible to do anything that costs money anymore.
Now that’s a lose/lose situation no one in their right mind would want to get into, am I right? Still, billions of people do it on a daily basis.
Why do they do it?
This 1 minute video (especially the last sentence) explains it perfectly.
5. Overlap / win-win deals:
Unless you work independently, it might be hard to find a “boss” that wants to pay you as much as you value your time. It doesn’t hurt to ask of course 🙂 The thing is that a lot of older employers come from a generation of people who are even more stuck thinking in systems and ideas no longer relevant and don’t want to fix something if it ain’t broken. (Not realizing it was totally broken from the start 😉 )
What to do though, if you really need the money right now and you only find “customers” who want to buy your time for less than you value it?
You can start looking for other kinds of value you get in return that’s non-monetary. For example, I took on my last part-time job because I knew it would teach me some valuable skills I wanted to learn, I’d spend a lot of time outside and I’d meet some interesting people. It was also possible to make more money if I worked “more” or “harder” (two things she said… repeatedly).
This was more than enough value to seal the deal. Recently I “sold my time” voluntarily to a good friend because “one day was paid in money and the other 2 in skydiving”. That’s some nice non-monetary value there.
Sometimes, when you work as a volunteer, you might even work for very little (or no) money because you value the feeling of contributing to something bigger or helping people out. A feeling that can sometimes be worth more than money.
(Side note for employers: That means as a “time customer” it is important to be as grateful as possible towards your volunteers and not take them for granted, since for a lot of them your gratitude is a major part of the price they’re asking for their time. Something a certain reggae festival whose name I won’t name explicitly (but it was in a town called Geel) should take note of. )
It doesn’t matter what you get in return or even if it’s tangible, as long you are 100% sure that you find it worth trading your time for.
Car dealers who give their cars away for free go out of business, but they might make a little compromise on price here and there leave both parties as satisfied as possible.
Remember: you are a time dealer, learn from the best and treat your time the same way.
Dreaming About the Future
While it’s impossible to know for certain where the future will take us, especially when the times change as fast as they do right now, we can always try to make semi-accurate predictions based on the direction we are heading in right now.
I think it’s safe to say that with technological developments advancing as quickly as they do right now, in the near future more and more jobs for humans will be replaced by machines.
This makes sense. If a machine is cheaper, makes fewer mistakes and doesn’t get tired, then it would be incredibly stupid to still let a human do that job.
Does the thought of getting replaced make you angry? Then maybe you’re currently doing something similar to placing stickers on mayo jars and should sell your time more wisely or start doing something that actually plays to your strengths and forces you to use your brain/body.
It’s a good thing to no longer be a cog in the machine. When we are no longer forced to collectively kill brain cells for a living we can all start focusing our energy on creating a more meaningful contribution to this world.
I also believe people will start to realize it doesn’t make sense to pay someone a fixed amount of money and have them spend 40 hours a week in the office in return. Why?
Because it makes everyone unproductive. There’s no incentive to work harder or get more done. Why would you? You get the money anyway, so from your point of view it’s a stupid decision to work harder for the same amount of money.
On the other hand, if people got paid for the quality of their work instead of the quantity, the world would look completely different.
This would both be better for business owners (more productive employees and better output) as for employees (complete control over how much money you earn in accordance to how hard/smart you work).
This second change, while I’m sure it will come, might take a little longer because there’s an underlying paradigm shift a lot of people need to undergo before it can be applied on a large scale.
The thing is, it’s going to happen anyway, so if you’re willing to change your mindset right now, at least you can be ahead of the game instead of acting all “victim-y”, screaming “WHY???? Why didn’t anybody warn me??? “ In 5-10 years.
There are no “employees”, everyone is a freelancer.
There is no “job security” which reduced the “risk and uncertainty” of starting your own business. That’s a complete lie. When you see yourself as having a permanent job, you might feel secure, but let’s face it: Your boss can go out of business, or fire you at any moment just like you change your internet provider. Where’s your security then?
However, when you realize that you are simply a time merchant, you know that your well-being is under your own control. Not at the mercy of someone elses.
Got laid off?
Then you just lost a customer. No biggie. You can do it!
Maybe you need to rethink your marketing/sales/branding strategy towards potential customers. Or work hard on your own skills to make yourself less replaceable.
Sounds a lot more fun than just handing out resumes and hoping someone has enough mercy to hire you in this “fucked up economy”, doesn’t it? 😉