Listener Q&A (Saving the World vs. Making Money)
In today’s high-profit thinking Q&A, we resolve a listener dilemma: How do you balance making money and saving the world? Which do you do first? The answer is, you do both, because making money is how you save the world.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN FROM THIS EPISODE:
- How to decide how you are going to make money
- Why money isn’t made ratably over time—there’s an incubation period
- Why making meaningful money usually involves some form of suffering (spoiler alert—the journey through hell helps to ease other human suffering)
- Why the thought Some people can’t make money prevents the person who is thinking it from making money
- Why commerce and art are one and the same thing
- Why you should do the thing you’re called to do (hint—it’s your unique and special way of saving the world)
- Why there’s no need for entrepreneurs to “give back.” Rather, there’s simply a need to give in ways that end senseless human suffering
- How to leave the politics to the politicians, and get on with the serious business of doing what you were put on this earth to do
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Welcome to Episode 22 of How to Make More Money, a podcast that helps you get seriously good at the game of making serious money. I’m your host Kelly Hollingsworth, and I’m thrilled you’re here, because today we’re talking about high profit thinking. Specifically, today we’re going to discuss the answers to a series of questions from a listener who is struggling with balancing her commercial vs civic activities.
Essentially, she’s wondering, “Is it really okay to focus on making money? To just focus on that? What about if you’re not ‘helping the world’?”
In these two questions, we have a nice little rat’s nest of low-profit thoughts that prevent many of us from making money, so today let’s take this episode and begin unwind this for our listener. Then, after we do this today, then our listener is going to join us for an upcoming episode so she can share with us how she received what we’re talking about in this episode, and she can get some help if she’s having any additional questions or concerns.
So to start off, I want to say that I love how she framed her email to me. She closed her message with, “How do you decide how you’re going to make money? Like, what is your decision process like? I really want to understand HOW YOU THINK, if you can’t tell.”
This, my friends, is evidence of a woman who is on the verge of busting into high-profit thinking. She recognizes that there’s a new way to think. She sees that her own thinking is getting in the way. And she wants to know how to step out of the low-profit way of thinking and get into high-profit thinking.
I also love the humanity in this email. She is deeply concerned about helping the world. She’s deeply concerned about helping other humans. She wants to do this BEFORE she makes money. So let’s notice something. She’s in a dilemma. Wanting money. Wanting to help humanity. Not knowing how to reconcile these two seemingly irreconcilable desires. So let’s go through her questions now and see if we can help her out of this dilemma.
We started our exchange, this listener and I, in my Facebook group for women. If you haven’t joined, the group is called Women Making Money, and it’s linked in the show notes. If you’re a female human and you want to join, find the link there and join us. Inside the Facebook group, I posted a while back, when everyone was in election turmoil, that our group is not political. We can make money no matter who’s in the White House.
And this listener recently saw that post and wrote: “But what about the decisions of inept leaders… that are leading us towards fewer opportunities, communism, etc. You know? People in Cuba don’t have many business opportunities. Not trying to be a Debbie downer – just trying to get to the heart of what I know by this point must be a “thought error,” as you say! Because it has not helped me make money ever.”
And I wrote back to her, “What is the MOST inept decision that is leading to fewer opportunities? Tell me what it is and we will take a look at it together.”
And she replied, “Whatever the laws are that allow big business tax breaks that force out smaller competition and destroy communities. REALLY looking forward to your input on this! People create their own realities…and yet…these outer things are important too. Right?”
And I replied, “What’s a specific example of a specific law that’s causing a specific problem? Do you know one? Or do you just have a general sense that there is a problem?”
And she replied, “A general sense! I know that’s vague! Basically, I see how you are unconcerned about politics, because you’re too focused on making money and living your life. (Right?) I feel like that is a very HEALTHY way to do it and the HIGH PROFIT thinking way to do it, and that’s the way I WANT to view it, too. What I’m wondering is, how do I get to that point? Tired of worrying, tired of being distracted, tired of not making the money I want to make.”
I asked her if she wanted to discuss this on the podcast, and she said that she did. To make sure she gets the most of our interactions, I first want to answer some of her email questions, and then she can come on the podcast after she’s had some time to process, and we will discuss.
So now let’s dive into the questions that she emailed to me. After that exchange we had on Facebook, she emailed this to me:
“Do you really go about your life helping others without explicitly thinking “I’ve got to help others”? Because you ARE helping people through your coaching, or helping them help themselves, but I’m guessing you don’t think about it in the same way most people (or the same way I currently) do.
She further wrote, “As I mentioned in the FB post, people in Cuba don’t have a lot of business opportunities. So politics DOES matter. It’s the foundation for EVERYTHING else. Or is it? To run with the Cuba example for lack of anything better, [what] would you do if you lived in Cuba? Or you wouldn’t even live there any more because you’d be one of the wealthy people who got out and went to Miami?”
“Shouldn’t we be focusing on how the country is run before we focus on making money? Because it’s foundational to everything else? Or is it more important to acquire personal power through money first, because so much of everything else you’ll never be able to control?”
She further writes, “Are business owners required to “give back”? Or is the “giving back” secondary to the energy behind it. As in, whether you’re approaching it with beta or alpha energy (in the sense that you use those terms).”
“When you think about writing your novels,” she wants to know, “do you ever think — I should be writing something that helps humanity in some way? Or do you have no guilt whatsoever in writing fiction? And actually, that when it comes down to it, fiction DOES help humanity, though not necessarily in the linear way something like self-help seems to.”
“Is it okay to make art just for the sake of making art? Really? Like, REALLY really? And not worry about humanity whatsoever?”
It’s a fantastic email. I love all these questions. And she concludes with the part that I read to you previously. “How do you decide how you’re going to make money? … what is your decision process…?”
So now that you have the lay of the land in terms of what this listener wants to know, let’s dive in and resolve this seemingly unresolvable dilemma of wanting to help people vs. wanting to make money, and which do you do first.
To resolve this dilemma, we’re going to go straight to the heart of this problem. Our listener is thinking that there are two things that happen in life. You help people. That’s one thing. And you make money. In her mind, that’s a completely different thing. This is the entry point into why she’s struggling to make money. This is one thought that’s lurking in her low-profit playbook.
The reason I make money is because I do not look at life that way. I look at it like this: helping people is what you do when you want to make money. When you help someone, they pay you money.
So when she asks, “How do you decide how you’re going to make money?” the answer is the same every single time. I see a problem that I can solve and that I care about, and I decide, “I am the person to solve this problem.”
This thought process—see a problem, solve a problem, make money—is the seed of every business. You have a dirty house and you want it clean? That’s a business. This was the housekeeping business that I started as a teenager.
You have a desire to invest your spare cash to make more spare cash, but you don’t know where to put the cash? That’s a business. This was the hedge fund business that I started as an adult.
Every business is at its heart two simple things: you have a problem, and I have a solution. I will help you out of your problem and into your happy ending. In exchange for this help, I will make money.
It’s a beautiful thing. People want a happy ending so much, that in the absence of a real one, they will pay good money for a poor approximation. So if you offer a real happy ending, the world will beat a path to your door, shower you with dollars, and tell their friends to do the same. It is a beautiful thing for humanity.
It’s also SOOOO simple. Solve a problem. Make money. Wash, rinse, repeat. All day long. The simplicity of this, though, is something our listener is not currently seeing, because of a second low-profit thought that I’m thinking is currently lurking in her business playbook.
If I were talking to this listener and I said, “Here’s how I decide how I’m going to make money. I see a problem and I decide to solve it. When I do, I make money…” Imagine we’re in that conversation. What she’d say in response is probably going to be some version of, “Yes, but what about the people who don’t have money? What about them? They have problems, too.”
I’m guessing this is what she’s going to say, because I’ve seen this question a million times. How can I make money when I’m supposed to be helping people? If she thought that everyone had money or was capable of getting money to purchase the help that she offers, this question wouldn’t come up.
One of the wrenches in this listener’s money-making engine is a thought that some people can make money and that some people can’t. If we look closely, we can see this in the questions she sent in to me. For example, she’s worried about small businesses that can’t make money because of some vague but troubling features in the tax code that favor rich people. She’s worried about people who live in Cuba, because she has a sense that it’s more difficult to make money there. All of this is telling us that one of the low-profit thoughts that’s putting a wrench in her money-making engine is this: There are some people who can make money, and some people who can’t.
When she thinks this, she finds herself swimming in a sea of low-profit emotions that I’m going to guess includes some guilt, some powerlessness, some shameful handwringing over her own privilege, and a strong desire to help people who can’t make money.
When she feels this way, what happens? She spins in questions. Am I allowed to just go make money? Don’t I have to save the country first? Don’t I have to drain the political swamp first? Isn’t the political system foundational? Isn’t that the most important thing?
We’re going to answer these questions in a second. For now, just notice what happens when she engages in the action of asking herself these questions. Exactly one thing happens. She doesn’t help anyone. Not herself. Not anyone else. And she doesn’t make money.
So let’s put a very fine point on this. When you think this low-profit thought that some people can’t make money, you swim in an endless sea of low-profit emotions. Then you spin in questions. Then you create the result of exactly what you were thinking. Some people can’t make money. and guess who it is? It’s you.
That’s how those dominoes fall down. When you think that some people can’t make money, you become one of the people who can’t make money.
This is a thought that is so foreign to me, I can’t even tell you. There has been no moment in my life when I thought that some people can’t make money. I’m not going to say that cliched thing of, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” What I will say is this. Every single time that I’ve encountered a person who’s struggling to make money, there has always been several great ways for them to make money, right in front of them. But they weren’t seeing the opportunities to make money, and often, it’s because they were thinking, some people can’t make money. So instead of making money, they wonder what we’re going to do about the people who can’t make money. And they become a person who can’t make money.
Here’s an example. Once I was coaching a woman whose business focus was derailed by a hurricane in Texas. This woman lived in North Idaho, where I do. Her business had nothing to do with the hurricane or Texas. Her business wasn’t affected by the hurricane at all. But her business focus was obliterated by the hurricane. She was concerned that in the circumstance of the hurricane, that now some people can’t make money. And she was thinking that if some people can’t make money, it’s unfair for me to make money.
She felt worried and sympathetic and angry that the hurricane happened and that it was rendering some people unable to make money. When she felt this way, she didn’t do anything in her business, and she became a person who can’t make money. Was this a permanent condition? No. During the period of time that she was thinking that some people can’t make money, she was temporarily rendered unable to make money. While that low-profit thought was hanging out in her business playbook, she was rendered incapacitated and was therefore unable to conduct business, and therefore didn’t make money.
So here’s the first BIG THING to glean from this episode. If you believe that some people can’t make money, you are in grave danger of becoming a person who can’t make money. With your own low-profit thought, you will literally incapacitate yourself from making money.
So now that we have that out of the way, let’s deal with the next thing that usually comes up in these conversations. The next thing is, okay, so I see how this thought is affecting me. It’s not helping me make money. I know that. But that’s not the point. The point is, what are we going to do about all the other people? The people who are suffering? What are we going to do about them? Because they need money too! And inept politicians are preventing them from getting money.
To this, I have about three things to offer. The first one is quick. If inept politicians prevented people from making money, no one would make money. We are long on ineptitude, my friends. It’s rampant, no matter where you look, and politics is no exception. This is why it’s so easy to be successful. No matter what realm of the world, wherever you serve other humans, if you just do what you say you’re going to do, the world will beat a path to your door. The bar is that low on delivery. So ineptitude is not preventing people from making money. If it did, no one would make money.
The second thing is that if some people are not making money, it’s for exactly the same reasons you are not making money. What if everyone who’s not making money was not making money because they’re worried about everyone else who’s not making money?
This may seem far-fetched. But it’s actually true. We can divide humans into two basic groups. There are those who think that some humans can’t make money. Guess what? Pretty much none of these humans are making money. If they are making some money, they’re still underearning because they have their feet on the brakes of their business because they feel guilty. Then there’s the second group. These folks are thinking, everyone can make money. it’s so easy. And guess what? Everyone in this group is making money because no one has their feet on the brakes of their business.
My client who was troubled about the hurricane wasn’t believing this idea. She was picturing the people in Texas who were homeless after the hurricane. So let’s get that visual firmly in our minds. Let’s get really clear on exactly what the situation looked like. If we are watching it on a movie screen, there are no homes. There’s water. Everything is dirty. There’s not a good place to sleep. You might be sleeping on a cot, if you’re lucky. You are sleeping in the dirt, if you’re not. You’re hauling your few belongings around in a bag. It’s filled with dirt. Every time you need something, you’re digging through that bag trying to find it. Showers? Forget it. Cell phone? It died days ago. There’s some bottled water, and one can of warm diet squirt that someone handed to you, and you’re saving it for later when you just can’t take it anymore. You have a medical situation that’s extremely uncomfortable, but you can’t get help because there’s no doctor available. Someone not too far away from you lost a family member, and they’re having to transport their loved one’s body on their own because there’s no official help to be had at the moment.
These are the circumstances. Now think about this. How are you viewing this situation as I’m describing it? Is it awful? Is this a situation in which no one can make money?
That’s how most people view things. But now I’d like to invite you into a different mode of thinking. What is actually going on with these folks, who are in these trying circumstances, is that they are in what I call The Whirley Pop.
What do I mean by this? Picture a Whirley Pop. Do you know what a Whirley Pop is? It’s an old-fashioned popcorn maker. It’s metal. You put it on your stove, and you put ½ cup of popcorn kernels into it, with about a tablespoon of olive oil. And then you put the lid on. The Whirley Pop has a wooden handle on the outside. And you turn the wooden handle, and that rotates a metal arm on the inside of the Whirley Pop that stirs the popcorn kernels and the oil so they don’t burn. And while you’re doing this, the Whirley Pop is on high heat, and it’s getting hotter and hotter and hotter inside. The oil is starting to sizzle. The popcorn kernels are heating up. They are feeling the pressure. If the popcorn kernels were sentient beings, I imagine they would feel more and more and more uncomfortable while all of this is happening.
But then what happens? In an instant, they pop. They transform into something completely different than they were before. Yes, they are still popcorn, but the difference in their commercial appeal is night and day. An un-popped kernel or corn has no appeal. All it’s going to do is break your teeth. But a kernel of popped popcorn? Totally different. We can smell it when it pops. The fragrance is intoxicating. The moment it pops, it’s a completely new thing. It has broad commercial appeal. We smell something intoxicating, and we want it.
This, by the way, is what the click is, that we discussed all the way back in the earlier episodes. When you have the click, that means you’ve popped. You’ve transformed from being the tortured kernel of popcorn that was being stirred and stirred around in the sizzling hot oil… In a split second you become something different–the fluffy kernel of popcorn that draws everyone closer to you. When you have the click, you smell amazing.
So now let’s go back to our friends in Texas after the hurricane. The scenario I described, with all the dirt and inconvenience and danger, is the exact scenario I experienced on a rafting trip I did on the Salmon River several years ago. There were no homes. There was water everywhere. Everything was dirty. There was not a good place to sleep. I was hauling my few belongings around in a bag. It was filled with dirt. There were no showers. Cell phones were days’ dead. There was some bottled water, and one can of warm diet squirt that someone handed to me, that I was saving for later. I had a medical situation that was extremely uncomfortable, and I couldn’t get help because there was no doctor. Someone not too far away from us, in a raft upriver, lost a family member, and they had to transport their loved one’s body on their own because there was no official help to be had at the moment.
That was the situation. And guess what? I viewed the entire experience as entrepreneurial reconnaissance. I was in a Whirley Pop. I was thinking, wow. there are so many things people need to know to make an experience like this more pleasant and more fun. To really get the most out of their time in the wilderness. I could make a fortune with this knowledge that I’m gaining inside this particular Whirley Pop.
And so, go back tot eh conversation that I was having with my client who was concerned about what was happening in Texas. When she and I were having the conversation about “some people can’t make money because of what’s happening in Texas, they are suffering.” My thought was, yes, they are suffering right now. But that suffering is often exactly where money comes from. Money happens, very reliably, inside the Whirley Pop of hardship. Does this mean that I want people to suffer? No. Absolutely not. My thought, on the Texas situation was, yes, we’ll do what’s necessary to help people out of physical danger. Yes, we’ll do what’s necessary to provide bottled water and cans of warm diet Squirt, or even cold diet Squirt and cots and clothes. Yes, they need medical care and we’re going to get it to them. Let’s donate to the Red Cross. Let’s get some humans in there to help. Let’s get it done.
All of this suffering will end, because humans will step in and help end it. But did I ever think that this suffering had anything to do with people not making money? No. I thought to myself, this is exactly why they will make money. When everything is a mess, when the problems are at their worst, that’s when, in each person’s mind, one of two things is going to happen. Some people are going to think, “Wow. People are going to need building supplies. They’re going to need childcare. They’re going to need construction services and cleaning services. Mold removal. Every kind of service imaginable, people are going to need. That’s one group of people. They’re going to think high-profit thoughts. Those who are thinking high-profit thoughts will make money, not in spite of whatever situation they happen to be in, but because of it.
What will other people think? They will look around, and think, Great. Now we can’t make money. Just look at this mess. There’s no way we can make money now. This never makes money. Waiting for things to be perfect so you can make money never makes money, because the way you make money is by solving problems. It’s the high profit thinkers who want to solve the problems who make the money. The low-profit thinkers are waiting for things to get perfect again. It’s never going to work for them. Perfection is not where the money is made. The money is made by taking people from the problems towards perfection.
Now, if we take this point to its logical extreme, we could argue that there will be people who can’t make money in the hurricane mess. We could argue, for the sake of a hypothetical, there’s NO WAY, it’s IMPOSSIBLE. I’d like to offer that this is never true. It’s never true that you’re stuck in a place where you can’t make money and there’s no way out, ever. If think you are, you aren’t.
But for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume this is true. Let’s imagine I’m down in Texas during that hurricane mess, and I’m literally locked in a box. While I’m in the box, unable to escape and unable to make money, what’s going to happen? What would happen in my mind is that I would think, “This inescapable box in which I could never make money, is a Whirley Pop. I’m in the most uncomfortable part. And I’m going to learn from this and then I’m going to write a book about this. I’m going to write my story of being locked in a box and what that meant for my life, and what others can glean from it, too.”
There’s always a way, my friends. There’s always a way.
This story, by the way, is Viktor Frankl’s famous book, Man’s Search for Meaning. He wrote of what it meant to be locked in the box of a Nazi concentration camp during the Holocaust. According to our friends at Wikipedia, “Man’s Search for Meaning is a 1946 book by Viktor Frankl chronicling his experiences as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II, and describing his psychotherapeutic method, which involved identifying a purpose in life to feel positive about, and then immersively imagining that outcome.”
This book, about Viktor Frankl’s time in one of the most horrific boxes imaginable to any human, currently has over 25,000 reviews on Amazon. To say it’s a bestseller would be an understatement. And it was all made possible because he went through hell. That was his time in the box, and it’s the first layer of story in every profitable business. The “going through hell” part is when you’re in the Whirley Pop. It’s so uncomfortable. It feels like you’re going to die. Some of the kernels do die. They don’t make it. That’s why, when you pop, people pay attention. When you’re here, after you’ve popped, then you’re at the second layer of story that’s present in every successful business. You went through hell, now you’re at the story you tell. In Viktor Frankl’s case, that’s Man Search for Meaning. The book he wrote about going through hell. That was the story he told. Then there’s layer three. The journey you sell. When you go through hell, and you come out on the other side with something that will help other people on the same journey, you get out there and you tell people. And then you invite them to get to the other side of hell with you as their guide, so what you’ve learned, by going through hell the first time, all by yourself on your own, will make their experience easier, and even enjoyable or energizing, for them.
This is what Viktor Frankl did. He brought the three layers of story together into a profitable business. He had what I call “the click,” and the only reason that he had it is because he went through the Whirley Pop. He went through a meaningful version of hell, and helping other humans make a similar journey with more ease, energy, and enjoyment was his contribution to humanity. Not just commerce. But to the advancement of the human race.
And how did this pay off? According to Wikipedia, “[a]t the time of the author’s death in 1997, the book had sold over 10 million copies and had been translated into 24 languages. It’s widely credited as one of the ten most influential books in the United States.”
Did he enjoy huge cash flow during his time in the box that he was in? During his time in the worst Whirley Pop imaginable? No. Absolutely not. So here’s what everyone needs to know. Money isn’t made ratably over time. You don’t make a million dollars in equal monthly installments beginning in month one. Making money is like being a kernel of corn inside the Whirley Pop. For the longest time, you’re in there by yourself and it feels terrible. On the outside, it looks like nothing is happening. From the outside, there’s no discernible difference that anyone can see. They may hear some sizzling. They may think, she’s suffering. But there’s not a lot beyond that going on externally. But all the while, on the inside, pressure is building. Internally, things are changing. Connections are being forged. Ideas are gaining steam. The power behind what you do is multiplying exponentially because you are figuring things out. And when the Whirley Pop erupts, and everyone can see the power of what you’ve been producing, then, suddenly, the world pays attention. They don’t just pay attention. They smell what you’re doing. And they’re drawn towards it. Suddenly, everyone wants it.
This is how money is made. During the “going through hell” part of making money, where you’re figuring out what everyone else needs to know, because they’re going through hell, too, and you want to make it easier for everyone… during that part, it doesn’t look like you’re making money at all. It may look like you’re incapable of making money during that phase of the money-making process. But then, when you get it figured out and you start telling others, that’s when the popcorn is popped. And that’s when there’s something to sell.
That’s what the click is. When you have it, you transform from being the tortured kernel of popcorn that was being stirred around in the sizzling hot oil… In a split second you become something different. The fluffy kernel of popcorn that draws everyone closer to you.
This is something very few people want to pay attention to when it comes to making money. They think you can skip the Whirley Pop portion of the production. They think you can go straight from being an un-popped kernel of corn to being a fluffy fragrant piece of popcorn that everyone wants.
But that’s not how it goes. First you have to go through hell. You have to go through that stage where you’re doing the thing no one wants to do. You’re figuring out how to do it more easily, how to do it better, how to make the journey enjoyable or even fun. And when you figure it out, you have something of value to offer to humanity.
Let’s take a look at Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. Is this commerce? Definitely. It’s a commercial message that invites people into his movement. He had a business helping people think differently so that they could experience their lives more enjoyably and more fully. Is it art? Unquestionably. As we said earlier, it’s widely touted as one of the 10 most important books in the United States.
In short, this one book is everything. It was Viktor Frankl’s mission on earth to live that life. To go through the special version of hell that he went through. And to offer other humans a powerful story that only he could tell, that would help humans in a unique and powerful way that only he could offer.
So this is the next big point to glean from today’s episode. Yes, we alleviate suffering as quickly and expeditiously as we can. But let’s not get confused. This has nothing to do with making money or not making money. The people who are suffering are in the Whirley Pop. Those who are thinking high-profit thoughts, who are going to make something meaningful of the experience, will make money as a result of going through that journey. Those who are not thinking high-profit thoughts will have gone on that particular journey through hell for no particular reason at all, to paraphrase our friend Forrest Gump.
So this is what people who are struggling to make money need to know. The suffering is the Whirley Pop. Yes, let’s alleviate suffering. But let’s not get confused. The suffering is the seed of the most meaningful money you will ever make in your life. One of my clients inside Gateway to Seven said recently, “I’m just glad to know, after the hell I went through, I can actually profit from the trip.”
And I laughed and I said, YES! This is the point of it all. Helping other humans with what you learned. When you do this, they are delighted to pay you, because you are saving your own little corner of the world from the particular version of hell that you suffered.
So now here’s the third thing to take from this episode. There is no bucket called art. There’s no bucket called business. There’s just a collection of powerful, valuable experiences that help humanity. They are as artful as they are commercial.
When I was practicing law, one of the things I did was take the business deal that we determined about how a hedge fund would run, and I would memorialize that deal into the documents. Into the governing documents that bring a hedge fund into existence. It sounds kind of boring, right? But it wasn’t. It was art. I was writing something that met the requirements of the law, and that was appealing to the investors, that they could instantly understand and be attracted to and drawn to and want to invest in, at the same time I was writing something that would satisfy the regulators and address mundane things like the method of accounting that the fund would use. It was the most creative work I’ve ever done.
People would say, “I don’t know how you could do that all day long. Isn’t it so boring?” And yes it probably would have been boring if I had just been writing the fine print. This is so funny. One of my friends used to call me the princess of fine print. And if that’s all that I did, if all I did was write fine print, it would’ve been boring. But that wasn’t all that I was doing. I was coaching the hedge fund manager on how his fund needed to operate to best capitalize on the trading strategy that the fund implemented. And then in my brain I was figuring out how to describe the strategy to make it understandable and attractive to the investors. So they could see the power of the strategy and what it involved. And then I would put that into a document. It was like writing a story. It actually wasn’t like writing a story. It was writing a story.
It was commerce, and it was art. There is no difference between the two things. If it helps a human, it is both of those things.
So to the listener’s question about, “Can you just go write a novel? Is that okay?” The answer is, it depends on what kind of novel you’re writing. Is it a novel that will help someone? If so, then yes, write away. I remember during a particularly low point for me in my life, I didn’t have any friends at school. I was younger and smaller than everyone in my class. I was blind. I had these coke bottle glasses that you could use to magnify the sun and kill bugs if you wanted to. That’s how strong the magnification was. I did not really fit in with the other kids because… Imagine this. Talking to me when I was eight years old was very much like talking to me right now. I spoke like an adult when I was a little kid. So I really had no friends, and during a particularly rough patch during my school years, I found a novel somewhere at school. I think it was on the school bus. I don’t have a copy of it now. But it was called Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith. I just found it on Amazon. They still sell it. I’m linking to it in the show notes if you want to check it out. The Chicago Tribune called it “a glad affirmation that love can accomplish the impossible.” And I remember, during the lunch times when I had no one else to talk to, when no one would sit with me, I read this book. I read this novel over and over and over again. The characters in the novel became my friends.
So was writing this novel a worthless exercise? Was there something more important that Betty Smith could have done with her time, other than writing this novel? I don’t know. I don’t know what her life looked like when she wrote it. I don’t know what else, if anything, she could have been doing. But I know that at the lowest point in my life, this novel she wrote, was what saved me. Today this novel costs $10 and change, and it helped me in a way that few things available for purchase ever have helped me in my entire life.
Did her novel save the world? No. But it was my only friend at a time when I had no friends. At a time when everything that was good in the world felt available to other people, but not to me, I had this one thing to help me feel better.
I think what happened with Betty Smith is that she felt called to write that story. She may have wondered, why am I doing this? Shouldn’t I be saving the world? She may have felt conflicted about her civic responsibilities vs. “just writing a novel.” But she obviously ignored all of that inner conflict, and allowed herself to luxuriate in the writing of a book she could write that no one else could offer to the world. And when she did… When she sat down in honor of her desire to tell the story that’s depicted in the novel Joy in the Morning, what happened? She created a commercial asset, and a piece of art, that changed someone’s life. I’ll never forget that book, and the effect it had on me at the time when I was reading it.
So now, with all of this out of the way, let’s go back to our listener’s questions, and answer them one by one. The first question is: “Is it really okay just to focus on making money? What about if you’re not ‘helping the world’?”
The answer is yes. It’s okay to focus on just making money. Making money is how you help the world.
The next question is, “Do you really go about your life helping others without explicitly thinking “I’ve got to help others”?
Yes, because I’m thinking two other things. I never think “I’ve got to help others,” because instead, I’m thinking, I am helping others, in the unique way that only I can help. I’m also thinking, the people I’m not helping right now are in a Whirley Pop. When they pop, they will come out and save their own little corners of the world. This is how the world works. When suffering is afoot, we do what we can to ease it. AND we know that there’s going to be some meaning, and some money, that is made by the high-profit thinkers who went through that particular journey through hell.
The listener notes… I love that she wrote this. She said, when you’re going through life without explicitly thinking “I’ve got to help others,” you actually “ARE helping people through your coaching, or helping them help themselves, but I’m guessing you don’t think about it in the same way most people (or the same way I currently) do.”
And yes, here she’s correct. The way I’m thinking about this is that there’s a reason I sat alone and at lunch alone and read novels alone instead of having friends for much of my childhood. It’s because the universe plunked me smack dab into a Whirley Pop of inequality and poverty and loneliness and frustration. That was my suffering inside the Whirley Pop. I was on my own version of the journey through hell. It doesn’t compare to the suffering Viktor Frankl experienced, but it wasn’t a cakewalk either. It was the path I was put here to walk. And it didn’t render me less capable to make money. It was the seed of my superpower in making money.
Part of this superpower is commercial storytelling. I’ve honed it over time. Developing this skill is the reason I had no friends at lunch. I was supposed to be reading novels. I wasn’t supposed to be playing hopscotch. I was supposed to be learning how to tell stories that invite people into a movement that saves humanity from the problem I was put on this earth to solve, which is female underearning.
So when our listener writes, “Isn’t politics the foundation of everything?” the answer is emphatically no. Unless you’re a politician, politics is nothing. The other people vote. We elect our leaders. They do, or don’t do, their jobs. This is the essence of delegation. If we don’t like the work done by the people to whom we’ve delegated responsibility, we delegate to someone else. But we don’t micromanage. Because if we do, then we are, as Byron Katie aptly says, spending our time in their business. And when we’re in their business, where are we not? We are not in our own businesses. And then, the thing we are put on this earth to do DOESN’T GET DONE. The meaning that is supposed to come from helping other humans as a result of our own version of crawling over the glass and walking through the fire on our own particular journeys through hell… that meaning never materializes. And then what happens? When meaning goes missing, so does money.
If I lived in Cuba, as our reader asks, what would happen? Would I be one of the wealthy people who moves to Miami? I don’t know. To this, all I can say is that I believe that no matter where in the world I found myself, I would find a way to fulfill the life I’m supposed to live. I don’t know if it would have been the same life, or a different life as I’m living now, but I know that each of us finds ourself in our own unique version of hell. Our own particular version of the Whirley Pop. And when we do, we can make meaning from it, and from meaning, we can make money. I believe this no matter where we are in the world. I must acknowledge that there are some places in the world where it’s easier to make money than others. Having been born in the United States of America in the year that I was born, I know, was about as lucky as one gets in terms of winning the birth location lottery. I was lucky in so many ways. With the IQ I possess, for example—where that comes from, we can discuss in another episode. With the mother I had, who taught me so many things and took care of me in so many ways. And with the father I had, who also taught me so many things.
Few of us have it all good. I had many things that were good. Many of us have it much worse than I did. The playing field is far from level. But I do know this. No matter where you are, no matter how hard it is, no matter how hot the hell of your own personal Whirley Pop, I know that everyone who wants something has it in them to achieve it.
When our listener asks, “Shouldn’t we be focusing on how the country is run before we focus on making money? Because it’s foundational to everything else? Or is it more important to acquire personal power through money first, because so much of everything else you’ll never be able to control?”
Here, I know so many people are going to call me a cynic, but for what it’s worth, here’s how I think about it. The country is probably run at the pleasure of the people who make the money. If we want some influence in the way the country is run, we make money first. Then we get the influence. This may not be what people want to hear, but it’s how I think about it, and I don’t think I’m too far off. I saw Jennifer Lawrence give a presentation on reforming our government once. She was speaking on behalf of an organization… I think it’s called Represent.Us. And I’ll never forget what she said. I’m paraphrasing, but basically I recall her saying that legislative measures that have universal public support have a 70% chance of being passed and enacted into law. And legislative measures that have no public support also have a 70% chance of being passed and enacted into law.
I hear things like this, and I use them as fuel to keep my eye on the things I’m supposed to be doing. I’m supposed to be helping women see that they can make so much more money. We don’t need an act of Congress. We don’t need a corporate committee who can fix this. We don’t need a sponsor or a mentor or whatever people are telling us we need to close the gender earnings gap and the gender wealth gaps. All we need are the skills that make money. I developed these skills on my own, as I was walking my own journey through hell. Now I’m here sharing them with you. That’s the story I tell. And inside of Gateway to Seven, that’s the journey I sell. I keep my eye on the ball because I don’t pretend to think I have any influence over what politicians are doing. They’re playing their own game. I’m playing mine.
Then our listener asks, do I think I’m required to “give back.”? The answer is no. I’m not required to “give back,” because I’m not taking anything. By showing up in my business, I’m giving. I’m adding something to the world that no one else could add in exactly the way that I can. This doesn’t make me special. We’ve all lived our own story, and I’m living mine and sharing it with people who want to live the same journey. And it feels like giving. I am wringing the value out of brain and bringing them to my little corner of the world that I’m sharing with you in these episodes. When I’m done with an episode, there is literally nothing left to give. My brain feels like an old wad of gum. So for me, no, there’s no “giving back.” When you’re giving everything you have, and there’s nothing left to give, giving back simply doesn’t apply. Giving back is for people who feel that they have been taking, and that’s not an approach to business that I would ever advocate or participate in.
Do I give to help ease senseless suffering? Absolutely. But I’m not doing it because I think I took something from someone else. I just do it because that’s what humans do. We ease senseless suffering wherever we can.
So then our listener asks, “Is it okay to make art just for the sake of making art? Really? Like, REALLY really? And not worry about humanity whatsoever?”
To this, I’ll say, we always worry about humanity. We’re humans. That’s what we do. It’s our job to worry about humanity. And that’s the reason we make art and it’s the reason we do business. It’s all for the sake of humanity. There’s no other reason to do it. And when you do it, you make money. And the better you do it, the more money you make.
I hope this helps, my dear listener. I hope it helps everyone who’s listening to this show. And next time, we’ll get to chat with our listener and find out how this was received, and if she needs any more help. I look forward to speaking with her in that episode. I hope you join us for it, and thanks so much for being here today.