Friday, April 26, 2013

Worth And Worthiness ...

I just read a post that that used way, way, way too many words (so many that I nearly stopped reading because oy vey already, dude, get to the point) to argue the premise that, in life, charging what you're worth is bullshit.

"Bullshit" is his word, not mine.

The entire post seems to be predicated on the notion that some people charge for goods and/or services based on the value they assign to themselves as human beings — and they hold themselves in very high esteem.

I have never met anyone who charges for any goods or services based on what they believe their value to be as a person. Have you?

I am a very good baker. When I start my baking business, what I charge for baked goods will be based on what the market will bear, what my costs are to produce said baked goods, and yes, some margin that takes into account my talent as a baker. I will price based on what the cookies, etc., are worth, not my value as a person. If I price a cookie at two dollars, say, the reasoning will not be "This cookie is priced at two dollars because I am a very good person," the reasoning will be "This cookie is priced at two dollars because it cost me a dollar to produce and I can't afford to produce cookies and not earn any profit."

It has never crossed my mind to price a cookie any other way.

To say "This cookie is priced at one hundred dollars because I am a very, very nice person!" would be asinine, right?

Likewise, what I charge for wordsmithing services is based on what the market will bear. And frankly, I'm probably not charging enough in some instances. But given that many folks don't want to pay anything for writing or editing, finding clients who are willing to pay my current rates is challenge enough for the moment.

People can charge whatever they like. And other people will pay or not pay based on whether or not they perceive the value in a given cost.

A couple years ago, I was helping a client on a project and finished early. As long as I was at the office, and because she was crunched for time before a meeting, she asked me to do some quick research about possible speakers for an upcoming event. She told me the budget for a speaker so I could rule out anyone whose fee was higher than what they were willing to pay.

And I seem to remember her mentioning at some point that Jon Stewart charges $300,000 per speaking engagement.

But here's the fascinating thing (whether or not it's exactly true, I don't rightly know, but it's what I heard that day): He's set his fee at $300,000 because he really doesn't want to do speaking engagements. It's not worth it to him to be away from his family. But if someone is willing to pony up $300,000, then he'll do an event, knowing full well that almost nobody will ever cough up that kind of cash for a speaker.

I think that's brilliant.

His fee has nothing to do with what he thinks his value is as a person. His fee has everything to do with how much he values his time with his family.

His fee is not reflective of his ego. His fee is reflective of a complete lack of ego: It's not about him, it's about the other people in his life.

Maybe there are some people in the world who charge based on their perceived value of themselves. I've certainly never met any of them. But even so, wouldn't the market determine the ultimate value?

Perhaps there was a time when Paris Hilton thought she was worth $1 million per club opening, but if folks were only willing to pay her $250,000, that's what her appearance was worth, right?

It's all weird to contemplate. But I know this much, at least: I hang around with a lot of not-egocentric folks. Which is just the way I like 'em.


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