I've always loved this because it means that I could do what I want. I don’t have to fall in line with someone else’s plan. I could create the life that I wanted and be rewarded.
The only way this phrase actually works is if what I loved provided enough value that people were willing to pay for it. Money is the social way of showing value.
I don’t love that, but that is reality.
When I lost my job teaching drama I went through a bit of an identity crisis. It occurred to me that what I was doing didn’t provide value. If it did I would still have a job teaching drama or be able to get another one.
Before all my artist friends, former students and parents of former students protest, let’s dive into perception. I can look back on how I was raised and the thing that had the biggest influence on me was theatre, that’s why I wanted to do it.
But when it comes to providing value perception is reality. One of the hardest personal finance lessons for me to learn and accept was where I spend my money shows what I value.
In this country right now public education holds little value. That’s why we pay teachers so little. The arts fit into that same category. Theatre is at the bottom.
Theatre is expensive. Continually expensive. The return on that investment is rare, even under the best circumstances. The value isn’t there.
It’s one thing to walk into a bad movie having paid $7, or even $15, to see it. It’s disappointing. But I have seen enough good movies that I would likely go back to see another one. Especially if I know the actors, the director, or the story. Sometimes the experience alone is worth the money.
If I go to a play and spend $50-$100 a ticket and it’s mediocre. The value drops. It’s not worth the risk. It’s hard for me to justify attending again.
I get the idea of art for arts sake to a point. My kids will be enriched by the arts, they will become better people because to them. I know that and for that reason I will put my kids through arts programs.
If they show an interest in engineering, I will foster the crap out of that because the return on investment has a higher potential.
I had dinner with a friend of mine who has two 3D printers. He has money to spare. What he does for a living is so sought after and valuable that people are willing to pay a ton of money for it. His skills are valuable.
All of these things got me thinking about value and the value that I provide. No matter what I do.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about money and some of my beliefs about money. Here’s the revelation for this post. Money shows value.
The more money I make the more valuable I am providing.
If I want to change my financial situation then how is it that I can provide more value? It’s at this point that I had another epiphany. This is where personal branding comes into play.
The internet told me that personal branding has to do with my social media profiles and my resume. But those are just the natural result of value that I already provide.
Personal branding is a new name but it’s old concept. Personal brand used to be passed by word of mouth because that was the only way to pass it on. The digital age changed the way the value we provide gets spreads.
If I’m a workhorse then I’m going to have a stellar resume.
If I live an interesting life and document it through Instagram then my following is going to show that.
That’s the hard part about value. I want the results, but the only way to get the results is to put in the work. And that’s hard.
Here’s the benefit of understanding this reality. If I am providing enough value then people will pay me. If I’m not, then they won’t.
It becomes a scale of the service that I am providing. If I know that the work that I am doing is valuable but the perceptions isn’t there then there is a breakdown in communication. That’s when I need to market it better.
There is a lot of business talk in all of this, that’s because everything is business. When I got into education and specifically theatre I didn’t think that I would need business skills. But what I found was that my administration didn’t care what I was doing. If they didn’t know what I was doing then I wasn’t providing value. If there’s no value then why is it being funded? That’s how I lost my job.
I learned this too late. It wasn’t until the semester before the program was cut that I started letting my administration know what I was doing. How many students were involved in my after school program, the parents that were involved, the awards the students were bringing back from competition, the recognition the school was getting. It was too late.
The experience of losing my “secure job” taught me that I am a business. No matter what business I’m in. I need provide a valuable service, and market myself with the value that I can provide. No one else it going to do it for me.