Select Page

Money in relation to what I create has always been a thing I’ve struggled with. Now that I’m branching out on my own in many ways, I need to get much more robust about charging what I think my work is worth. Which means I need to value my work more – that’s always been the problem for me, listening to the nasty whispering voice that says, “you just fluked it, you don’t know what you’re doing” instead of the people shouting “you do great work!”.

1372875_16082968

A story from my childhood that still makes me feel a little bit ashamed about my naivety and makes mum rile up: when I was in year 5 or 6 we had a cake/sweets stall at my primary school in Singapore. I don’t even remember what it was raising money for. Anyway, mum and I made some simple chocolates in moulds. It was fun and the results were cute (and tasty!). On the day, we were each responsible for setting up our stalls and pricing our goods. I thought about what I would like to pay for them, and sold them for 5c each (5c chocolates! That would be a bargain!). I was quite pleased to have sold out of all my stock very quickly to very eager customers.

But next to me was my classmate, Claudia. Her dad was the boss of one of the fanciest hotels in Singapore (where she also lived) and instead of making anything herself, she had just gone down to the kitchens and gotten patisserie style treats for free, which she sold for whatever they would have charged at the hotel. She also sold out her stock to very eager customers, but she made a motza.

I felt a bit defeated, because of course, at the end of the day, the financial result was what counted in the eyes of the teachers, not whether you’d sold out of all your 5c handmade chocolates. Mum was really mad with me and I got upset, because I didn’t understand why. She said, “because what you made was worth much more than what Claudia brought! You made those yourself and put a lot of effort in, and you undervalued your work! She put no effort in! You have to value yourself more!”

[edit to add: Mum says, “when I recall it, I think I was more cross that the staff had not taken the initiative to teach the children about more than just raising funds, and hadn’t used it to teach ethics as well.”]

It’s a lesson I’ve struggled to learn ever since, but it’s actually a really helpful memory to have, especially in this world of entrepreneurship where a lot of people seem to expect it’s easy to get rich without putting any effort in. So many people are looking for the get-rich-quick idea rather than creating something of lasting value, borne of expertise and meaningful work.


Two great posts I read/watched today:

Chris Guillebeau – The Magic Button of Good Design
“Most creative work, though, takes time and effort to get to the good stuff. The best designers spend years honing their craft. They do lots of bad work to get to the rare good work. Since their skills are highly valuable, why shouldn’t they be highly valued?”

Marie Forleo – Do you feel guilty about making money?
Kick those guilt goblins in the butt (I especially recognised the Mrs Self-Doubtfire pinterest goblin!).