Why Running Your Own Brand Is – And Isn’t — For Everyone

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Why Running Your Own Brand Is - And Isn't -- For Everyone dre baldwinHypothetical: I’ll make you an offer — choose either A or B:

A. You can work for yourself. Every dollar that comes in goes through you. You’re completely responsible for its success or failure. All problems eventually fall to you if no one else solves them.  All eyes are on you. Your money is not guaranteed — there will be times when you don’t know when you’ll even have money again. But you are in charge. You are doing something you enjoy doing, something you’d do even if you weren’t getting paid for it, every day. You’re fulfilled. You’re motivated. You actually feel like working every day. You wake up before your alarm clock goes off. It’s exciting because  you never know what the next day will bring — hell, you decide what the next day brings. You write the script and nobody can question you. You answer to no one. You can even take a day or a weekend or a week off if you want to, and no one will even know you did. Your less ambitious friends look at you and say wistfully, ‘I wish I could do what you do everyday (at which point you want to shake them and scream, “YOU CAN!!!” But you show restraint). ‘

Pay: You’ll make between $0-1,000/Day — and some days it will be $0. Not a dime is guaranteed. 

B. You can come work for me. You enjoy the work (and sometimes, just tolerate it) but you don’t love it at all. You know you’re not in control of your destiny. You like your boss (me) but you don’t love me. Some days you don’t feel like working but you show up anyway, because you need that check every two weeks. I will tell you what to do, when to do it and how to do it. Every day is pretty much the same — you show up, do your assigned job tasks, and go home. It’s pretty predictable and safe and relatively guaranteed (at least as long as you have the job). You have to schedule your days off, with my approval. Sometimes you find yourself daydreaming as you stare out the window, wondering what it would be like to just spend the afternoon taking a walk in the park with your dog, or eating ice cream and watching movies all day on your couch. Then you snap to attention because you know the owner could walk by and catch you loafing — except that he’s not even there — he took the day off. You know you’re not the puppet master here, but you feel helpless in changing the situation. But, you do have that check coming.

Pay: $100/day. Guaranteed, no more no less. 

Which do you choose? If I posed this quest into a room of 100 random people, at least half of them would choose option A. When push comes to shove, though — let’s say, that $100/day job offer is on the table in that same room and there are 100 open slots. If you’re taking it, you must do so right now. At least 80 of that 100 is taking that job on the spot. I’m sure of it.

Why?

There are many reasons; here are a few.

1. People are risk averse. My belief is that the majority of humans would take a guaranteed “C” instead of gambling on a “A”/”F” roll of the dice — just so they can boast that they didn’t get the “F”. These are the same people who will make a point of informing you that they’ve never lost, while conveniently leaving out the fact that that’s because they’ve never played. Tiptoeing through life to arrive safely at death? Yeah, that’s these people.

2. Very few will admit to it, but many people want to have someone who tells them what to do, when and how. They don’t want 100% of the responsibility. The more I live life and more people I meet and talk to, the more I realize this. It’s just like the A/B hypothetical above. If you ask people if they would rather make all their own decisions or have someone else tell them what to do, nearly everyone says they want to think and decide for themselves. Right? Yeah, that’s what they say. The reality is, though, that when people are left to their own devices inertia sets in and they end up doing noting. Nothing. People want structure in the form of instruction.

3. Stepping out on your own attracts attention, because you’re doing something different from the average. Some people fear attention and will defeat themselves mentally in very creative ways to avoid the dreaded eyes of the masses. Our parents were raised on simple rules — get a job, save your money, live happily ever after. They passed those values onto us, and only now, over the past few years, we are understanding that their ways may not exactly be for us. There are several thought leaders who have pressed this point home over and over (Tim, James, Tucker, Ashley, Robert, and many more). I know at least five people, without even thinking about it, who are more talented at something than I am at anything — well maybe not anything, but you get my drift — who defeated themselves over and over as I tried to convince them that they could/should share their gift with the world in a bold manner. People get so creative in telling themselves why they can’t do something, it should be recognized as a disease.

 

 

4. People are fuckin lazy. The average person would rather live comfortably with a not-great-but-not-that-bad reality than step into the darkness and uncertainty of going for broke doing something that most people don’t do, wouldn’t do and don’t understand (until it’s successful). As Tony Robbins said, people don’t start living until they face death. And as this Fuck Tony Robbins! post says, you’d be better off finding motivation more efficiently than that.

5. Because people are afraid of risk and don’t want all the responsibility and don’t want the attention and are lazy. So they come up with all kids of bullshit rationalizations for doing, nothing. I don’t have money. I don’t have experience. I have no credentials to do what _____ does. I don’t know what I would even say (after just pouring their mind out to me and I subsequently suggested they share their ideas/thoughts/passions with the world)! Blogs are free. So is YouTube and Tumblr and whatever else shit you (would) like to use to express yourself. I remember exactly one thing from my sixth-grade teacher, a quote she had us rite down: “Excuses are monuments to nothingness.” Want to build a statue to honor your fear or laziness? Make another excuse. Go ahead, I dare you.

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When you’re an employee, you will never get paid 100% of your actual effort and output — if you did, it would not make finical sense to have you as an employee. For those who don’t understand, follow this example.

Your job pays you $100 per day. If the work you do is worth $99 per day (or anything less), then having you on payroll is losing the company money: it costs more to have you than to not have you — this employee gets fired, and fast. If your work brings in exactly $100 then the company breaks even — you’ll be fired too. Companies don’t get into business to break even. If having you on payroll is not a net-plus for them — i.e., whatever value you bring is more than they have to actually kick back to you (meaning, your paycheck), you’re not worth having.

Which means this: If you have a job, right now, you are being pimped (doesn’t make you a bad person — it’s happening to most people actually). Whatever your boss pays you is less than you are actually worth to the business — that’s why they keep you around, to keep exploiting your time and effort, while paying you less than you’re making them (and they are keeping the difference. That’s all having employees is for, plain and simple). You may be wondering if this applies to all employees, and yes it does. LeBron James makes about $16 million from his employer the Miami Heat; he’s worth about $75-100 per season to not only the Heat but the entire NBA (That discrepancy allows for lesser NBA players who don’t move the needle to make more than they’re worth, making them a very tiny exception to this rule. But that’s an entirely different discussion, and you’re not in the NBA). LeBron is still very rich, but the real money is the guy signing LBJ’s checks. If he can pay one of his employees $16 million guess how much he’s making?

—–

When you take charge and run your own shit, you are in charge. All eyes are on you. People will watch and talk about you; maybe — maybe —  some of it will be positive. You will be uncertain. You will feel fear and pain. You will look at the safety net of a/your current job and think — hard — about giving up on yourself and taking the safe bet. You’ll have all kinds of bitch-ass excuses popping into your head for turning back and running away. We’ve all be through it. This inflection point, if you will, will make or break you.

Because when you start/run your own brand or business, you reap all the benefits. You receive all the fruits of your labor. You cannot get fired. You can hire your own employees — and there will be many willing takers. You can do things the way you want to do them. You can say what you want to say. You have your own power.

But not everyone wants this — see points 1-4 above. You can work for someone else for the rest of your life if you wish, and be leveraged to build their dream instead of yours. you can be paid less than what you’re worth if you wish. You can believe all of your own excuses and reason for why you’re not worthy of being the person in the front. And that’s OK. Be who you are.

But know that you are making a choice.

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