I did a talk in Berlin last week, on creativity.
At the end of it, one of the guys asked me question about money.
I couldn’t quite understand the question.
All I heard was “How do you something something clients something something money something something profit?”.
See, it didn’t sound like a creative question to me.
It sounded like a business question.
And my brain automatically tunes those out.
Because I’m not a businessman.
There seems to be a belief that the purpose for everyone is to make a lot of money.
That’s what we’re put on the planet to do.
So everything comes down to money.
Not for me it doesn’t.
For me it’s about being creative, doing better work, having fun, being outrageous, being excited, being alive.
Squeezing the most out of your time on the planet.
Fulfilling your potential, whatever that is.
If money does that for you, great.
That’s where you should work: in a bank, or a hedge fund, or a stock brokers, trading shares and making money.
Personally I’d find that boring.
Of course I need money, we all do.
It’s just, for me, money is a by product, not the end product.
Here’s what I know about money.
Things that are scarce cost more than things that aren’t.
So what’s scarce?
Well, ‘the best’ is always scarce.
And scarce costs more.
So all you have to do is find out what you’re best at, and do that.
And you can sell being ‘the best’ for more.
Lots and lots of people are better at money than me.
So I won’t be the best in that field.
It makes far more sense to spend every second on what I’m best at.
They have a saying in New York “If you want to pick the fruit you have to water the tree.”
That’s how money works for me.
Doing what I’m best at is watering the tree.
Picking the fruit is the money.
If I keep picking the fruit without watering the tree, pretty soon there won’t be any fruit.
So, if you want money, find out what you do best.
Then do that.
As well and as often as you can.
And you’ll become good.
And if you’re any good, people will pay you more money.
That’s how it works.
When I was a junior in advertising, I watched it happen.
Tim Delaney was creative director of BBDO.
David Abbott was creative director of DDB.
They were both great creative directors.
But they wanted to take the next step.
So they became managing directors.
This is The Peter Principle in action.
Promote someone out of the job they’re good at.
David and Tim weren’t as good at being managing directors as they had been at being creative directors.
And they didn’t enjoy it.
Luckily they were smart enough to spot it.
Both went back to being creative directors.
Both concentrated on doing what they were great at.
Eventually, both opened their own ad agencies.
Both agencies were quickly amongst the very best in the country.
In David’s case, his agency became one of the biggest and best in Europe.
Both men got rich.
Not by chasing money.
By concentrating on what made them different, what made them better.
And that’s what people will always pay more for.