In A Money Pickle?
Do you feel queasy about your opportunities to make money? Is lack of cash flow causing you to second-guess your talent and professional worth?
Stop. It’s time to look at your situation differently.
When Money is scarce, special precautions need to be taken so that you don’t drive your Mojo away. Creative Thinkers,especially writers and artists, need to build a protective firewall between money issues and the interior space where creativity is nurtured. Always remember that your Mojo is sort of funny about your relationship with Money. If you get too starry-eyed or frantic about pursuing the Mighty Dollar, Mojo will dump you like a jealous fiancé.
Now, wait a minute. That doesn’t mean walking on eggshells about Money for fear that you’ll upset your Mojo. Money is not a taboo topic. Clearly, we’re in a very tough and changing economic season. You need Money and you deserve to be paid appropriately for your Talent. However, you can unwittingly cross a big line with your Mojo if your relationship with Money somehow means Money rules, and Passion and Talent are demoted to second-class citizens. Mojo hates that kind of Money Pickle.
I learned about the Money Pickle firsthand. Years ago, I was asked to do an important writing project for my Beverly Hills mentor. My mentor’s new client was cash poor, but product rich. Somehow when the deal was done, I was promised a premium payment, but the currency was destined to be mostly pickles—gallons of fancy-schmancy gourmet pickles that required refrigeration for both shipping and storing.
On the front end, I didn’t care. I was metaphorically hungry enough to accept the pickle offer because I thought it was a chance for my Talent to do great things. The local economy was in a rough patch and assignments were sparse, so I had time on my hands. I liked pickles. I needed some good, creative fun. The project intrigued me and I vividly imagined that I could help find a way to take those pickles to the Big Time.
Soon enough, I recognized that pickle payments were not the same as cash.
Truth be told, I began to resent the pickles. Every time I wrote something new for the client, a special gallon of appreciation showed up at my front door. A new gallon came every week, specially packed to keep it cold. So many gallons showed up that I began having heart races whenever I spotted the UPS truck anywhere near my house. When there was no room for milk in my refrigerator, I began to ask friends and neighbors if they could store the pickles in their refrigerators for me. Then I began to ask them if they would eat the pickles for me, too.
The universal “Money Pickle” transformed itself into literal pickles for me. Every time I saw the shipping costs of the pickles delivered to my door, I wanted to cry about Money. Those shipping expenses exceeded the amount I was paid to write the promotional material that represented the entire pickle company. Right or wrong, I began to tell my Talent that it was doomed to be paid in pickles for eternity. I also told myself that my Talent and Passion had made an unforgivable mistake accepting the pickle assignment.
I can’t blame my Mojo for going on vacation when I upgraded the status of Money and sharply downgraded the status of my Passion and Talent.
At the time, I woke up many mornings maddened that there was no conceivable way to pay the light bill with unopened jars of pickles. Late at night, after munching those preserved cucumbers and writing about how really tasty they were, I went to sleep wondering why the economic problems of the region had to invade my creative corner to punish me personally with so many pickles.
My Mojo did not return until I stopped focusing on Money at the expense of my Passion and Talent. When Passion and Talent were restored to their rightful positions, Mojo returned. And Money appeared almost magically from the sidelines.
Today, I don’t regret taking on the pickle assignment. It could have been worse…say, a thousand baloney sandwiches or a few hundred blocks of government cheese. I know now that the fabulous work I did for that pickle company paid off in a dozen ways, including real money a little farther down the road. I’m also proud that when push came to shove, I did stand by the spirit of my rate card, even if I did substitute pickles for cash. In the end, my Talent and Passion were proven right. My work for the pickles became an important, tangible part of my platform. I was one of the behind-the-scenes people those pickles thanked profusely when they made it to their version of the Big Time—a shiny, refrigerated shelf in the upscale stores of the largest grocery chain in Southern California.
Here are 5 tips about Money and Mojo that my pickle problem taught me:
1. If the buyer of your service is cash poor and product rich…don’t lower your rates, ask for something they can provide in lieu of money.
2. Hungry for work or not, be careful about what you will accept in lieu of money…think hard about how many pickles you can really personally consume and be ready to step away.
3. If your Talent and Passion think some crazy-sounding effort is worth doing, they’re probably right…don’t let Money stop you and never criticize yourself for taking a chance.
4. If your Mojo leaves you at the altar of a job you’re contractually committed to do, do your best anyway. Skill is capable of working alone even when Talent and Passion turn out the lights for the day.
5. When economic times are tough and traditional opportunities are few and far between, don’t give up. In down times and in between paying gigs, spend your time building your platform, one block at a time. Invest in yourself…you are worth it.