January 9th, 2014
Why Your Bank Account Is The Least Relevant Thing On The Planet
I just wanted to write and say congrats on the killer/amazeballs/financially lucrative/ridic-out-
How do I know you had a killer/amazeballs/financially lucrative/ridic-out-
Because you keep telling me.
And as an online business owner myself, I know why you’re doing this.
You want to communicate to me the types of changes I might be able to see in my life if I hired you/bought your program/joined your mastermind/read your book/subscribed to your podcast/watched your videos.
You’re creating trust by being “transparent.” You’re giving me a case study with the subject being yourself.
From a marketing point of view, it’s smart.
But from a human point of view, it’s a bit disheartening.
Because the truth of the matter is that I don’t care how much money you make. Not really.
I mean maybe part of me does, but that’s the part that is a glutton for punishment. The insecure part of me that is going to compare my success to the success you’ve decided to share with me so that I can compare myself to it and feel bad.
But that part isn’t my true self.
And what my true self wants is to see YOU. Not your bank account.
I want to know how you treat your girlfriend when you get in a fight. Or how often you call your mom.
I want to know what you did this year when your program failed. Or when your book sold only 15 copies (and ten of them were to your mom). Or when the hundredth publishing house slammed the door in your face.
I want to know the handful of clients that DIDN’T hire you. Or how often you cried yourself to sleep at night wondering if this dream you have is EVER going to allow you to live the life you truly want.
Because that is REAL.
I want to know the changes your clients have seen. I want to see (and feel) the difference you are making in the world.
I don’t care how much money you make. I care how much difference you make. (Tweet This)
Because I know that ultimately, that’s the reason you’re in business. To make a difference.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think it’s really amazing that you’ve increased your revenue by 5,000%
Growth like that IS something to be super proud of, and I might even be inclined to hire you. So please keep celebrating that.
But do that with your boyfriend and your mom and your mastermind group. Not me.
You might ask…”well, how do I communicate what I’m trying to communicate with you then?”
And the answer is easy. Be real. Be true. Be truly authentic.
Show me your heart. Or your Wildheart, if you’ve got one. Your tears. Be present and amazing with your clients and let THEM tell me.
Do it through your creations. Your talent. Your skills. Your vulnerability and stories. Do it through your confidence.
And true confidence doesn’t need to tell you it’s confident. You know by looking at it. (tweet this)
The world will not be changed by you having more money in your account. The world will be changed by your ability to affect another human being. So tell me about that.
That’s what Oprah does. Or Marie Forleo. Or Will Smith. I have no idea how much money they make. And I like it that way. I don’t care.
I know I’m probably the minority here. I bet a lot of people are super inspired by your transparency.
But me…I know better. That’s not true transparency.
And when you show me yours…I’ll show you mine (money that is).
I don’t want to be a subject of smart marketing. I want to be so inspired by your vision and who you truly are that I can’t help but throw my hard earned 55% increased 2013 dollars at you.
So, Online Business Owner, cheers to 2014. I’m sure it’ll be financially off the hook for you, again. But unless you show me some skin, I won’t be showing you the money.
Love and $$$$$$,
What do you guys think? Do you like it when business owners tell you how much money they make? Does it inspire you? Or make you feel bad? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
P.s. In my book, vulnerability is the name of the game. It might be the hardest thing to do on the planet. But it’s also the thing that is the closest you’ll ever be to truth. And THAT’S what my Wildheart Revolution is all about. Living your most exciting, truthful, vulnerable, and full life.
Doors are opening back up again this month. So make sure you’re on the list to grab the first seats available.
I disagree, but only to an extent. I think in YOUR line of work, and similar lines of work, that kind of transparency works well in building that rapport with your clients. In the line of work I’m in, I’m not so convinced that talking about how FEW copies of this DVD (that I have 5 THOUSAND copies of sitting in my warehouse) I have sold is going to do anything for me. Just the fact that it’s my main hype item and the first thing on my Facebook page (permanently pinned to the top) is already telling people more than they need to know.
Silly me, I’m going to spend ANOTHER $500 on a bulk order of DVDs (a different one, but still, logic and common sense should tell me, “Hey, DUMMY…do you REALLY want to sit on MORE DVDs you can’t get rid of??”, but I’m a glutton for punishment, and really, as new DVDs, they can technically sit, as they will only get older…nonetheless, in this business, it’s all about the hype. Talk about how the title only has a few copies left. Talk about how we have an exclusive deal with the distributor. Talk about how we have more add-ons than anyone else. Talk about how the site is shaping up nicely, even when you’re cheesed that it looks like arse.
In the world of professional wrestling, many in the business will tell you that you have to “work the marks” all the time, whether it be staying in character, or not associating with the “fan favourites” when you’re a rulebreaker, so as not to destroy “kayfabe” (the illusion of reality). In this line of work, talking about failures is the kiss of death.
Perhaps MessyWorks can afford to be a bit more honest like that, since it’s all about gaining the trust and respect of the women who perform on camera, and let them know it’s “ok” to look silly performing, and that it isn’t some sort of thing taking the world by storm, because in that business, there’s a lot more transparency expected, and it’s appreciated by the talent, and the fans and followers.
Long post short, like everything else in life (and business), it’s all about knowing your audience, and adjusting your “spiel” to what is most effective, and to what they will most respond.
You make a REALLY great point about knowing your audience and I actually agree with you.
And perhaps when I see this and get turned off by it, I’m not those people’s ideal customer. Because while in my line of work, and theirs, I do believe transparency is SUPER important, it’s the kind of transparency that I can FEEL is true that I respond to the most.
If I feel they are JUST telling me how much money they make because they want to sell to me and it feels that way, I won’t buy from them. But if they tell me and it feels like it’s coming from a sincere place (and everything else about them lines up to seem authentic and vulnerable) then I’ll hire them.
So I think you’re right. It depends on the person who’s saying it and who their customer is. And of course…nothing is across the board. There are always exceptions to the rule.
Thanks so much for the discussion.
I agree with Sally very much on this! I also see your point, Gregory, but I don’t think Sally is suggesting that anyone advertise their failures. When she wrote this “I want to know what you did this year when your program failed. Or when your book sold only 15 copies (and ten of them were to your mom). Or when the hundredth publishing house slammed the door in your face.” I took it as one example. And hey, if you’re a good coach, you can probably expose this in a way that is progressive and positive.
I know you mean. I used to always tell my employees “You don’t need to point out your flaws. Accentuate your good stuff.” And I agree with that still. I don’t think that Sally is telling anyone to point out their short-comings. Truthfully, they aren’t “mistakes” or failures if you can really learn from them anyway.
When people are transparent and go on about how awesome they are (without any real back-up), I just feel like… ummm.. okay… they’re the last person who needs my hard-earned money. I mean, I’d rather go on a fun expensive vacation than send them on one. I recently unsubscribed to Peggy McColl because I am so sick of her talking herself up and how many houses she could buy and how much money she makes. Great, I get it, you’re successful (and annoying). And, I’m not afraid to admit that yes, it really can cause me to compare myself at time and feel worse, but mostly, I don’t think this person can be of real help to me, because they are just overly concerned with themselves and how perfect they are.
Overall.. I took Sally’s post to say “Tell me something good… that’s REAL. And helpful”. I did not think that she was saying “Tell me that you bombed”. Of course that isn’t good for business.
Great post Sally!
Jill…WOW. I love every single word of your post and you’re absolutely right. that is EXACTLY where I’m coming from.
I love what you said about taking yourself on a vacation rather than sending someone else on one. That is exactly the sentiment.
When business owners do this to the annoying degree you mentioned (“I’m so awesome! I’m so rich! Look at all the trips I get to go on! And things I get to buy!!”) it makes me want to puke.
That is exactly what prompted this post. It’s not for the people who are working their asses off and showing you the full spectrum of life. It’s for those annoying posts that are “Look at me I’m so great!!!” disguised as “let me help you and take you ‘behind the scenes’ of a REAL business”.
You absolutely picked up what I was putting down. Thank you for your comment. And I hope we get to take ourselves on a fancy vacation together in the near future. Bali?? :)
I concur with you both, and think it all falls into knowing your audience. I agree that seeing your boss with his frequent flier miles going to Maui or Vegas or some other tourist-type destination every 60 or 90 days IS ultra-annoying (I wouldn’t know, I don’t like vacations and time off. Time off is for people that need to get away from what they do. I happen to enjoy spending every moment I breathe doing what I do).
I also agree that trumpeting the money issue just to say how much the company made is often irrelevant. If I think all you want out of my is my wallet, then YES, I have no interest in you. I do know I’m guilty of taking language literally. I know I’ve done things wrong in the past, but as I have said multiple times, there’s not a how-to guide to being the first guy to do something. Wanna run a Dunkin’ Donuts? GREAT! There’s 15 million guides and 27 billion people that do it. Not my interest. I’m a Firestarter. I do things DIFFERENT. It’s part of why I’ve made mistakes in the past. However, I move on.
I agree, Jill, that Oprah does NOT need my donation to her “angel network” when she’s topping Forbes “most wealthy” list. I’ll keep the pennies in my couch, thanks. YOU put in YOUR billions, and leave ME alone. Begging for money doesn’t do me anything. There’s a Brother in my Masonic Lodge who keeps passing out cards for his firearms training courses for conceal carry. While we have a good mix of younger and older brothers, whipping out his stack of cards every moment smacks of desperation. I do the soft sell. I put out there what I do, and it’s up to you to tell me there’s interest. I don’t need to go after people who have no interest. That’s not to say I won’t hype the crap out of what I do, because self-promotion is a part of promotions, and that’s what I’m good at. You can think what you want about my finances. Besides, in this business, probably 1% of all the pro wrestlers in the world wrestle full time with no other income source. I don’t sit there and say, “Gregory Dennis, burger flipper at McDonald’s” on my profiles, because IT’S NOT ANY OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS WHAT MY DAY JOB IS! That’s not what I’m hyping. Besides the fact that so few people actually CARE about Joe’s day job, I think it’s better to hype what you REALLY do (or what you WANT to really do, depending).
Somewhere along the way, you’ll make the connections you need to get you to that next step. I get it almost all the time, really. It’s next baby steps, sure, but I have a certain vision, and while I know it’s against every single piece of advice ever written, I want to do it myself for now. There will be a time when I can bring on others, but I can’t see where I could bring on someone, and not end up doing most of it on my own anyhow. This isn’t something that’s an easy sell as a business. If you don’t understand this business FIRST, I’ll end up spending more time teaching you the basics so you “get” it then is really worth it. How do I know? Because I’ve done it.
It’s not a criticism of Sally, and it’s not JUST taking her column literally, it’s merely the statement of you have to know who you are talking to. If you’re a woman in a group of guys, the last thing you’re going to interest them with is your gynecological issues. No one cares. Just like you likely aren’t going to care about a discussion a bunch of guys are having about what “individual” they stuck their in last night and why they drip as a result. It’s a turn-off.
Coaching means being transparent, and that’s great for coaching, I am sure. I’m not a coach, and don’t want to be one. Coaching advice doesn’t work for me. Again, it all circles back to knowing your audience. THAT is my point. Sally and I just state it differently. She is talking mainly to her coaching audience. I get to be “Counterpoint” because I’m not.
p.s.- Sorry for all they typos. I didn’t meant to rush, but I have to get a couple orders out this morning and I really wanted to comment and knew if I didn’t do it now, I might not get to it later.
Hey Sally, maybe it was the way I was raised but I’ve always felt that talking about your own money is rude and the opposite of classy. It’s different if it’s a private convo with people you trust, but shouting it from the rooftops? Totally unnecessary. There are lots of ways to celebrate success or seek help with financial struggles without getting into dollars and cents or units sold. Two bloggers I love who are clearly successful, and humble, are Sherry and John over at Young House Love. We see their success when they excitedly talk about new projects and opportunities that have come their way but it’s always relevant to their blog and it’s never over the top. Very classy.
Maggie…I love that you brought in the word “classy.” It’s one of my favorite words. And I agree with you.
I think there is DEFINITELY a confident and classy way to talk about successes and share in celebration of things you’re proud of without being like “I’m so awesome because I made x amount of dollars.”
I am totally on board with making money by making the world a better place, as I’m guessing a lot of business owners are. But I don’t feel the need to let anyone look at my exact numbers and I don’t want to see anyone elses.
There’s an awesome convo going on on Twitter right now about this, but me and a friend were talking about what to share and why. And we came up with this: share with your people what is going to inspire, help, motivate, make their lives better, make them think, and make them feel better about themselves.
Thanks for telling me about Young House Love. I’m gonna go check them out!
you are asking people to focus on quality of life, here I’ll show you mine… all bank accounts and credit cards considered My net worth is -$2,145 but I do exactly what I want when I want, I travel, I get to make my friends awesome Christmas gifts and I’m growing 3 businesses. I only work with the clients I want to. My life rocks and it is getting better every day (as is my bottom line, I’m not promoting staying in debt) but i am saying being in debt is part of the ride! The thin times teach you more than the thick times ever will, most importantly those thin times make you smart with money. I’d argue without bottoming out your bank account a few times you will never sustain abundance. We could have a WHOLE conversation about bootstrapping versus getting funding early in your career… well honestly Joseph would be a better person to talk to about that.
You’re right, not every thing is sunshine and rainbows, I’ve also had my work copied, stolen, I’ve been lied too, I’ve been fired, I’ve blown money on the wrong type of cinnamon #toothpowderproblems I’ve written bad contracts, I accidentally double charged people for thousands of dollars (thank god that’s easy to fix) I’ve totally dropped the ball on a speaking engagement. I am grateful for all of these things because I now have the experience to know better and the confidence to be real with my clients, and they really appreciate that. I’d say the #1 difference in my rate of “success” is the point that I stopped fearing fucking up.
So I think you’ve hit an important meme here, the more we talk about screw ups, the less scary they become for everyone. It would be cool to have a WHR meme where when you interview successful people you ask them for a 1 liner about a mistake they learned from and put the text over a picture of them then make up a hashtag for it maybe like #realtalk …you can come up with something better than that, I haven’t finished my coffee yet
I love that you brought this up, Sally! Being in the world of marketing myself, I truly believe there’s SUCH a fine line between being transparent and being fake-transparent for the sake of the sale.
I actually love reading about how much people make (but usually only when it’s on the low-end and something I can relate to) because it inspires me. I love to know that HEY – it IS possible. But I only like it when (as you mentioned) it’s part of a bigger marketing package, and not their main or only selling point. ICK.
HOWEVER, to be honest with you, I just re-launched my website and re-wrote all my copy and the LAST line I included on one of my sales pages was a line about how I’ve tripled my income in the last six months. It’s not a specific figure (so people don’t know if I was making $100 or $100k six months ago) but I seriously wrote it, took it out & wrote it in again about five times.
I think you and Greg make great points about knowing your target market. Obviously, my target clients (women biz owners) want to know that by having me write their copy, they’ll see an ROI – in dollars.
BUT you’ve given me a lot to think about…’cause my target market ALSO wants to make a mark on the world, so now I’m wondering…how can I highlight what OTHER benefits my clients have seen? Time and money are great, sure. But what about touching other’s lives in important ways they may not have been able to otherwise? Like, what about the client who was able to sell multiple 6-month mentorships and help her own clients leave abusive relationships? What about the client who raised awareness about an important social issue because I wrote her an amazingly poignant autoresponder series?
I think this stuff is equally as important to my prospects and current clients, and I’m excited to think of ways to highlight it more in my marketing.
I love this conversation & will continue to follow it! xo
I personally like the line, “what about touching other’s lives in important ways they may not have been able to otherwise?”, and what follows as your examples. If I were you, I’d be posting to places where you have the most visibility about encouraging your people to tell you their stories; how did you touch their lives. Then, get permission to copy all that and put it on your site. Best kind of “Work with me” feedback I would want. Best kind of testimonial.
I have a great thing on my LinkedIn from a guy I’ve worked with in the past about knowing my product, and for me, THAT’s the kind of thing that’s important. I checked out your site, and I think that if you can get people to talk about you, that would be cool. Don’t ask for “testimonials”, because people think they have to be all wordy and professional and write a certain length and will get writers block and worry it’s not good enough and that nonsense. But if you were to say something like, “Hey, peeps…you hear me talk alot, but I wanna hear YOU guys talk! Tell me about how something I said or did has touched you and how”, and then when they reply, privately ask if you can copy it.
It sounds (to me) Sally-esque, but it’s also very simple.
GREAT post Sally and I want to acknowledge the bravery it took to write this (at least I’m imagining that it took a wee bit of courage). In our online world it’s become “the thing” to reveal your bottom line. And I think it’s exactly what you say – show me what’s real. That’s the key. It’s really individual whether someone’s money talk annoys you or pushes your buttons. So I think just using your own intuition and deciding if they resonate with you or not is the best, best practice out there.
I personally have had a very strenuous relationship with money. Being a perpetual underearner, wanting others to rescue me and not feeling worthy of abundance (in my bank account and otherwise). It’s taken A LOT of work, mostly over the last year, to unpack a lot of that stuff. And so I’ve bared my financial soul to close friends, my partner, and a few online groups that I’m a part of (where we’re all doing the same thing). I’ve even thought about doing a blog post about it. I think the difference between this kind of revealing and the kind you’re talking about, is authenticity .And it’s about lessons learned, not showboating how much or how little I have.
I’m not necessarily turned off by people telling me how much they make. But it certainly isn’t something I would do. And I tend to not be drawn to those people. I’ve joined a few online courses where the leader did this and it just felt a bit over the top – even though I’m sure it was coming from a good place.
I guess I’m a mixed bag on this subject. But I’m thoroughly in your camp of keepin’ the shit real. Thank you for another amazing post with some powerful, soulful insight (as per usual).
Love you girl!
I love this, thoughts about money and ‘transparency’ and talking about it (and the motives BEHIND it) have been rattling around in my brain for weeks now.
I’m a money making expert and business coach – but, I ALWAYS strive to talk about income and money in terms of impact and value. And when we as women are earning more, what’s unlocked in our lives.
As someone who teaches others about HOW to do this, I want to be clear with my audience (like Erica above) that I am GOOD at this and working with me is worth it because look what I’ve done for myself. BUT, in a really dig in and do the work kinda way. No magic steps, just raw strategy and work.
So it’s a big topic for me, but I love what you said about making it feel real. There’s totally a way to do that, and I aspire to be part of that real, grounded, oh shit my last product launch did meh, conversation around women earning money. This article is a great conversation starter, thanks for being brave and pushing post.
This –> “I want to know the changes your clients have seen. I want to see (and feel) the difference you are making in the world.”
And this –> “I don’t care how much money you make. I care how much difference you make.”
And this –> “I don’t want to be a subject of smart marketing. I want to be so inspired by your vision and who you truly are that I can’t help but throw my hard earned 55% increased 2013 dollars at you.”
I love you, Ms Wildheart! Keep speaking your mind and keep wildheartin’ til the end of time! xo.
I’d love to know if you think my marketing comes across this way.
I agree that for Wildheart it doesn’t make sense to talk about how well your business is going. You’re all about the heart.
For me, it’s important for my clients to know that I’ve had business success (and failure) because I coach entrepreneurs. They want to know I’ve been there, done that.
Different strokes for different folks? Or as some other comments have said: know thy audience?
What do you think Sally Hope?
Ooooh David…AWESOME question. And I think it’s less about talking about money and more about how you talk about it.
I think building street cred is cool…especially if you’re a business coach or a money making coach like Ellen Ercolini from above.
I do believe it’s important for the people who hire us to know that we’ve had experiences that will inform and help our skills with them.
I think where it gets sticky for me is when it seems like it’s more on the “look at me!” vibe than the “hey…I’ve been there” vibe. To me, those are totally different things. And as an intuitive person, I can tell the difference.
So to answer your question, I don’t see your marketing this way…AND I’m also not your target market I think. AND, I think street cred is cool. But don’t be lame about it. Which you’re totally not. :)
Thanks. And entrepreneurs like you are totally my market. Love your work. Love your questioning. Love your openness and honesty. Love you, Sally Hope xo
I love this. I do think that sometimes the ppl who share their numbers have shared about their failures in the past, but I also think that sometimes they share their failures only after they’ve had success bc I guess it’s safe at that point. The question I have is what is unsafe about sharing our failures before they’ve just been stumbling blocks on the road to success? I believe we are all a little obsessed with the result and getting there when we should be more willing to truly honor the journey. And that includes celebrating someone who is trying and failing bc…guess what…it’s just part of the journey. Is the end result more important? I don’t think so. There is this sweet spot…when U dust yourself off and try again that seems to far outweigh the tallying up o success. This is inspiring me to find more time to blog bc I want ppl to remember that life is an adventure just like we see in the movies. Each person has a unique adventure. Love ur candor Sally!
I can’t list the ways I agree with you, cause it’s off the chart on the yes.
The thing is there is such pressure to play this game: even though I swore at the start I wouldn’t talk about how much I earn, it keeps coming up.
I’ve been in this position so many times, when being interviewed by journalists and bloggers: when they ask “how much does your business earn” I usually make a joke about having lived in England too long to be able to reply to that question. If pushed I reply vaguely with “more than I did in a job” or the number of figures or whatever it is they need for the story, but that’s as far as it goes.
But the real reason I don’t like to reply anything in except vague terms is because it’s a dangerous slope. As soon as I start to be defined publicly by the amount I earn, then I start to take on a portion of that identity. Just a little bit. And then it grows. And then you end up chasing something because that’s what you do, and you’ve confused what you do with who you are.
(I know this because I played that game briefly and then really, really didn’t like who I was becoming, so stopped. Don’t go there, lovelies, your soul is worth more than that).