In The Exposure Economy, Harold Jarche shares a few points that have him sounding “grumbly” about making money from his intellectual property. As a blogger who has essentially given away tons of content for free with little financial benefit–wait,wait, don’t say that about my content! Be nice!–I have enjoyed the benefits of exposure.
Last week I was twice asked to work for free. In each case the person asking me to work for ‘exposure’ was a salaried employee. My bank has yet to accept exposure as a form of payment.
Like they say, entrepreneurs have to work on their business and not in their business. Peter Drucker said that, “The purpose of any business is to create and keep a customer.” Customers are not people who ask you to work for free. I call these charities, and I support several.
These days, my exposure just gets me name-recognition. My consulting business has dwindled, but to be honest, I’m enjoying working full-time as a technology director. Still, it’s been curious to watch colleagues monetize their work and effort, becoming entrepreneurs. For me, the choice always seemed to be one or the other. Can you really sell what you are passionate about? I found the choice too stark, black or white. Perhaps I never asked the right question…how can I make money and do what I love? The truth is, I do that every day in my “day job.”
When pondering work, I’m always drawn back across time to my teenage years, when I stumbled to a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. At seventeen, I remember receiving the print copy that still sits on my shelf from the first girl I was infatuated with while on a travel tour in Europe. How funny to peer back with middle-aged eyes to that time so long past.
I love Kahlil Gibran’s words On Work:
You work that you may keep pace with the earth and the soul of the earth.
For to be idle is to become a stranger unto the seasons,
and to step out of life’s procession, that marches in majesty and proud submission towards the infinite.
When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music.
Which of you would be a reed, dumb and silent, when all else sings together in unison?
Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune.
But I say to you that when you work you fulfil a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born,
And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life,
And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.
But if you in your pain call birth an affliction and the support of the flesh a curse written upon your brow, then I answer that naught but the sweat of your brow shall wash away that which is written.
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart,
even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection,
even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy,
even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead
are standing about you and watching.
Often have I heard you say, as if speaking in sleep, “He who works in marble, and finds the shape of his own soul in the stone, is nobler than he who ploughs the soil.
And he who seizes the rainbow to lay it on a cloth in the likeness of man, is more than he who makes the sandals for our feet.”
But I say, not in sleep but in the overwakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.
Work is love made visible.
And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.
For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.
And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine.
And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.
But it is Gibran’s words On Giving that most resonate regarding work…”For to withhold is to perish.” Powerful words…the tree gives until it can’t.
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
I pray my giving endures until the final twig lies broken on the ground. If pay comes for that, won’t that be nice?
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