Games are played when you take calculated risks, in anticipation of potential rewards. So let’s finish out this week’s discussion of game theory, careers and business by examining the risk-to-reward ratio, and how you should figure it out.
If you work with me, you do have some level of risk, because I will tell you outright that I can’t get you a job, and I won’t guarantee that you end up with one. Nothing takes that responsibility off of your shoulders. I can only offer my personal commitment to my clients, and I don’t work with every client who comes to me. I only work with those I feel I can help. To do otherwise just amounts to taking people’s money. And like I said earlier, I’m not motivated by money. I do fear not having it, but in reputational businesses like coaching, you are only as good as two things…your coaching skills and your honest commitment that if you can’t help someone, you’ll return their money. I will.
I’ve been blogging for two years and coaching professionally for year and a half, and so far (knock on wood!) no one has ever asked me for their money back. I’ve offered to return payment to a couple of clients who had a hard time getting jobs, and even offered one client more than once, but so far, I’ve never had to return a client’s payment. I don’t even have a time period on asking for it back. I may some day, but for now, I’m the Land’s End of the coaching world. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. Period.
For me, what are the risks and what are the potential rewards?
Well, here is where I’m going to be brutally honest with you about what I’ve risked to get my business and my websites to this point, and what the rewards have been.
- Left a standing position at a great university that I could have retired from.
- Left all the benefits that came with it, except for COBRA, which expired at the end of last month. Probably the most risky thing I did, because I knew that leaving a group plan might mean that I would lose my health benefits and not be able to get them back, because I have a neurological condition. We have insurance for Sarah and the kids, but I’m having to go through some hoops and am currently uninsured, though I’m hoping that will be done soon, too.
- I now have to self-fund my salary, pay all my expenses for my home, my life and my business out of savings and income, and now I have a lawyer, more insurance and an accountant. I’m not going to go into numbers here, but let’s just cut to the chase…I’ve spent way more than I’ve made, and I’ve given away at least ten times what I’ve sold. It hasn’t been easy, but I have no regrets. Not one.
- A sense of personal satisfaction when I help people get jobs they want, or into the graduate programs they hoped for.
- Less stress in my daily life, and almost complete control over my projects and my schedule.
- More time with my wife, kids, and extended family.
- More time for community activities, like Athfest, the Athens Half Marathon, and talking with people who interest me, like artists, musicians, writers, small business owners and even the homeless people who hang out on College Avenue in downtown Athens across from Holmes/Hunter Building and the Arch.
- More time to write, create, philosophize, and stir the pot, to come up with new ideas, crash old ones together, and see where the conversation goes.
Taking a look at all the above, and factoring in what I have spent, versus what I have made, you might be tempted to say I’m not winning. But you’d be thinking about the battle, while I’m thinking about the war, so you’d be wrong. I know what I am fighting to do, and why I am doing it. If you don’t understand that, then maybe you’re not playing the same game.
What rules are you playing by?