From Russ Henneberry, Founder of theCLIKK:
I had an important realization about a decade ago, and it sent me on a path to greater freedom and security, not to mention income. I share the short version here to illustrate a point that I hope is similarly helpful to you in some way.
Ditch the math. Double down on the art.
10 years ago, I was doing freelance digital marketing for about a dozen clients. I was swamped in work but not making much money. I decided to send a simple four-word email to my clients:
“What does Russ do?”
I was disappointed by the answers I received. Things like…
- “Russ fixes things.”
- “Russ makes sure things don’t break.”
- “Russ adds tags to my website to get more search engine traffic.”
To each of my customers, I did Math, by which I mean (A) work which could be completed from an instruction manual or (B) work with only a single correct outcome. It doesn’t matter who is doing “2+2 work” because the only correct answer is “4”—and nobody cares what they think because “4” is also the only meaningful answer.
You vs. The Lowest Bidder
The rate that someone can charge simply to follow instructions (or do work of that type) will naturally move towards zero. After all, there’s only one solution to the problem… why pay more for the solution when someone else can get you to the same place for less?
We joke about this, but it’s true: automation will eventually subsume all jobs whose essential requirement is “following the manual.” That’s the natural and logical extension of the previous paragraph; before long, nobody will be able to bid lower than a robot for a lever-pulling wage.
Become the Artist
It doesn’t need to happen today, but keep your eyes peeled for the work that has no single solution. Get involved with conversations that require interpretation, perspective, experience, and abstract thinking. This is Art.
It is often the Artist who creates new Math.
While you could be (and often will be) the one executing on that Math, put it on your short list of to-dos to move those tasks to someone who bids lower.