How to make money, so you can do good.
Last week, we discussed the apparent dichotomy between getting money and doing good; that is, how do we make servant capitalism work for the greatest good? Since then, lots of people contacted us to ask the same question:
I want to do good, so how do I get the money to do it?
Indeed, many of these same people are actively engaged in making the world better—adopting extra children, choosing to teach in lower performing schools, traveling overseas to live and work in orphanages and women’s homes, and donating professional skills to serve elderly populations. I feel honored to know these individuals who fill in the gap left behind by government programs and handouts.
As discussed last week, vast funds are needed to accomplish some of these goals, and at the very least—people need economic freedom to volunteer their time in service of others. It’s a lesson we teach our kids every day: you can’t take care of someone else very well if you don’t first take care of yourself.
So how do you succeed financially?
Your greatest financial success lives at the intersection of three WHATs—what you love to do, what you are good at doing, and what the market needs.
It’s a question that deserves answering, and numerous online courses, MBA programs, and wealth accumulation blogs offer some great practical advice. Wisdom alone is not enough. There are prerequisites to making these programs and plans work: passion, ability, and purpose.
When I am not writing or raising my 12 kids, I am doing my day job as Chief Leadership Officer and executive coach at BASE4 where Garry is CEO. Together, we have learned a lot about success, talent, and motivation—as well as the people who make big things happen. Our experiences have created our thesis statement on financial success: Your greatest financial success lives at the intersection of three WHATs—what you love to do, what you are good at doing, and what the market needs.
Let’s break it down:
What do you love to do?
Think about it: what do you really enjoy doing—whether it seems job-worthy or not. Consider: cooking, gaming, teaching, talking, organizing, helping, arguing, designing, reading, planning, calculating, writing, and sporting. When do you feel most yourself when you do it?
Then attempt to link what you love to potential professions. This can take some thought but often is more logical than you might think. Try not to limit yourself. Loving to cook does not mean you have to be a chef but certainly that is a possibility. Food-lovers also might think about authoring cookbooks or innovating in the agriculture sector.
There are great professional counseling tools to help if you don’t know how to find your niche. As a licensed professional counselor, I use employment assessments all the time to match people’s basic personality traits and abilities to one of the thousands of jobs available to pursue. The O’Net website lists endless careers by type, interest, skill, need, and more.
My son, Garret, worried for years about what he wanted to do. Being on the spectrum, he perseverated on marine life for nearly two decades. Once in high school, he realized that although he liked fish, he did not like the scientific research required to turn his passion for marine life into a career. That was when we noticed that he had begun to chat about politics as passionately as fish, often retelling us news updates and debating the latest issues. He speaks about it so much that we often need to ask him to change topics. It soon became clear that pursuing political science and law not only satisfied an interest area but also was a career path that fit his internal makeup, making it truly enjoyable.
What are you good at doing?
Just because you like something does not make it your immediate career choice.
Just because you like something does not make it your immediate career choice. My daughter, Shiya, loves to sing and sing loudly. At church, you hear her sing the hymns from rows away. But Shiya is not a good singer. She is a rare soul that cannot hear and match notes or pitches, even when she knows the tune. Enter dream-crushing parents. When she asked about becoming a singer, we had to tell it to her straight: No, you do not sing well!
This is hard to do and equally difficult to hear. But we must. All of us are gifted in a few areas and not good at most everything else. That’s life. We have some skills and natural talents, but no one can master everything. In fact, the young generations have so much choice that they often feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of alternatives in front of them.
Let’s get real, just because we can choose to pursue any career in life does not mean that we should.
Finding what you are good at doing requires you getting honest feedback from those who know you best. Find your trusted advisers and ask them where you shine. Sometimes you do not see the truth where others view you clearly. When we deflated Shiya’s dreams of diva-ness, we also pointed out where she does have great interest and talent. Most times throughout the day you will find Shiya sitting at her desk sketching. She sketches in her room, on napkins, at school, and anywhere she finds paper. From her earliest days until now she has drawn thousands of people and faces. She is extraordinary at it, and we told her so.
Which leads me to the final WHAT.
What does the market need?
Just because we love something and are good at doing it does not mean automatic career success. The third WHAT is crucial because if we follow passion and talent only—we might end up frustrated and broke. Case in point: there is not a large enough market demand for sketch artists. Should Shiya choose this career, she likely won’t become financially free and ready to do good. Together we mapped out together the intersection of her abilities and interests with the market need for architects. You see, right now there is a resurgence in the field of architecture, where art, technology, and innovation are leading the way to house the world’s burgeoning population. Shiya’s career goal is now architect, which marries her interest, skills, and market need. She can’t wait to start high school in an architecture-focused program.
Find your niche, adjust the angle of your career path, and try new things.
You likely are not in high school or starting your career, thinking the information is great—if only my parents had pointed me in the right direction when I started out. Still, you can do the same Formula 3 exercise: What do you love? What are you good at? What does the market need? Find your niche, adjust the angle of your career path, and try new things.
I (Jodi) did this after I had children and realized that my desire for helping people (that landed me in a ministry role) did not offer much financial success. I readjusted and shifted from my counseling position to an executive leadership coach, which garnered much more pay. I make more money doing what I inherently love: supporting people as they become more phenomenal humans. Plus—now I can afford offer pro-bono counseling to anyone who needs it. Get Money Do Good.
Garry grew up loving construction and being a math wiz. He asked his high school counselor how to major in building construction in college, which wasn’t a thing. The result she gave him: engineering. Most engineers do well, but Garry found a way to build better, harnessing the power of technology—which he adores—into the building field. The result is his successful firm BASE4 and the launching of STONEPILE Construction College dedicated to help others earn their degrees and find financial success in the construction industry.
The stories can go on and on, so we will leave it here for now (until our upcoming leadership book fills in the rest).
Want to talk it over? Feel free to contact us for career consulting any time. It’s free (because we make enough on in our day jobs!).
Drs. Garry and Jodi Vermaas