Delivering value and playing games


What does it mean to “make” money? Do you bake it like a cake? Do you cook it? Do you throw a bunch of ingredients together and call it “money”? The phrase is misleading. No wonder so many people struggle to make a living!

First of all, what is money? Money gives you the ability to get the things you need or want.

To earn a living, most people are happy to accept a position at an institution or a company, and then to earn a fixed salary for decades. Sometimes this salary is sufficient; sometimes not. If it is not enough, people think very hard about how to make more money. If they go through times when they’re not in the employ of an institution or a company, they think about it even harder. Failure is often the order of the day.

Here the value kicks in of seeing something you’re struggling with in a different light. Think about how you can create value and how you can provide it to the people who need or want it, and who are willing to pay for it. Don’t think of “making money” – think about creating value. Think about providing a valuable service. I believe most of us can come up with more ways of providing value than we can come up with vague ways of making money. To give value to others is also something that comes naturally to many people.

Of course, if you already provide value but you don’t deliver enough of it, or you don’t do it on a regular enough basis, you won’t earn enough money from it to get what you need or would like to have. Many people also find themselves in situations where they provide something that can be provided by dozens or even hundreds of other people, maybe even at a lower price.

Another way to obtain money is to master some game well enough to win more than you lose. People who hustle on the stock market play a game. They themselves may differ from this view, but at the end of the day it’s only a little less or a little more complex than Pacman, or Bubbles or any other game you play on your phone. Some people will argue that no money is involved in such games. Think of poker. Every year, millions of dollars are pushed across poker tables. Same with other card games like Blackjack, and other casino games like Roulette. These activities are all entertaining, and yet untold amounts of money exchange hands. In a similar vein, just because there’s a lot of money involved in the buying and selling of shares doesn’t make it less of a game. The same can be said of the foreign exchange market.

Ask yourself if it’s easy for you to make money. Now ask yourself whether you have mastered at least one game well enough to win more than you lose, or to play it well enough to record a new high score or reach a new level every now and then. I count myself among the masses that have always found it hard to make money. But I can think of many board, card, and electronic games that I have mastered quite well over the years. I’ve also tried my hand at speculating on a few markets. I can confirm that the idea of losing money is terrifying, but the actions you need to take to succeed are not much more complicated than succeeding at Super Mario, for example – maybe even easier, as any person who has ever played Super Mario until the final mushroom can testify.

My advice for myself and for other people who hope to improve their financial affairs is to be honest about the amount of value you provide and to how many people you provide this value, and if necessary, to make changes, or to change to a whole new market. And if you don’t see yourself in the value business or you simply want to widen your options, I suggest you familiarise yourself with a “game” that you might not find much more complicated than a good round of chess.