Are you an expert in something? You may or may not think so, but chances are that you may be. Sometimes we take for granted all the knowledge we accumulate about a hobby or subject, and don’t realize just how valuable it may be to someone else.
One of my favorite lessons that illustrates this point is “The Story of the Repairman”. The story goes like this:
The Story of the Repairman:
A large factory is producing several thousands of dollars of goods. One day, one of the machines goes down and the boss is frantic! “We can’t go down, we’ve got orders to fill! Call a repairman at once!”
So the factory calls a local repairman to fix the machine. The repairman tells them it will $5,000 to fix the machine. In their haste, the factory agrees.
The repairman shows up to the factory and starts going over the machine. He spends a few minutes looking underneath it and checking the gauges. Then he takes out his wrench and begins to tap on the machine. After about 15 minutes of tapping in various spots, the machine starts to work again. The repairman, acknowledging a job well done, packs up his wrench and is off.
A week later the invoice for $5,000 shows up at the factory. The invoice goes to the boss’s desk for approval and he becomes furious! “The man was only here for 15 minutes! How can he charge us this much?”
So the factory calls the repairman and asks him to itemize the invoice. “This will help us get to the bottom of this.”
A few hours later, the repairman faxes over an itemized copy of the invoice. It reads as follows:
• Line Item 1 – $50 – One hour of labor
• Line Item 2 – $4,950 – Knowing where to tap on the machine with the wrench.
The Moral of the Story:
Ha – No, the moral of the story is not to totally rip off your customers. This story is meant to teach us that sometimes what we know or are able to provide to others can command a price that is far more than we think. In some situations, the traditional metric of “dollar/hour” doesn’t apply.
Think of the movie “The Social Network” that chronicles the beginning of Facebook. Lots of people know how to write programs, but it’s what Mark Zuckerberg did with his program that made it unique. At any given time, Facebook could have started charging people to use it. But instead, Zuckerberg kept it free because he knew that was the fastest way for it to catch on.
As predicted, it caught on like fire because it provided a unique value to those who used it – free access to people they wanted to keep in touch with. Not only was it valuable to the people who used it, but it also became valuable to marketers who were looking to capitalize off of the many people who were joining each day.
So instead of settling for thousands or millions in revenue, Facebook grew to a valuation in the billions. Not bad for someone who knew something about writing code and recognized the need for people to interact.
It’s Not Always About the Benjamin’s:
Remember that value is not always measured in just dollars. Sometimes what you know and your ability to share it can lead to debts of gratitude and appreciation from others. There are many forms of currency.
Readers: What do you know that could be valuable to someone else? DO you have a special talent or a lot of knowledge in one subject? Have you ever been rewarded for using this special talent?
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Photo Credit: “USA Wrenches_2” by flattop341, on Flickr