Make More Value, Not Money

Oakland, 2015
Oakland, 2015

We all want more money.

But no matter how much money we have, we always want more.

I always thought to myself: if I wanted to be happier, I needed to earn more money. But in reality — the only way I’ve become happier is to create more value to others. To be more useful to others.

Also when it comes to money and wealth, the only way to become richer is to create more value for others. Because the more value you create for others, the more valuable you become. Then the more valuable your services are. The more valuable your influence. The more valuable your opinions.

What is more valuable than money?

SF, 2015
SF, 2015

Be a person of value.

If you want to earn more money in life, think about how you can be more valuable in life— rather than how you can make more money.

If you always think about how to make more money — you get distracted. You think of how to “optimize” profits, rather than to add new value. The only way to create new wealth (for everyone) is to create more value. Then by creating surplus value and wealth, you take some of the difference for yourself.

For example, let’s say that hypothetically you create $100 of new value in terms of new ideas. Then you charge your customer $50 for that idea. Then your customer will make a $50 profit, because he has only spent $50 on an idea that will earn him $50. And not only that, but you will earn $50 for that idea you created.

Expand wealth for everyone

New Orleans, 2015
New Orleans, 2015

Think to yourself— “How can I create more wealth and value for other people?”

By focusing on others (rather than yourself); you start to really think of how you can be best useful to others.

The reason why Uber is worth several billions of dollars, is because they have created surplus wealth for billions of people. They have helped empower unemployed (or under-employed) people who had no jobs, not enough money, but had extra cars. They also empowered other people who never could afford to take taxis, but can now afford to take Uber. And they have empowered individuals to no longer own cars, which means more money for them to invest in other things.

I feel the ultimate currency for the future is in ideas. Create ideas that can will help create value for others. Create ideas that will help the lives of others. Create ideas that will empower others.

How to create value (even more) value for others

Berkeley, 2015
Berkeley, 2015

We all want to create more value for others— but easier said than done.

How can we add more value to others, and to ourselves? Some ideas:

1. Find what you’re frustrated about, and try to help yourself

When I started street photography, I couldn’t find any resources on ‘how’ to shoot street photography, not get punched in the face, all while capturing ‘the decisive moment.’

The passion for this blog started as a way to teach myself. And I still consider myself a student. I just share what I learn.

What do you want to learn, but you can’t find any resources on? That is your opportunity.

2. Start from scratch

A lesson I learned from Elon Musk is to come up with new ideas from ‘first principles.’ Meaning, start off by coming up with new ideas from scratch. Rather than seeing what others have done before you, you need to start with a blank slate.

Don’t simply copy or mimic other successful people. You need to find the truth yourself.

You can only do this through experimentation, trial and error, getting feedback, and constantly innovating and new “iterations.” You need to ‘fail forward’ — to have the risk to try something that nobody has done before.

With a photo project, don’t look how others have done it before. Sit down, and think to yourself— how would you do it in today’s world? How would you think for yourself?

3. What is useful?

Lastly, if you want to create value for others— think of what is useful. Theory is nice, but practicality, utility, and ‘usefulness’ trumps everything.

You need to create ideas, products, or information that will actually help others. You need to help empower others become the best versions of themselves. You need to make people less miserable, less anxious, more innovative, more excited, and more informed.

Think to yourself: will this be useful to others? And you can start off by thinking: “Would this be useful to me?”

Be a person of value

Hong Kong, 2013
Hong Kong, 2013

When in doubt, try to create more value for others. Start off by trying to help yourself — create what you want to see in the world. What do you lack in your life? That is probably what others lack in their life.

First seek to add value to yourself to come up with ideas, and then figure out how you can add value to others.

Create surplus value for everyone, and you will become wealthy — in terms of your ideas, motivation, and also financial wealth.

You’re valuable — so share that with others.


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