I’m reading Chris Guillebeau’s book The Art of Non-Conformity, and I’m thrilled to announce that it’s great. I knew it would be good, and even though I’m only thirty pages in, I’m shaking my head and saying things like, “Wow. Cool. This is way better than I imagined it would be. I can’t believe I’m finally reading this kind of thing. Wow.”
It sold out already! I’ll be doing a review in a few weeks, but there’s something I want to talk about first.
Chris has mentioned something a few times, at least, on his blog or possibly in his Empire Building Kit, which I’ve had since the initial launch. I like it a lot, and he says it again in his book:
“We need money to live in a modern world, and we should find a way to get what we need without harming anyone else.”
Without harming anyone else. I like that. Chris’s values are very close to my own, and that’s one reason I like his work and admire him.
But let’s explore that idea for a moment. Harming or hurting others isn’t a very peaceful thing to do. And if we want a peaceful planet, change starts with us.
How could we harm others while earning money? What comes to your mind right away?
For me, I immediately think of things like dishonesty, theft, and extortion. Then comes robbery—from pick-pocketing and purse-snatching to an armed bank robbery that results in murder—anything violent with the intention to acquire money.
Most people agree that this is wrong. But how else could we harm someone in our quest for money? That might take some thinking, and we might not think it’s wrong, necessarily. At least not much.
We could lie. That might hurt someone. Lying to make money could take the form of false representation of a product, misrepresenting ourselves on a CV or resume, or lying outright to employees or managers. Any form of dishonesty might harm someone.
Manipulation could harm someone. I’ve been in sales, in several capacities, including manager. I’m really good at selling something I believe in, but I can’t deal with the manipulation and rehearsed scripts and sales tactics that are used not only on customers, but also with employees. Most sales people and managers are expected to use them, or they believe it’s a useful tool and willingly do so, but I’m just not comfortable with it. It feels wrong and harmful to me. Plus it resulted in a lot of returns at the last sales job I had. I rarely had a return, but the top sales people—who used those techniques—really didn’t sell any more than I did when all the numbers were crunched. I imagine many of those customers got home with their product and wondered why they bought it.
I also worked in restaurants for years, since I was fifteen through college. Many examples come to mind. A cook might not practice good sanitation and cause someone to get sick. The menu might misrepresent the food. A server might be rude to customers. I know I was a smart-aleck at least a few times when customers gave me a hard time. I won’t tell you about the time I accidentally dropped someone’s French toast, dusted it off with a napkin, sprinkled fresh powdered sugar on it, and served it anyway. Ooops. I just told you. Oh well. Make sure you’re nice to your server! That guy wasn’t. Did I harm him? Probably not. But you never know what’s on a floor in a busy restaurant. Hey, I was only twenty or so; cut me a break. Thanks.
I agree with Chris Guillebeau that the way we make money shouldn’t harm anyone. I only believe in helping people or providing a valuable product or service in exchange for money.
What about you? Can you think of ways we make money that can harm someone?
Comments are very welcome!