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I recently listened again to a talk by one of my mentors, Jay Kubassek, co-founder of Launch You titled “The Law of Remuneration”.  It's a great talk and in it, Jay talks about how he used to trade his personal time for dollars but if you learn to leverage your skills you can exponentially grow your income.

Below is a copy of the transcript of the call:

Leverage Your Skills: The Law of Remuneration

“Is this a “get rich quick” money scheme I'm talking about? Nope. What I'm going to talk about here is different types of remuneration that you can use to leverage your skills in what you're making, and turn it into something more.

Let's go back to 2004. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I was behind the counter at the Midas muffler shop in Kansas, talking to this customer.

At the time, I had been doing research on internet marketing and finding ways to leverage my time online. Here I was, talking to this customer, thinking about how I only have so much time in a day and how I can only talk to one customer at once.

My ability to grow my business was limited to the people I could talk face to face to in my own personal time, and that bothered me.

What if I could find some way to leverage myself, where my production wasn't limited to the number of hours I could personally dedicate to the business? At that time, I had what I call a barter category form of leverage.

I was trading my personal time for dollars earned during that time. This is how most people earn money, by exchanging their time for it.

There are many types of jobs, and many factors that affect how much money you can earn from bartering your time. The limitation here is that you're not paid what YOU are worth, but you are paid what your POSITION is worth.

I felt that I had more or less topped out at Midas because my position was the manager of that shop. I started out as a landscaper for the guy that owned all those Midas shops and worked my way up to the position of manager.

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As I moved up, I made more money. At this point I had 10 to 15 employees under me; I was leveraging them, and they were leveraging me. They were doing the work; I communicated with the customers and sold them our products. I doubled my income in a year by moving up like that.

One big reason why I was able to do that is because I was always aware of how much time I spent on income-producing activities for my employer, and always sought to maximize that time. People who just show up to work, punch the clock, and go home are one kind of employee.

I was another kind, the kind who always gave 120%. The kind who always looked for an opportunity to do more than just what I was told to do. And that's the way you can increase your income when you're bartering your time directly for the money you make.

Bartering your time for income has the limitation that you only have so much time to give away for money. Your earning ability is limited by the time you spend producing it.

The goal for an entrepreneur is to leverage their time where their income is not tied to the amount of time they directly contribute to income-producing opportunities. I call this leveraged income. (We'll get back to this concept later.)

Leverage Your Skills: Skills Can Be Learned or Outsourced

One thing entrepreneurs like to do is solve problems. Let me give you a real-life example of this: I was sitting in Starbucks the other day, working on a presentation.

The guy next to me leaned over at one point and was clearly checking out what I was doing, even though it was obvious I was in my own little world and wasn't looking to start a conversation. We start talking, and I realize this guy is just a serial entrepreneur.

He owned something like 40 different franchises at one point. He's always starting new businesses. One of his businesses is a pirate ship in Hilton Head that takes people on tours; he does his own marketing for it, including social media.

And he was interested in the concept of a digital lifestyle. So he then shows me his laptop, and it's the web page of a landscaper that trims this guy's trees.

The guy's page is a simple yellow pages-style website, which doesn't show up on Google when I look for it. That website cost this guy $500 a month, and it wasn't yielding results for him.

He's not a marketer. But he's an entrepreneur and he's a problem solver. He bounces from one company to the next, solving problems and learning along the way. And that's the trick.

leverage your skills

All the skills you need to learn any job you want can be learned or outsourced. The secret is to look for the opportunity to solve problems for people.

This is how entrepreneurs provide value and get rewarded for it. And the only way to transition from a situation where you're bartering time for money to a situation where you've leveraged your potential beyond your own time is by solving problems. Problems equate with opportunity!

Another way you can increase your income is to learn a new skill. Let's say you work for a company and see a problem it has. You see this, and it's a unique opportunity for you to create a solution to that problem.

Maybe it's not your problem; maybe most people in that situation would walk away and say “it's not my problem. Let somebody else worry about that.” That's NOT the way to approach that situation if you want to become more valuable (and get paid more).

If your identity is trading time for money, you won't want to solve problems like that. You will see them as a waste of your time, which you could have been trading for money doing your own job. You won't want to take responsibility for it either.

It will always be someone else's fault.

You'll have an aversion to dealing with problems, and it will limit your income SEVERELY. On the other side of this, you can be someone who trades talent and skills for money.

This is the kind of person who learned skills through experience or upbringing and would make a great CEO because they know how to use those skills to solve problems. That's when you remove the limitation of time and can leverage your talents instead of just trading your time for the income you make.

Leverage Yours Skills: Solve Problems

If you can leverage your skills to solve problems, your value to whatever business you're in (and your income potential) goes WAY UP.

Let me give you an example of my days at Midas: I noticed that the mechanics who fix the cars would also interact with the customers. Most of the mechanics I know who are great mechanics aren't great with people skills.

I saw that as inefficient. If the customer asks a tough question about a repair, it gets personal for that mechanic because they just put their hard work into that repair.

So it got pretty heated between the mechanics and the customers sometimes, which is terrible for business! Mechanics just didn't function well as salespeople.

I saw this as an opportunity to create leverage using my skills as a communicator. Now I'm not a great car mechanic, but I'm pretty good at dealing with people when I want to be.

And I saw this customer service problem as an opportunity. I asked the general manager if I could take over the customer service duties for the mechanics.

I told him this would:

(A) make them more efficient, because they had more time to work on repairs

(B) I'll do a better job with the customers than they would, using my people skills

(C) the mechanics would appreciate it because they don't have to do something they don't want to do anymore.

That means their production will probably go up as well. Everybody wins.

I solved a problem and I got paid. They accepted my idea and offered me a 2% revenue above whatever average we earned last year. If I produced, I got paid.

If I didn't, no loss for them. I only got paid the bonus IF we did more than the previous year for that month.

I saw the opportunity in the problem and used my skills to leverage my income. Now the mechanics had more time for their income-producing activity.

Their ability to create more money by bartering more of their time increased because of what I did. Now they had the whole 8 hours to fix cars instead of spending 2 or 3 of that time on customer issues.

Because of this, they were all getting bonuses of 20 to 30% from that extra time they were able to work. Guess who was the most popular guy on the street?

leverage your skills

That's how I doubled my income in one year. It took some balls to have the confidence to walk up to the general manager and tell him I saw a role for myself that way. Mind you, this is a traditional franchise that doesn't create roles out of thin air. But it was hard for them to say no when I brought them my proposal.

I suppose another way you could do it is to say “hey, I've been working hard here for 2 years. Don't I deserve a raise?

If you double my income, I'll find a way to work twice as hard.” That's one way. The other way is to silently go about your business and be a problem magnet because inside every problem is an opportunity – and the entrepreneur in you.

There's an entrepreneur inside every one of us. We all have problem-solving skills. I hate it when people tell me “I'm not cut out to be an entrepreneur.”

In less than 10 minutes, you can figure out how to do just about anything just using the internet. You get my point – “I don't know how” is not going to cut it today. What you require is a different mindset.

When you learn how to sever that connection between the amount of money you make and the amount of time you have to make it, you can multiply your income by 10 or 100 with little effort.

Leverage Your Skills: Entrepreneurs look for Problems to Solve

Back to the guy, I met at Starbucks. He saw the guy's crappy webpage who was doing his landscaping, and he saw a problem he could solve.

He contacted that person and told them he could help market their landscaping business and get it on Facebook. And this guy isn't even a marketer!

He just sees tremendous opportunity. There's SO much opportunity out there to help businesses transition into the digital economy, it's absolutely mind-boggling!

This guy was telling me this. And he had no idea who I was or what I do. You better believe I gave him my number and promised we'd grab a coffee sometime!

This guy is about 50 years old. He could easily have said, I'm not a programmer or web developer. I don't know marketing.

But he sees the world through a problem-solving lens. He's drawn to problems.

THAT's an entrepreneur! Entrepreneurs look for problems to solve.

My son Milo is catching on to the concept of leverage. He's always puffing his chest out and telling people “My daddy owns his own work.” (SO adorable!)

He wants to be either an actor or a model one day. Way to go, I told him! I know he'll figure out a way to make money doing what he loves and then play the rest of the day.

He wants that digital lifestyle. If a 7-year-old can learn to think that way, why can't all of us?

If you can transition the way you think about your income from how you can trade time for it to how you leverage yourself, you can EXPLODE the money you make. Even as a 7-year-old, Milo recognizes he's got this personality and charm that goes a long way. Those are his X factors. He wants to do something with them. It warms my heart to see him thinking this way.

For the rest of us who aren't as cute as Milo, we go out there and solve problems. Look for problems. Because every one of them provides an opportunity to increase your income”.

This is a great article about assessing your circumstances, identifying the skills you already possess, and learning how to leverage your skills to earn more money and achieve better outcomes all around.


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jay kubassek

Jay Kubassek co-founded Launch You to champion those approaching major turning points in their lives. With 15 years of experience as a digital entrepreneur and a farmer at his roots, Jay considers his own life one of cultivation and perpetual growth.


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