It’s All About the Money …

Blog by Julian Summerhayes. 953 words.

What I Do

I care passionately about what I do.

Always have, always will.

My core message is the power of your brand, and helping people become the most that they can be (see the book Practically Radical by William Taylor). My focus is on social media, but I also work on other areas of practice – business development, client service and EXCELLENCE.

My career has been in the service industries: recruitment and law, principally. In short, my role has been to serve, or perhaps more accurately to act in the service of others. A big part of that has to been to help others achieve their potential as others have done for me. Perhaps that is why I have found the transition out of law to be so easy, and giving of so many wonderful opportunities.

My Early Years

We all have goals and I would be lying if I said that wrapped up in my rather cosy world of service has not been a whole slew of material things: a Rolex (sold a long time ago), a Mont Blanc pen or two (I still have my original Meisterstuck bought for £160 in 1988) and a Porsche 911 (not yet … but there is always next year!). Looking back the reason for acquiring these was to give me an anchor point for my limited success. I didn’t regard them as must have’s – even though everyone else seemed to be similarly adorned.

Why Law

One thing I am absolutely clear about is that I did not go into law for the money. If money was the only driver then I wouldn’t have chosen law. I had a job offer from PwC upon completing my degree, and I would have gone down the route of FD/troubleshooter. As it was I chose law because of the mental discipline, and I saw greater synergy with my DNA (to help others).

Also, I wanted to be based in the South West and I thought accountancy would put me on a collision course between choosing a settled family life in Devon and moving to some far flung corner of the globe to wrestle another company out of oblivion.

I can’t ever remember me talking about wanting to earn £100k + although I would be lying if I didn’t admit to wanting that sort of income. Indeed with my level of billing, I did think from time to time, by comparison to some of the over-paid partners, that I deserved to be paid something much closer to that figure than the one I finally left on.

The trouble is that one of the reasons why law, and other professions, have lost the label ‘profession’ is because everyone has focused so heavily on the money. Partners seem always to want more and in my experience are invariably at the back of the queue when it comes to accepting responsibility of the firm’s under performance. It always seems to be someone’s else’s fault.

This drive for money – from billing through to remuneration – is highly corrosive. It elides any sense of job satisfaction.

The Downside of the Money Quotient

I have long decried the partnership model. It worked fine when all the partners were in it together, but once they got into empire building (oh that wretched pyramid), it resulted in a lot of unhappy people. I know for a fact that there will be partners out there who regard what they earn as disproportionate to their earnings and responsibility.

And it doesn’t take long before you start to question why you went into law. When everything is equated to a pay cheque it is unlikely you will ever be satisfied unless, of course, you are earning something closer, much closer, to the partners. Even as partner there will be immense tension between those that are prepared to put in the grunt and those that have decided to coast straight on to retirement.

Money ultimately is a poor extrinsic motivator. If you need a whistle-stop tour of the academic research underpinning this assertion go and read Daniel Pink‘s excellent work Drive.

Ultimately how much is enough?

The Alternative

If instead of focusing on the numbers you had a drive to get better then ultimately the pleasure would be in service, not being paid. Of course, you may not (anymore) get a thrill out of serving others; but, usually, the reason is associated with the dud clients that you have taken on. Instead of taking on every single client that has a pulse you need to be more discriminatory and only work with clients that excite you. A “thank you” here or “you were awesome” there goes a long, long way to fulfilling your innate need to be appreciated.

If you need a slogan then why don’t you focus on being “insanely great”. Don’t think service, but rather think memorable experience. The same sort of experience that you get from your favourite restaurant.

And the Money

My view: focus on prosperity. For me that is a more apt word to describe our lives. It is not to chase the tail of money at the expense of prosperity. For me to be prosperous is to be at one with yourself.

Be mindful. Take time to think. Right now on my laptop I have the words stuck on it: “Stop and Focus”. It is to remind me to stop and think about what is important. That is not to say that I do not want to develop a successful business but being open, curious, and exploring a rich life of experiences is far more important.

And as regards the money, providing I keep focused on what is important then I know the money will follow.

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