Peter Winick here with Thought Leadership Leverage — Traditionally, people got paid for either their input or their output. Input could be as simple as being compensated for the number of hours you worked, while output might be how many units of something you produce.
This model still holds for many people in a wide variety of trades and professions, however, in the world of knowledge workers and content, it gets a little bit fuzzy. I think a better way to think about it is to understand where you are adding value and what that value is actually worth. Supply and demand, rules and industry standards certainly can’t be ignored, but for many knowledge workers those really aren’t the primary considerations.
I mostly work as an adviser. That is primarily an input role. My ideas, experience, thoughts, and plans add value by allowing clients to benefit from my experience. They learn how to create new revenue streams, how to better position themselves in the marketplace, and ultimately monetize their content. It’s a fair deal for everyone involved — they get insight and expertise and I get paid. I also work with a certain clients where I don’t get compensated until revenue starts to roll in. It’s a partnership where they provide various resources such as their content and brand, and I add my sales, marketing, and product development expertise. In these cases it’s really an output function. We sell a consulting project, a training program, or license a video based learning system and we both make money. We’re sharing the risk and working with higher stakes than when I serve as a consultant. In both instances, I provide value. In both, I’m compensated. The tricky part is knowing when it is fair to be compensated for input and fair for output. Fair is obviously a subjective term but ultimately it means that over the long term, everyone wins.
I’ve established a few rules that have served me and my clients well over the years. I always start with a client as an adviser or a consultant. I get paid for my input, I’m confident they’ll receive value equal to or greater than my fee, and we develop a relationship. If we feel it’s mutually beneficial we may move the relationship to an output role. In those instances both of our respective needs need to be met or the relationship will not thrive.
I also am a big believer in the “No A-Hole Rule” and choose not to work with people that I think are A-Holes. But I’m not delusional, some times people will think that I’m the A-Hole and choose not to work with me, but such is life.
Do you have a business model that allows you to be flexible and add value on either side of the equation given the right circumstances? I think the real issue is having the understanding and the model to allow you to capitalize on whatever side of the equation you can bring the most to.
If you’d like to learn more about how Peter and the Thought Leadership Leverage team can help you, contact us!