Successful gurus, experts and authorities aren’t afraid to ask clients, supporters, prospects and fans for money. And if they are afraid, they do it anyway. Sure, if you are an actor and strike it lucky, you can have your agent ask for money. But for most of us, we will either never have an agent or will never get one until we’re already very successful. In most fields of endeavor, there simply are no agents for those at the beginning or midlevel of a career.
Here is the sad reality most people don’t want to hear. You can’t just follow your passions and expect the money to flow. No, if you want money, you will have to ask for it.
This is not to suggest that you have to become money-grubbing, shady or result to unethical tactics to part money from people’s wallets. If you are good at what you do and people value your expertise, then often all you have to do is ask. You may have to ask in=person, over the phone, on the web or in a text-based proposal, or preferably in all four ways.
I am an optimistic person in general and do not want to seem like I am cynical about human nature, but I have observed that if you do great work for people and deliver them great service, they will be very happy to let you do this for free, indefinitely, if you let them. If you ask up front for your fees and you politely inform them that work is never done before payment is made, then the vast majority of people are happy to pay you your fee.
People who have worked for large corporations who quit their jobs to become gurus, consultants or independent subject matter experts often have a huge problem asking people for money because for their entire careers, they never had to ask for money. In the big corporate environment, all they had to do was good work and then money just showed up magically at the end of every month in their bank account.
Among the worst at making this transition are former journalists. Journalists often spend decades doing fun things, i.e. investigation and reporting interesting stories. Throughout their careers they pursued truth in a noble manner and didn’t soil their hands with “dirty” commercial endeavors. In big TV, radio, and newspaper companies, reporters do the fun stuff and on the other side of the building were the low-class, non-glamorous, money-grubbing ad salesmen and saleswomen. And the journalists didn’t like to hang out or socialize with the sales people either.
This arrangement worked well for journalists for a long time, but it develops a mindset that makes it nearly impossible for a journalist to make the transition to becoming an independent guru or thought leader.
Part of being a successful guru is conveying confidence in your ideas and in yourself. If you don’t have enough confidence in yourself to ask people for the money you deserve, then why should they have confidence in anything else you say or do?
Even if you don’t need money or like money, even if you have a full pension, even if your spouse is a 10 figure a year hedge-fund manager, you need to learn how to ask people for money in order to feed the entire guru engine and machine that can take you and your ideas to the next level.