Joshua Bell, one of the world's finest violinists did an interesting social experiment.
He took on the role of a street performer and played his $3.5 million Stradivarius violin incognito in a busy Washington, D.C. subway station during morning rush hour.
The set up was intentionally chosen to contrast the typical setting in which Bell would perform at prestigious concert halls.
Despite Bell's extraordinary talent and exquisite music, the majority of commuters hurriedly passed by, barely noticing his presence.
Only a few individuals stopped to listen and appreciate the beautiful music he played.
This experiment demonstrated the importance of context and setting.
And this was exactly what I pointed out to my client.
Despite being a talented Graphics Designer, she was always attracting demanding, cheapskate clients leaving her angry, frustrated and confused.
“I don’t know what to do. I feel stuck and I am tired of haggling with them. It’s like pulling teeth to get fairly paid", she complained.
I inquired where she was getting her clients and she said that they were mainly from freelancing service websites like Fiverr and Upwork.
I said, “That’s your problem. You are getting the wrong clients because you are in the wrong place to begin with.”
She protested, “Where else can I find clients?”
I replied, “Do a search for local business events and conferences and attend them. Offer to do a free workshop on ‘How to generate leads to your business' and teach how a good website design is crucial to generating leads and improving conversions.
Create a few mockup designs of websites showing the before and after designs and share case studies of higher lead conversions from the work you have done in the past.
Tell the attendees you are happy to answer any questions they may have after the workshop and see if you can pick any new clients.”
She agreed and after a month, she came back to me with a big smile, “I did what you recommended and I got 5 clients. The best part is they are happy to pay me well without second thought and 3 of them want me to work on all their current and future projects.”
I was happy for her and asked her to continue doing workshops locally for free so that she never has to worry about finding new clients.
Eventually she was completely booked and had to put new clients on the waitlist- a good problem to have.
My client was settling for less because she didn’t realize her worth.
And her struggle to get paid for her work reminded me of a story.
Once, a father said to his daughter, "Congratulations on your graduation! I have owned this car for quite some time now. But before I hand it over to you, take it to a car dealer in the city and find out how much they would offer for it."
Excitedly, the daughter set off on her task and returned later with disappointment evident on her face.
She shared, "They only offered $1,000 for it because they thought it looked very old."
The father nodded, pondering for a moment, and then said, "Hold on to it and visit a second-hand car dealer."
Eager to explore other options, the daughter followed her father's advice and returned with even lower news.
She sighed, "They offered a mere $100 for the car. They claimed it's extremely old and needs substantial repairs."
Undeterred, the father had one final suggestion. "Take the car to a passionate automobile club," he said, hoping to shed some light on the true worth of the vehicle.
The daughter embarked on her last mission and returned beaming with excitement. "You won't believe it, Dad! Some members of the club offered me a staggering $100,000 for the car. They recognized its rarity, excellent condition, remarkable capabilities, and its extreme scarcity in the market."
The father smiled warmly and then imparted a valuable lesson.
"My dear, I wanted you to understand that your worth is determined by the place you find yourself in. If you're not appreciated, don't be disheartened. It simply means you are in the wrong place. Never remain where your value goes unnoticed. Seek out the places where your worth is recognized."
As Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Our environment and the people we are with- parents, friends, neighbors, colleagues etc. play a huge role in influencing our self-worth.
One of my clients was struggling to maintain his friendships because he was putting in long hours at work to save as much money as he could and was working on a side business during weekends.
Due to his busy schedule he had to decline any invitations for get togethers, dinners and other socializing events with his friends.
Over time, his friends became increasingly distant and accused him of being selfish, greedy and deliberately ignoring them.
He made an effort to share his goals and vision in life but none of his friends were in alignment.
So he asked me, “Do you think I should apologize to my friends?”
I said, “Apologize? For what? For working hard? For not willing to settle? For having ambitious goals?”
He said, “But they are my friends and I don’t want to lose them.”
I replied, “Let me ask you a question. Imagine, one of your friends told you that moving forward he wouldn’t be able to spend much time with you because he wants to start a business and needs to focus all his time, attention and energy towards building his business.”
What would you say?”
He said, “I would understand why he wouldn’t be able to spend time with me, I would wish him the very best on his business venture and figure out a way to keep in touch with him like texting him or calling him once in a while.”
I concluded, “You have your answer.”
My client felt better and he decided to cut the cord and let his old friends go.
Know your worth and more importantly be with people who know your worth- understand you, encourage you, support you and want the best for you.