The ROI of personal development

Image: Jiří Wagner

There’s never been a better time in the history of the world when being a ‘good person’ pays off more than it does now. We humans are wired (I have no scientific data for this, mind you, but…) to give our business to people we like (if we’re financially able to).

My grandfather used to go to the same butcher every month. Not because he was cheaper or the most convenient (he was all the way on the other end of town). But because he was a “stand-up guy”. They were both Marines in WWII. Grunts. And they bonded over that among other things. Sure, there was the guy down the street at 2/3 the price (who was closer to his house), but to my grandpa, he was invisible.

A good part of my subject matter can be seen as navel-gazing. But now, more than ever, being a value-aligned and creatively driven person can not only allow you to live a more fulfilling life, it can be quite lucrative as well.

Our economy is moving towards this kind of village mentality at scale. A bulk of the workforce is headed towards becoming freelancers and contract workers — the village merchants of today.

We’re all proverbial butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers now.

In this new economy, it’s not just the establishments in your physical vicinity that you can choose from, but the whole world. And with the nature of personal branding and social media, if we’re so fortunate, we can search out those “stand-up” people (just like Grandpa did) who we feel deserve our dollars. People we feel that we could trust on a handshake. People whose faces we see and whose interests we align with. People who show passion and put love and hard work into what they do. People who others speak highly of.

It’s been said many times before, but this is the value of having a pure, authentic personal brand — I know it’s cliche’, but it’s true. You can digitally get out from behind the damn counter, shake hands and look into the eyes of your prospects and customers.

Sure, you can stick your head in the sand and hope for the best. You can keep on running your sketchy businesses practices and relying on shoddy workmanship and have no social media presence. But your days are numbered.

Privacy is going away. It’s not gone yet, but it’s going. Screw someone over and soon there won’t be anywhere to hide. Scary stuff? That’s your call. It’s just reality.

Now there’s a direct ROI to being a good person. I’m sure some nerdy economist could map out an equation that shows profit being derived from having strong values that align with your work and relationships over time. And there’s no better time to showcase that “stand-up-ness” than through your body of work online.

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