Do you have to prove your worthiness? No. No one else can define your worth. But you need to establish a framework of value for yourself. If you don’t, you will leave it to other people to establish their perception of your value. In this episode, Jason Wrobel and Whitney Lauritsen discuss why measuring someone’s value based on their social metrics is disturbing. You ought to be accepted for who you are as a genuine person. If you doubt your worthiness, this episode’s for you. Join in the conversation and learn why you are valuable as you are. Tune in!
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Why You Don’t Have To Prove Your Worthiness And How To Feel Valuable
In one of our episodes, we talked about mental health challenges that entrepreneurs tend to face. There’s an element that didn’t occur to me while we were doing that episode but has been an ongoing frustration and challenge for me especially as an online digital marketing type of entrepreneur. This is something that applies to a lot of people, even if they don’t consider themselves to be entrepreneurs. It can come up in ways for us whenever we’re in certain positions of our career, in our work.
This could pertain to relationships and many different facets of life. This is the self-pressure or the perceived pressure to feel valued, respected, important and taken seriously. For me, that’s been manifesting in an interesting way that I was pausing to reflect on because I got triggered a few times. It’s come up and I know that you face this too, Jason. We’ve touched upon this in episodes but I felt like it’s worth addressing it again, digging deeper and maybe sharing some more specific experiences.
For me, this is showing up with the barrage of emails that I get from brands who want to work with me, which sounds like a great thing but it comes with a lot of interesting pressure for me. It comes with some fascinating experiences. Specifically, this comes up most often in the influencer content creator context. I’m going to speak about that from my experience. If you’re not an influencer or a content creator, you can still relate to this on some level.
One huge issue that I see in this industry is that we’re in this weird gray area time. Some people have referred to it as the Wild West where there aren’t a ton of rules and people are flying by the seat of their pants making things up as they go. That certainly won’t be true of every industry. However, the world often feels like it’s going through fluctuations, changes and transitions especially given that there’s so much in flux throughout the world now with more serious issues. That tends to trickle down into people’s behavior, treatment of others, communication and expectations. That’s why that this can be quite universal.
As a Content Creator who’s either being approached by brands who want to partner together or approaching brands that I would like to partner with, what comes up is a regular occurrence of feeling like I need to prove myself and my value. Sometimes that is in the case of people wanting to know how many followers I have. It’s so cringy for me.
Most people can relate or even from a second-hand relation to this because follower accounts are such a known thing. If you don’t care about follower counts, you at least know that a lot of people do. Even people that don’t consider themselves influencers or content creators will fixate on these numbers.
It’s disturbing to me because it feels superficial. It doesn’t feel like it has as much meaning as it did in the beginning. When I first started using social media, it felt like people would follow you because they were truly interested in you. They were interested in who you were as a person and what you had to say. Now, those numbers don’t quite reflect that all the time because you can buy followers as we’ve talked a lot about in the past. Beyond a pet peeve, irritation and frustration that Jason and I share, it’s huge. I can’t remember if you’ve ever done that, Jason. Have you ever bought followers or likes?Deep down, we want to be accepted as we are. Click To Tweet
Yes, I did it once as an experiment. When you and I were talking about this, this must have been many years ago. It was right around the time when we first started talking about it. I’m like, “I want to see if this works.” Full transparency, I went on to iDigic.net and I bought 1,000 followers back in 2014 to see if it would work and it worked. Truth be told, I have at one time, out of experimentation’s sake, bought 1,000 followers on my Instagram page. If you’re there and you’re like, “J-Wro, I know 1,000 of your 36,000 followers are fake.” They are.
If they’re still there.
There’s the transparency. If those bots still exist because they’re not actual people.
Who knows? It’s such a bizarre thing. It feels icky and superficial to vet people based on those types of metrics but it happens all of the time. It happened to me and it made me feel a bit sick to my stomach because, in these two instances, people were saying, “We will give you blank if you have X amount of followers or whatever our minimum threshold is.” One of the occurrences was a brand that I reached out to and I was interested in their product. It was a $40 portable blender. I won’t mention the brand. It’s cool. I’ve used them before. I don’t have one of my own. I thought, “Great. I have an upcoming trip.” It felt like a great partnership because I’m creating some content.
As a Content Creator/Influencer, whatever you want to call us, we often do partnerships like an exchange where somebody will give us products. Sometimes we’ll get paid as a sponsor. This episode is sponsored by a wonderful brand called Embody Me, which we’ve spoken a lot about. That’s a great example of a positive outcome where the one I’m currently speaking of is not quite the same. You can apply for this brand to be an “ambassador” for them. One of the things they’ll do is send you their blender, which is $40.
I applied to see but there were a couple of things that rubbed me the wrong way. This drives me up the wall. One is that in their contracts, they have you agree to give them usage rights to your content. If you post a photo or a video about them or maybe even a podcast, they have the right to take that content and put it on their own social media channels or even use it in their advertising. I remember stopping and thinking, “Eeeh.” In general, I don’t usually sign paperwork like that but I thought, “Maybe if they accept me into this program, I’ll see if I can negotiate that out and feel it out.” It depends on some factors.
I applied and they’re like, “Great. We’ll be in touch.” A week or so went by and I followed up, they sent me back some automated message like, “Thanks for applying. We love the content that you’re doing but you don’t meet our follower thresholds.” I was like, “For a $40 blender, I don’t meet your follower thresholds?” I followed up and I said, “What are your minimums?” In my head, I’m thinking and not to sound in my ego but, collectively, I feel like I probably would meet their threshold so I thought maybe there was some confusion.
I wrote back and they responded to me, “We measure people in a variety of different factors so we welcome you to apply in 60 days.” I was like, “You’re not giving me any information. You’re telling me that I don’t currently meet whatever standards you have and you won’t tell me what those standards are but you still are encouraging me to apply again in 60 days. What’s going to change in 60 days, first of all?” It was this icky feeling and I felt triggered by it.
It reminded me of online dating where somebody swipes through your profile and if you don’t meet their standards, they’re not even going to give your personality a chance. That’s where I know a lot of people can relate to this. When you apply for a job online and you know that you would be phenomenal in that position but they look at your resume and determine whether or not you meet some weird standards that they have. These automated systems have been created to try to guess whether somebody is a good fit. Meanwhile, they filter out people that might be a better fit than others based on their superficial metrics. This is an ongoing thing.
It happened again, Jason. This one website that I’ve been on for a year or so connects people from the press and the media with brands and it’s a phenomenal website, there was some weird glitch in their system or at least something changed. I wasn’t able to access it in quite the same way. I thought something was broken.You don't have to prove yourself or feel unworthy if companies reject you because there's plenty of others who will accept you. Click To Tweet
I emailed them and it took them weeks to get back to me. Lo and behold, it turns out that they limited my access to the system because they started a new qualification thing and they needed me to reapply. They asked me what my metrics were to reapply. I was like, “What? I’m already part of this system.”
I’ve been working happily with these companies and now I have to reapply to see if I’m still valuable enough based on the current standards. I found myself trying to prove my worthiness in this response to them like a re-application. I’m pulling up my metrics and trying to craft it in a way. I was like, “This feels weird.” It’s something ongoing that I’ve struggled with. It feels like I have to prove myself and it’s such an unpleasant thing because deep down, I want to be accepted as I am.
When you connect with someone, it sometimes only takes a few minutes for them to like, appreciate and respect you. There’s an energy. You don’t have to prove yourself to that person. They just immediately resonate with you. Sometimes there are people where maybe you need to spend a little bit more time with them so they can see who you are. Maybe they’re more guarded. Maybe they want to spend more time and get to know the depth of who you are.
There’s the opposite where you meet people and maybe they like you right away but almost a little too fast. Oftentimes, that’s based on things like how you look, what you do or who you’re associated with. We’ve talked about credentials and things like this in the past. That uncomfortable thing when you go to a party or an event of some sort and somebody immediately wants to know what you do because that’s part of their way of assessing out whether you’re worth talking to. If you tell them what you do and it doesn’t resonate with them, a lot of times they’ll end the conversation quickly and you’ll see them go talking to someone else.
I’ve had many of these various experiences over time from online dating to business networking, to applying for jobs, to working with brands as a Content Creator. A lot of it starts to make me feel a bit sad, jaded, resentful and a bit disheartened as a whole. There’s not a lot of times where you have the opportunity to show up, be seen who you are as a whole person and not be picked apart for all of these more superficial elements of what makes you who you are.
I’m getting these triggers because maybe I don’t want to be involved with people who are going to have to size me up first. I know there’s plenty of people both personally and professionally who have already decided that they like me, appreciate me, respect me and see my value. I don’t have to prove myself to them.
I don’t have to feel unworthy if they reject me because there’s plenty of others who won’t reject me and who will accept me and that’s more where I would like to be. This has impacted me in many deep ways, Jason, as I’ve talked about my struggles with trusting other people and feeling comfortable in social situations. Maybe some of that is the result of feeling like it’s soul-sucking to not know whether or not somebody will see me as who I am.
This is challenging, Whitney, for a litany of reasons. I resonate with what you’re saying because I have experienced it more in the past few years of my career than I did previously. In some ways, it’s a microcosm of systems that are already set up and have been running for a while. For example, the paradigm of what we’re talking about with social equity with this example that you were bringing up, to me, feels structurally similar to something like a credit scoring system. In the sense that if you play the game “the correct way” and you will learn the nuances and the ins and outs, oftentimes the hard way, of how to boost your score and what factors, what things to pay off and what debts positively affect your score, there are a lot of counterintuitive rules.
The point I’m trying to make is there are already so many social systems set up that evaluate our worthiness. They call it even creditworthiness. Think about that. They’re already baking in the concept of your worthiness with that system, “Are you creditworthy?” If I have this score then the systems that are in place, the banks, credit unions, auto lenders and people handing up mortgages are going to look at me much more favorably as a citizen because of my worthiness based on this score. In some ways, social media is a microcosm of this thing we already have going on.
One of the bigger concerning things on the same level talking about credit scores and being evaluated on our worth based on social media is the social credit system in China that a lot of people have been talking about. If you, dear reader, have not heard about this, the Republic of China has created a social credit system that is a set of databases and initiatives that monitor and assess the trustworthiness of individuals, companies and government entities. Each person is given a social credit score with rewards to those who have a high rating and punishments for those with low scores.
People are like, “It’s communist. They’re turning people into products, barcodes and numbers.” We’re already doing that in the West. I got a news flash. it might not be as draconian as this social credit score in China, where the extremity of having a positive score gets you priority healthcare or they waive deposits if you’re going to rent a place. If you have a high enough score, they waive a deposit and they give you better healthcare. If you have a low score, you can get banned from planes, flights and trains. You can get banned from transportation.Use your energy to do something more with your inherent talents and skills. Click To Tweet
I understand that sounds more extreme but the metrics of how human beings are being turned into line items on a spreadsheet or in an algorithm saying, “You’re worthy of money. You’re worthy of credit. You’re worthy of better healthcare and better access to public services. If we deem you not worthy, we’re going to ban you from being able to buy a house, therefore building your wealth. We’re not going to give you access to credit cards. We’re not going to give you in terms of China, even access to transportation.”
What I reflect on, Whitney is if we want to be members of modern society, regardless of what country we’re in, I don’t know that there’s going to be a way around this because it seems like this mentality is infecting many systems of our modern culture. It’s maddening because on the one hand, if you zoom out and take a bird’s eye view like you were saying, “I, as a being, I’m not my fucking credit score. I’m not my bank account. I’m not my social media metrics. I’m not this social credit score that you evaluate my “trustworthiness” based on arbitrary metrics of what.” It’s maddening because we’re being reduced to that. The question I sit with is, “What can we do?” If we’re going to be in society, I don’t know that we’re going to get around these systems. Moreover, how do we anchor in our own sense of self-worth and beingness even if these systems say that we are not?
It’s a fascinating thing to ponder because I also think about the times when it works to our advantage. If you are good at playing your cards right working the system, you get a lot of perks. When you raise your credit score, you get perks. When you have the right credit card, you get perks from it. When you do enough to please someone, maybe they give you bonuses. I’ve looked at some of my friends in the influencer marketing world how they’ve had access to things because of their higher numbers and how some or many of them are strategic about it and focused on it. It’s because it gives them access and it gives them more money.
I’ve also worked to try to raise these things over time. In the past, I didn’t quite feel like it was working in the way I wanted it to but maybe I’ve had this internal resistance to that system. I would rather be appreciated and valued by a few people than a lot of people who see me as a superficial thing to regard. It’s the reason that I don’t prioritize my appearance because it’s not important to me.
The energy that I would spend, the money that I would spend trying to get camera-ready or whatever ready all the time especially given the number of videos that we’ve been making on for the show and other things that I do online. To me, that would drain me of the energy that I could better spend focused on my research, my preparation and my speaking. Those are where my value is.
We’ve also talked about how we could go to a ton of parties. We could spend our time networking, schmoozing and whatever else but I also know that would drain me. In those things, I would feel the need to prepare. I would want to have a nice outfit, which might require me to go shopping and spend money, time and energy. It would require me to spend typically 30 minutes to 1 hour getting ready, taking a shower, doing my hair up and putting on my makeup.
Before I’ve even left my place, I’ve spent probably an hour minimum getting ready and then transporting there, which takes more time, energy and money and then going there and engaging with all of these people without any guarantee. Leaving and hoping that something comes out of it. What if instead I stayed at home, which is where I would prefer to be in most cases and use my energy to do something more with my inherent talents and skills, brainpower and all of those things?
I’ve thought about this a lot in terms of women. As a woman, it’s interesting because it feels like a daily reflection for me about observing other women, the pressure, the marketing and all the things that women have been conditioned to do. We are encouraged to be mothers. What if you don’t want to be a mother? You still feel pressure to be one and question yourself. It becomes incredibly confusing if you’re not sure. What if you become a mother and realize that’s not what you wanted to do but you did it because of all the pressure?
There’s pressure to be in relationships. Do you pick a relationship and stay settled in it? There’s also pressure to appear a certain way. There’s pressure to look young and all of the things that go into looking young even when you don’t “fall into” the categories of what is considered young in our society. There’s even more time and energy that you have to put into your appearance to pretend that you’re younger than you are.
Maybe you don’t fit into the cultural standards of beauty so you feel like you have to spend a lot more time, energy and money on changing your appearance to fit in because of all the pressure and the fears that if you don’t look a certain way, you won’t be accepted and valued as a woman. There are constant questions about whether you need to be overtly sexual in your appearance, your behavior and all of that to feel value.
There are many things that show up in my life on a daily basis that I feel like I’m rebelling against but yet, this fear that if I rebel against it, I will be cast out at some point. That lays in some of the anxiety that I feel. When that shows up on social media, I’m wondering, “Would my numbers be higher if I took more selfies? Would my numbers be higher if I took more time on my appearance? Would my numbers be higher if I spent more time crafting content networking with people? Maybe I would buy them, spend money on it and fake it all.” All of these things come down to trying to please all of these people but ultimately, isn’t it about pleasing ourselves?
This conversation reminds me of something that triggered me. I sent this to you, Jason. I saw this clip from a Fox News segment. I don’t see Fox News as evil. People that are Liberal or Democratic have a lot of judgments around Fox. I certainly feel a little hesitant based on my political views and overall lifestyle. I can see why some people feel that way. To me, I’m open-minded. I’ve found value on Fox News and I’ve even been on a Fox News show years ago and had a pleasant time.
I saw this clip and it was a gut punch. It also felt like it addressed a lot of these questions and made more sense to me. There are these two people speaking who were wealthy individuals. I don’t remember their names because I don’t pay that much attention to those types of people. It was somebody commenting on this Fox News clip on TikTok. Two wealthy people are talking about their opinions on unemployment and their opinions on when somebody should qualify for unemployment.
They’re saying all of these judgmental things about people being lazy and not working hard enough or not being willing to work and then they brought up the topic of self-care. It was interesting because we did an episode about Embody Me who’s our sponsor and we spent the whole episode talking about self-care for entrepreneurs. If you haven’t read that episode, we get into depth then we share this blog post from our wonderful sponsor, Embody Me, which is a virtual wellness platform. Their big focus is on entrepreneurs especially female entrepreneurs and how to support them through all of the challenges that come along with being an entrepreneur. It’s amazing and valuable. They’re prioritizing self-care.
When we were talking about that, Jason, I was thinking, “This is great. Entrepreneurs need to take good care of themselves. That’s how they’re going to thrive.” In this Fox News segment, they were mocking people that prioritize their self-care and I was absolutely shocked and also fascinated by this viewpoint that self-care is bad. These people shouldn’t take time off for themselves and they should be willing to work themselves to the bone even if their mental health is suffering. I was floored and shocked that anybody could think that way.If you don't establish a framework of value for yourself, you will leave it to other people to establish what their perception of your value is. Click To Tweet
Suddenly, Jason, these light bulbs went off for me, given in the United States that approximately half of the country is Republican. Based on the 2020 election, the number is there, it’s split. It’s possible that half of the people in this country and I’m sure many more people overseas, truly believe that we shouldn’t take time off for ourselves. It’s not okay to take time off and not work. It’s not okay that we need to prioritize our well-being over our work. The unemployment benefits should not be as available to others and people are lazy if they don’t go get a job.
In the comment sections, I was reading some reactions to this. Some people were agreeing with it and other people were saying, “That’s because, in our society, people are not being paid well for their value. They don’t want to go to a job where they have to work themselves to the bone and make $12 an hour.” I was like, “Exactly. Who was this woman who had millions of dollars and clearly was successful in establishing her career to make those comments?”
She starts talking about that standard Millennial viewpoint as if Millennials are all lazy or all self-centered. I don’t know why it came as such a surprise. The point that she made about self-care was beyond comprehension for me. I wonder, “Does that mean that this woman does not prioritize her self-care? Does this woman take any breaks? Does she take vacations? Does she spend time with her family and loved ones? Does she take care of her body?”
I imagine, based on the way she looks, that this woman probably does take care of herself. She was an older woman that looked phenomenal. Clearly, she’s spending time on her hair, her makeup and her body likely. I doubt that she rolls out of bed in good shape, with perfect skin. She probably drinks a lot of water, eats well, that self-care. She probably spends a lot of money on body and beauty treatments. Wouldn’t that fall into the self-care category?
Maybe in her mind, if you take any time for yourself outside of work, that is not okay. Maybe she’s implying that if people get burnt out and have mental health issues that prevent them from working, it’s not okay for them to collect unemployment. I’m curious how you’re feeling about this, Jason. It ultimately ties into this conversation that this woman felt like she wanted us to be these machines that can’t ever stop and need to be the cogs in the wheel. If we choose to stop, take care of ourselves and prioritize ourselves then we are lazy and unworthy. That fired me up. How did you feel when you saw that clip, Jason?
I felt a lot of things. I felt not surprised because if we look at how laws and policies are structured to benefit massive multinational corporations. I’ll give an example, which was interesting. During the same 24-hour period that you sent me this clip from Fox News, I sent you a video from Sarah Silverman Podcast, which I’ve been listening to and is phenomenal. Shout out to Sarah Silverman. I love her tone. I love her. She’s unfiltered on her podcast. It’s raw to the point she’s giving zero fucks. It’s fantastic.
On her podcast, this clip I sent you, Whitney, she was talking about the Walton family who owns Walmart. Sam Walton passed away years ago. The matriarch of the family now is his daughter, Christy Walton. Sarah Silverman was saying in this clip that she’s worth $61 billion. Mind you, there are multiple Walton children. They’re all multi-billionaires but Christy Walton is the highest, second richest woman in the world now.
I didn’t know this, Whitney, but she went on to detail the compensation structure that they pay their employees the Federal minimum wage. The Federal minimum wage for covered non-exempt employees is $7.25 an hour. She said the way that Walmart has its employee relations structured is they encourage their employees to enroll in Government Assistance Programs. Where do the funds for Government Assistance Programs come from like food stamps and things like that? They come from taxpayers. Her point was the Walton family is so cheap. For their employees to subsist on what they’re being paid as Walmart employees, they have to rely on government programs that we pay them as United States taxpayers. We are paying the assistance of a private corporation, to frame that so that they can have the means to live.
When I hear people on Fox News who are multimillionaires, these two people and one of them says, “In the military, when we train military dogs, we only feed them at the end of the day because a hungry dog is an obedient dog.” Using that as an analogy for humanity that if someone is starving, they’re more obedient. He compared starving dogs for military training to how he believes we should regard workers in the United States. To me, that was the moment, Whitney, in that video where I went, “How many people in this world have a similar viewpoint to him? If we make people desperate or hungry enough, they’ll be obedient.”
That scares the shit out of me to think how many people in the elite ruling class, millionaires and billionaires, think the same thing. I’d venture to say probably a lot because they’re relying on underpaid, overworked human effort to build their empires with few exceptions. They resist unionization. All we need to do is look at Amazon. I know you’re a fan of Elon and I am too but his resistance to unionizing at the Tesla auto plants is pretty fucked. What is it? Essentially, it’s like, “Let’s take the power away from the working class. Let’s make them as desperate as possible so they will continue to be hungry dogs.” That was the part that got to me.
This all is interesting because part of me feels like, in general, I don’t want to be someone who takes sides. I don’t want to shame someone for their choices. Whatever your work ethic is, it’s fine if it applies to you and your life. I don’t like it when people judge my work ethic. It doesn’t matter to them if that makes sense. That’s a trigger for me. Maybe in this Fox News segment, they’re feeling threatened because our tax dollars are going towards unemployment and maybe some people feel it’s unfair. Perhaps that’s the viewpoint. It’s like, “How come I have to do all this work and this person can sit at home and collect unemployment?”
Certainly, there are going to be people who take advantage of those systems. Some people work harder than others. I can relate to that sentiment as well. It does suck when things feel unfair but the truth is that everybody is very unique in their circumstances. It does come back around to this conversation about the individual, Jason.
You can look at it at this broad view and all of these things that groups of people do that frustrate us. We try to create systems to make things work better but clearly, in the United States, we have a lot of division here. One side will think that a certain system works and the other person thinks that the exact opposite system will work. Somehow, we all manage to coexist, which is amazing.
We’ve talked about the pandemic and all these different opinions on that. Who knows? Maybe we will all come face with a huge moment of needing to come together. We’ve talked about climate change for the same reason. People have different opinions and reactions to that. Maybe one day, we will be forced to unify because it will truly be a matter of life or death for us. Maybe all of this division is showing us that we truly cannot work together in a unified way enough to save ourselves. Maybe that’s the fate of human beings.
I feel a bit conflicted because I understand the desire for us all to be on the same page but I also, at this point in my life, don’t believe that it’s worth the energy to try to get everybody up on the same page. I’d much rather accept people for being different from me. I don’t like it when somebody feels like they’re different from me and they want to get me to fit inside a box to comply. That’s possibly a Millennial and Gen Z characteristic.
I looked up her name. You can find her name if you look in the TikTok video. I’m not going to say it out loud for SEO purposes. I don’t want to bring any attention to her and the other guy that she was speaking with because I don’t agree with what she was saying. Back to your point, Jason, I was like, “Millennials and Gen Zs will not stand for that shit.” We are rising up in power. If you look at someone like Mark Zuckerberg, he might fall into a Gen X category. He might be on the cusp somewhere. Look at the power Mark Zuckerberg has. Like him or not, he’s a powerful young man and he has influenced the world in huge ways.Transactional partnerships are not worth whatever the money they are paying you. Click To Tweet
Millennials, Gen Z and younger are going to take over at a point. I wonder sometimes if some Boomers and older Gen X-ers are feeling incredibly threatened by this. Are they threatened by the fact that people want to take time off for themselves and prioritize themselves? Reflecting back to the conversation we have in the last episode and how that was all sparked by our sponsor, Embody Me. What’s interesting about Embody Me is that they talk about overwhelm, unworthiness, feeling trapped by limiting beliefs and not feeling like we have enough time to take care of ourselves because we’re hustling too hard from our businesses. That’s a statement that Embody Me addresses in their virtual classes.
That’s important because I know enough about marketing to recognize that the reason Embody Me exists is because this is a problem. If you would like to go read our episode with the Founder, Amber. It is episode 272 and that came out at the beginning of September 3rd, 2021 to be precise. In that, Amber talks about the evolution of her journey. I’m amazed by how far that she has come. She is a young woman who has done extraordinary things so far and is on track for greatness, in my opinion.
The fact that she has been noticing how more feminine entrepreneurs and energetically types are feeling like they don’t have enough time to take care of themselves because they’re hustling too hard and struggling with unworthiness. That’s why she started Embody Me. Who is this Fox News woman to act as if that’s not an issue? Are we going to sweep under the rug that people feel like they don’t have enough time for themselves but they desperately want to? That people feel unworthy because they’re spending way too much time trying to prove themselves and to hustle? That is not sustainable.
If I had a chance to talk to that woman, I’d be like, “What evidence do you have that this current method of working ourselves to the bone is even good? Why do we have to live our whole lives striving to be better than we are than embracing who we are at the core? What if we created more systems that acknowledged us for us and also learn to be more like human beings instead of looking at others as disposable?”
When I mentioned this whole idea of, “You’re not a fit. You don’t meet my standards,” whether that’s dating, job applications, partnerships or whatever else, the reason that it triggers me is that where’s the humanity in that. It’s one thing to recognize you’re not a fit for something but we can acknowledge other people in a different way. When somebody comes to me and is like, “I’m only going to accept you if you meet my standards,” it’s gross. Who in this world wants to hear that? Perhaps a better way is, “We have a limited spot here or we have certain criteria.” There are kinder ways to express it.
Granted it might be the same thing but can we create up different systems? It’s a complicated thing. It comes down to me in the communication. You are not in your head with this, Jason. I don’t know what the answer is to work through this. For me, I would love to see other people treat one another with more respect, honor and recognize that every single person has something to offer. Everybody has got different life experiences that lead them to the place that they’re at. We can’t assume that everybody is going to fit neatly into these different categories.
This brings up a deep consideration when we talk about value. For me, value is often used interchangeably with self-worth. In this context in my mind, Whitney, self-worth and value, with the way I’m going to going to frame it, are different. When I say that this has been one of the biggest challenges, I don’t know about my entire life but, certainly, in over eleven years of entrepreneurship, the lens of the microscope around value has been dialed all the way up.
It’s wonderful to talk about Amber Fortier and her platform, Embody Me. They’ve been a phenomenal sponsor. They have these classes that are all about empowerment and creating a framework of value for yourself. Here’s why that’s important. If you don’t establish a framework of value for yourself, you will leave it to other people to establish what their perception of your value is.
On the one hand, you can go, “That’s what the marketplace will bear. The marketplace will pay whatever it wants for my services.” If we don’t establish what our value is, it’s easy to get carried away and, let’s face it, be it grossly underpaid and undervalued by people who want to hire us for things or clients, etc.
Before we get too deep into this conversation of value, I do want to give you, dear reader, an opportunity to dig deeper into some of these teachings and frameworks about value, self-worth and caring for ourselves as entrepreneurs and creatives. Embody Me has a deal that we are offering to you. If you go to their website, which is EmbodyMe.live, you can use the code WELLEVATR, our brand, use this code to get a free week, seven days, to take all the classes you want. If you love what you find there, as Whitney and I have, you will get 20% off your first month.
If what we’re talking about resonates with you, you want more tools around value, self-worth and caring for yourself, they also have great yoga classes, EFT tapping. Whitney did a face yoga class. It’s not only about the mental frameworks, it’s also about caring for the physical body as well. With that about value, Whitney, I’ve had so many situations and I had a situation maybe six months into the pandemic where I was going back and forth trying to negotiate a sponsorship deal with a brand here in Los Angeles.
Part of the brand deal was doing YouTube videos, Instagram videos, the standard fare. Beyond that, part of the deal was wanting me to go on to QVC and be a brand spokesperson for a segment, pitching products on QVC. I’ve talked to acquaintances of ours who’ve done that thing in the past. We talked about a framework of the value of what brands make on a typical 1 hour or 90-minute QVC segment. When I started finding out about how much brands typically make, my mind was blown. We’re talking hundreds of thousands or, in some cases, even millions of dollars in a 60 to 90-minute segment. It’s staggering how much they sell on QVC.
When a brand gets in there, they know that they’re going to be likely generating a lot of revenue from those segments. With this negotiation, they wanted to pay me a flat rate. “This is how much we’re going to pay you to host the segment on QVC. We’re going to fly you to Philadelphia and do the on-camera training and all that.” I went back with my agent and we were trying to negotiate a percentage of sales because we had a projection of how much we thought they were going to sell and we said, “If Jason’s going to go through this training and do all this stuff, we want a percentage.” They were like, “No.”
Not to get into the specifics but of all the money they were projected to make, they’re like, “We’re going to give you 0%.” I walked away from the deal because I know, for me, if I’m going to go through all of that, I’m going to be on TV, I’m going to go through a week’s worth of on-camera training, fly to Philadelphia and all that shit, you’re not even going to give me 1% of your net? That’s the moment that in the early days of my career, we talked about that whole hungry dog as an obedient dog, I probably would have said yes to something like this. In the early days of my career, I was a hungry dog saying yes to everything.
Now, I looked at that deal and I was like, “Thank you but no, thank you. If you’re going to pay me a flat-rate fee.” It was $5,000 but my 90-minute segment is probably going to make them a $500,000 average projection. You’re going to give me $5,000 of $500,000? With all due respect, kick rocks. That’s what we’re talking about here. If you don’t establish the framework of your value, you have the propensity to be greatly taken advantage of. I’ve had it happen to me. I’ve said yes to shit that in retrospect, I wish I didn’t but you learn through experience.
The other thing though about this, Whitney, that I want to pingback to you as a counterpoint of this value argument that I’ve struggled with is sometimes I have felt that I’ve overestimated my value and lost out on deals. There are many examples of this in sports. I’m a huge basketball fan. There was a guard for the Los Angeles Lakers. His name is Dennis Schröder.
Halfway through the last season of the NBA, they offered him a contract extension. He had already signed a deal and they wanted to extend him for his basketball services. They offered him four years, $84 million. It’s a lot of money. It’s a nice payday. He turned it down because he thought his value was higher. I thought, “Good for him.”
The end of the season concluded. He passed on that mid-season deal and ended up finding that his value in the marketplace was not being perceived as he thought it was going to be perceived. He ended up signing a one-year deal for $5.6 million. You might think, “That’s still a great payday.” The tricky thing is that I sometimes wonder if I am overestimating my value and passing up opportunities.
Use Dennis Schröder as one cautionary tale. You think that the guy’s got a lot of balls if he turned down $84 million for four years and then ended up signing a one-year deal. Do you feel like there have been situations in your life where you feel confused by that? Do you feel like that’s even a thing, overestimating your value? Have you experienced that? If so, what emotions have you felt in doing that?One of the best things we can do is support each other as entrepreneurs and as content creators. Click To Tweet
Let me be clear about what I mean by that. I have been turned down for pitching myself “too high” with the number. Generally, that is about their budget. I don’t think there is a way to easily determine someone’s value. It’s because most people I know make up whatever number they pitch. Salary tends to be a little different because there’s a general salary range. Even then, where do you fall in that range? How do you determine? It’s a lot to do with their budget.
I’ve also developed the courage over time and this confidence to pitch myself and I usually err on the high side because I have learned through a lot of experience that when I pitch myself too low and somebody says yes, I always wonder, “What would I have done if I’ve gone on the high side instead?” I have also learned that if someone wants to work with me, they will negotiate with me if they truly cannot pay me what I’m asking for and we will have that conversation. I’ve done that plenty of times. I keep that in mind.
A common negotiation tactic is to go high and see if they will accept that. If so, fantastic. If not, hopefully, they want you enough to take less. This is the other thing in the influencer world where sometimes, companies will come to me and they’ll ask for my rates and I’ll give it to them. Sometimes they’re like, “Sorry, that’s too high,” and they move on. I was like, “Clearly, you didn’t want to work with me.”
This also happened to me one time. Someone reached out to me through Facebook. I don’t know how this woman found me but she wanted to know about my offerings. She told me that she needed some support with fitness and her body and working through. I explained the type of well-being coaching that I do but I didn’t give her a price because I don’t want her to just pick me because of a price.
She responded back to me after I spent all this time crafting a kind message to her with like, “How much does it cost?” I remember at that moment, I had an instinct and I’m like, “This woman is cost-conscious,” which is fine. I get it but to me, that’s usually a signal that they’re going to try to lowball me or something. It’s not always true so I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt.
I wrote back and I gave her a few options like, “Which one are you interested in?” I want to try to bring it out. I got the gist from that conversation that it felt transactional because each of her responses to me was a one-line quick question like, “What are your services?” I asked, “What do you need support with?” She’s like, “Just bullet points.” I was like, “Here are some more details.” I’m trying to set expectations and clarify things and then she’s like, “How much does it cost?”
I’m not that interested in a transactional thing because I’ve also had enough experience to know and Jason, you too. If you’re someone like us who doesn’t like transactional partnerships, it’s not worth whatever money they’re paying you. Sharing that out loud is helping me clarify that it’s easier for me to say no these days because the transactional stuff, even if it’s paying well, is generally not worth it.
I’m someone that puts my heart and passion into things. I put my whole self into projects. I’m not a superficial person. I’m not somebody who likes to do things formulaic-wise. I’m not a fill-in-the-blanks person. I write things from scratch. Everything that I do, I put a lot of time, effort and love into it. I want to work with people who see that about me, value that, want that from me and are willing to pay me for it. Luckily, I have attracted a lot of those people into my life over many years.
We talked in our previous episode about the entrepreneurial journey. It’s a long one, got ups and downs, hard and not always like this. To your point, Jason, you’ve learned a lot over time. I’m willing to say no. I’m willing to have people turn me down when I tell them what I would like from them because I know that those are not as satisfying.
Going full circle to what inspired this topic, those experiences that I had from brands that rejected me because my numbers weren’t high enough for them, it was an indication that I don’t want to work with them. Especially if they want to suck the life out of whatever content that I’m going to create for them. I could do a whole episode on how messed up it is that content creators will do work in exchange for products and not realize that they’ve given away their usage rights. These brands, similar to that QVC example that if you don’t read your contracts, you might be giving away a whole lot of value.
If most content creators out there are incredibly valuable and a brand will send you a $40 blender in this case, which has nothing to them, how much does that cost them, $10 to make? $10 is approximately worth what they’re giving you because you perceive it as a $40 value, plus they get to take whatever photos or videos you take, that’s a hell of a deal for them. If you create a nice piece of content, that’s worth thousands to them. They could make so many sales off of a good photo or a good video. I feel thankful that they said no to me because I know my value is higher than a $40 blender.
On that note, one of the best things we can do is support each other as entrepreneurs and as content creators. I’m grateful that we have a community of people that we can text or call and have discussions about, “What do you think I should charge for X?” There are some people who are protective and guarded and won’t discuss those things out of fear of not-enoughness or fear that you might swoop in and steal their project. There are people over the years that have refused to engage in those discussions with us. It’s nice to know there are people who are open about it and they see rising tides, raise all ships so to speak.
One of the things that I have talked with friends about over the years is the somatic experience of value. Here’s what I want to say as a tip, Whitney, to anyone who’s reading and also to you of something that I do. I’ve talked to people in our community about, “Do I create a spreadsheet and annotate these conversations? This is what Michelle charges for an Instagram post. This is what Tony charges. This is what Whitney charges. This is what Josh charges.” You could do that.
Even more so than data collection and tapping our community, what I try to do and I’ve shared this with other people and we’ve done it together, is you tap into your body and say to yourself, “How do I think I’m going to feel if I say yes to this number? How do I’m going to feel if I say yes to giving this much value?” What I’ve started to do over the years, Whitney is getting better at noticing the sensitivity of my body signals.
Here’s what I mean. It’s like, “They’re asking me to do three videos and appearance. Would I feel good in my body and my being if I were to receive $10,000 for this? Yes. How would I feel if I were to receive $5,000? That’s half. That’s not as good. Maybe there’s a range. Maybe between $10,000 and $5,000.” This is an example of my process.
I know that if I go in at $10,000 and that’s my high watermark, they may say yes and I’m going to feel good about that but I know that if I go below $5,000, I’m going to feel bad about saying yes to that. My feeling in my body will be almost as if I have betrayed myself. I’m being specific with that word because there have been times where I’ve looked back at things I’ve said yes to and it was almost like my conscience or my intuition, however you want to label it, was saying, “Don’t say yes to this number.” The fear overrode that.
Later on, I felt like, “I completely betrayed myself shit.” Part of the advantage here, we talk about community, having these open conversations and finding different ways people establish their value. That’s one of the biggest things that I love about the community, people all around the world, not just people from the US, teachers, instructors, leaders, community members on EmbodyMe.live. The benefit is you go and you meet other entrepreneurs. You meet other people that are trying to create businesses, services and products that are here to uplift and give something good and uplifting to the world.
Having the courage to ask people in the community there, “How are you establishing your value? How are you running your business? How do you feel when you are afraid to negotiate something?” These are all tips and tools that are so important to share with one another because you may be in a vacuum of your own world thinking, “I’m doing it right and I’m doing it well but there’s always more to learn.” As cliché as it sounds, we oftentimes learn the most through our perceived failures or perceived mistakes.
When you get into a group like Embody Me and you meet other entrepreneurs who may be on a different stage of that journey, Whitney, they may be years ahead of you or years back, there’s value in learning from everyone no matter what stage they’re at in the journey. With that being said, dear reader, we want you to take advantage of this offer.
It’s a seven-day free trial on EmbodyMe.live. Use the code WELLEVATR. If you put that code in, you’re not going to only get the seven days free but you also get 20% off your first month. We love it and we appreciate what Amber has created because it’s people and instructors from all over the world. There are so many people from many different countries. That’s another layer of depth. It’s not just people with a singular perspective in the West.
We want you to dive in, EmbodyMe.live, use the code WELLEVATR and take that seven days, take the classes, experience the community, ask questions, introduce yourself and tell people what you’re up to. That’s one of the best ways, Whitney, that we can anchor in that idea of clarity, value, feeling good about ourselves and having those boundaries in business because boundaries are not just for personal relationships. Boundaries are for professional relationships too.
I would add that talking through your emotions like we have this episode is therapeutic. Getting it out and moving your body in intentional ways, all of those different classes that bring out your feelings so that you can process them even if it’s to yourself. If you do have the opportunity to chat with other people, it makes a huge difference. You have realizations. I feel like I had some a-ha moments now. Talking through venting is so great. Make sure that you find a way to vent. Venting also can be done through your movement.
When I was doing in-person yoga classes, I would often notice how much I would process and I would find my brain going into all these different places as I was moving my body. Even though I was trying to be present, I felt like I had so many realizations. I haven’t taken a yoga class in a bit because I’ve been doing some different forms of body movement and exercise. Talking about this makes me crave yoga because I love the way that it makes me feel physically and mentally.
Thank you for talking this through, Jason. Thanks to the reader for reading. Hopefully, you had some realizations of your own or got you thinking about things from a different angle. Our big aim here is to bring up some things. Even if you don’t resonate with them, giving you the perspective of what other people are going through is important. I want to encourage you to reach out to us. We are an open book. Truly, you can ask us anything.
One thing that you can do is, on Instagram, you can send us a direct message written or audio. We’re talking to you through audio. If you want to send us an audio message, we would love to hear from you. We’d love to know what resonated with you from this episode? What are you going through? What questions do you have? We can point you in different directions to Embody Me, to other resources and other things. We can share our experiences if you want specifics. We are part of that community. We’re here for you. We love hearing from you so much.
We’re also available through email, blog comments and all of that. There are so many ways to reach us. Wellevatr.com is where this show lives and the links to everything are. If you forget how to reach Embody Me, you can go on there and find the links easily and find the other episodes. Speaking of episodes, we are still experimenting with two episodes a week versus the three that we used to do. We’re doing Monday and Friday instead of Monday, Wednesday, Friday like we used to. We’d love your feedback on that.
Coming up, we have amazing guests. We have another phenomenal one about getting to the core essence of who you are, which ties in nicely to this episode. Check that out. The lineup is mind-blowing. We have a lot of entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs, male entrepreneurs, non-binary people. We’re trying to expand beyond gender as well and offer up all sorts of different perspectives on life to make sure that everyone feels represented, understood and understands each other. Thank you for reading and we’ll be back with another episode. Bye for now!
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