Have a little respect

Tom sauntered up to my convention book table, “Today is my birthday.”

I knew him by sight, but we had never conversed, so I was a bit taken aback by this personal revelation. “Congratulations,” seemed appropriate.

Successful people respect the work they do, and expect to be compensated appropriately for it.

He eyed me a bit then got to the point, “How about you give me a copy of your new book as a birthday present?”

I gently said no and smiled sweetly while asking if he would like to buy the book as a present to himself. He shrugged, then sauntered away at the same pace he had approached.

It was a $20 book I could easily gift to someone if I wanted to, but that wasn’t the point. The topic of the book was how to become successful in business. He wasn’t the first, or last, that weekend who made a claim of poverty while simultaneously asserting the desire to be more successful.

At the other extreme were people who readily paid the full price despite having already achieved success. Most knew my reputation and wanted to read my take on the pursuit of wealth. Others were simply lifelong learners. Yes, they had the resources to pay for the book, but more importantly they understood the value of making the investment.


Money is only one form of wealth. A much more powerful definition of wealth is respecting and valuing yourself and whatever it is you do that produces your income. Building your skills and expressing confidence in your work helps others respect that work, and you. Wealth naturally follows.

The difference between those who asked for a discount and those who did not reflected the respect they had for themselves and their own work. Too many people in “helping” professions feel a need to ‘give it away’. But this puts a low value on their work; by others, and by themselves. Successful people valuate their work more appropriately and have an expectation of earning a respectable fee.

So, the larger point is respect. Successful people respect the work they do and expect respectable compensation. Anyone who does not respect the work in a similar manner will attempt to negotiate a discount; which becomes a mark of disrespect.

Tom wanted something for nothing, probably because he assumes his own clients want something for nothing. He made the mistake of extending that assumption to me as well. But successful people understand that you get what you pay for.

I respect the work I do, so I sell the book at a respectful price. That price supports the time I spent writing and producing the book. The people who respect my work pay full price, with the expectation that they will benefit from it.

That is not to say that discounting is a bad thing. Rather, expecting something for nothing is the problem, particularly as it becomes disrespectful. There are numerous ways Tom could have expressed sincere respect for my work, and for his own work as well, such that I may have chosen to gift a book to him. But I have enough respect for my work that I chose to be selective, to share my expertise with purchasers who shared that level of respect, and could therefore benefit fully from it.

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