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Value Over Cost

I’m here to talk to you about what separates those who succeed at the top of their field from those who do not. It’s really quite simple: if you are from Chicago, you understand. And this is key to success in whatever region of the country you live in. Under no circumstance, ever, does it make sense to put ketchup on a hot dog. It’s blasphemy!

(Just kidding. But seriously… put the ketchup away. Put some jardiniere on there. If you don’t know what that is, come visit Chicago.)

In reality, this key to success is a simple shift in perspective, that - if you’ve never taken the time to examine for yourself - you may not have had just yet.

Speaking of perspective, have you ever stopped to think about how truly valuable the right perspective is? And just how much the wrong perspective could cost you? If you haven’t, you should.

An Olympic Perspective

Perspective is defined as “a particular attitude toward, or way of regarding something; a point of view.”

Those who have reached the highest levels of success have a crystal clear perspective. When you hear interviews with Olympic athletes, do they ever sound like this?

“How did you get to the level of success you have reached?”

“Well, I’ll tell you. It was sheer luck.

“That’s incredible. How can I be as lucky as you?”

“I don’t know, it’s luck. So maybe you can or maybe you can’t? Beats me.”

“Thanks for the advice. I hope to someday be at your level, this is my passion!”

“Good luck! Truly, it’s all luck, I hope that happens for you.”

No. No they don’t. That’s what White Sox fans sound like, not Olympians. It probably sounds a little more like this:

“How did you get to the level of success you have reached?”

“I had a dream and I made a commitment to myself that I was going to be an Olympic athlete. I worked my guts out. I trained 6 hours a day during the week and 8 hours a day over the weekend. You can imagine that didn’t leave much time for a social life, and you would be right. Success requires sacrifice. I followed a strict diet, invested in a great coach - both personally and financially - and, most importantly, I decided to never quit.”

Developing the Right Perspective

Growing up, my family struggled to make ends meet. We lived paycheck to paycheck, promising ourselves that next year would be better, and it never was. I went off to college, studied acting and directing, and graduated out into the world ready to take it over.

There was one small issue. Whether I was fully aware of it or not, I brought with me a fully formed perspective that was the culmination of my life experiences up to that point: my own worldview. And this worldview is defined exactly as it seems: it’s how you view the world. You enter adulthood with social, political, and religious opinions. Thoughts on what types of movies are quality, your own aesthetics when it comes to music and art, and then - on no day in particular - you have become an amalgamation of what’s happened to you in your life up to that point. The books you’ve read, the opinions you’ve let into your head, and the Facebook posts that have made you legitimately dumber. (And the YouTube videos of “unlikely pet friends” you really have nothing better to do than watch videos of ducks and horses who are friends? We’ll talk about procrastination another time...)

Some could argue that no perspective is truly wrong, but I ask you to consider: do you have the perspective that is proven to give you results in what you are chasing?

When I entered the corporate world, I realized that my perspective was extremely limiting. I began to ask myself: did I believe people were inherently good...or bad? Did I believe that I was worthy of success… or not? And in this week’s blog, I ask you the question that served as a breakthrough for me: do you believe in value… over cost?

Value Over Cost

When I was getting started down the corporate and entrepreneurial path, I had a trepidation about sales. I was an actor, a film-maker, and I wasn’t a slick type of fast-talking salesman. (Though I could play one on TV.) When talking about supplying products and services, my first question was probably close to what yours would be: what are the prices like?

My old and tired perspective thought that “price is the bottom-line. Everyone’s main concern is price, so shouldn’t we be trying to make everything cheap enough for everyone to buy or have access to this service?”

Thankfully, I had wonderful mentors in my life, who taught me some incredible lessons about cost vs. value.

You explain value once, or apologize for quality over a lifetime.

If you want to see what really matters to you, check your bank account. How you spend says it all.

You’ll invest in yourself in direct proportion to your self-perceived worth.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these.

When it came to spending, my perspective was way off. I may have lived my life off the dollar menu when trying to make it as an actor and director, but it was not true that everyone was looking for a low cost solution in every circumstance. If that were the case, we’d all be driving Kia’s. (No offense, Kia - ok, maybe a little offense). They make Tesla's and Audi's because some people have the perspective that the value of something is more important than the cost. And don’t want to ride in a car made by a company that started by making bikes...

All retailers compete in 2 of these 3 categories: quality, convenience, and cost. You are hard-pressed to find a brand that competes in all 3. Think about it. A bottle of water at McDonald's is $1.00 and a bottle of water at the movie theater is $4.00. McDonald’s does not compete in quality, and movie theaters don’t compete in cost. A bag of popcorn is $1 at the grocery store, and $10 (or more!) at the movie theater. Ok, so clearly everything is super expensive at the movie theater. What’s the solution? To smuggle in your Reese’s Pieces? Maybe.

Take a look through the Yelp reviews of the hottest new burger joint in town, and you’ll notice a stark contrast between those who understand value, and those who don’t. A 5-star review that says, “This is one of the most eye-opening burgers I’ve had in a long time. I used to be a chef, and I could tell that these ingredients were premium. Made to order, organic grass-fed beef, never frozen. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable - I think I may have even learned a thing or two ” followed by a 1 star review that explains, “This is the most over-priced garbage I’ve ever heard of. $13 for a burger? I can go to McDonald's, Burger King, or even Sonic and get a 2 burgers for $3 bucks. That’s $1.50 a burger. All burgers are the same - don’t waste your time here!”

(We all know the grammar, spelling and sentence structure of that second review is not accurately represented above by… being correct…big tip about those lovely people who write 1 star reviews...)

One person cares about quality above all, and one person cares about cost above all. Which is why expensive restaurants and fast food exist. Before you judge the person who prefers $1.50 burgers, understand that quality, cost, and convenience are necessary parts of a business model. If convenience wasn’t important, you would not have the McDonald’s oasis in the rest area of the never ending stretch of highway in your road trip. (You know if McDonald’s looks good you are hungry!) If quality wasn’t important, we wouldn’t even have Food Network and a Michelin star rating system.

When investing in yourself, do you choose Value or Cost?

Quality, convenience, and cost may be the standards of retail marketing efforts, but it shouldn’t be for your best investment: you. As we learned from our Olympic interview, perhaps the greatest perspective you can have is being willing to invest in yourself. Blood, sweat, tears, sacrifice. Financial commitment, building a personal relationship with a mentor. To succeed, it will take hard work. Period, case closed.

Unsuccessful people will say “oh, they just got lucky.” Successful people will tell you “luck is when preparedness and opportunity meet.”

Unsuccessful people will generally be unhappy, unfulfilled, and living their life with a feeling that they are missing something. Successful people set goals, achieve them. Try, fail, and adjust.

You decide who you want to listen to!

There is nothing more detrimental to your success than counting the cost of investing in yourself. (Well, except Taco Bell. Taco bell may be more detrimental.) Are you a Kia or an Audi? Are your dreams the size of a condo or a multi-million dollar home on the beach? If your goals and dreams have true value to you, you’ll be willing to pay the price to achieve them.

Next week, we continue to unpack how hurtful the wrong perspective is. Every heard that “it’s all about who you know”? Well, that’s true. But you know what? That gives you the advantage. Having the wrong perspective, even if it’s only off by one degree, is enough keep you stuck being frustrated and confused. Stay tuned. All this talk of food… time to go eat...

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