Profit is a Two-Way Street

Profit is a mutually beneficial concept, not a one-sided ordeal.

Profit makes the world go ’round

“Profit” can be a polarizing word. It excites some, and repels others. But whether you realize it or not, we’re all involved when it comes to profit.

Harry Browne’s amazing book on sales, The Secret of Selling Anything, has really opened my eyes to this amazing truth.

(Huge hat tip to Jonathan Stark for recommending this book: it’s definitely going to make my own recommended reading list.)

Profit is never a one-sided endeavour: it’s the result of a mutually beneficial exchange. And virtually all exchanges are mutually beneficial on some level, otherwise they wouldn’t happen in the first place. As the book highlights, people are constantly seeking profits, or as Browne puts it, “something that will bring them more happiness.”

What is profit?

Browne calls out the fact that everyone in the world will raise their level of happiness in their own unique ways. Some people are happy driving cars, some enjoy reading books, others love to travel. All of these different activities represent individualized ways of increasing personal happiness.

Not everyone likes driving, some people hate reading books, and others would rather stay home all the time and not go anywhere. And that’s OK, because the actions that bring them happiness aren’t those things. They have different preferences.

Instead of driving, they might really like biking. Some people might prefer to read a comic book over a piece of non-fiction. And rather than stay at home or travel the world, some people might choose to explore local restaurants and bars with their friends.

When you engage in an activity that brings you happiness (or when something “sparks joy,” as Marie Kondo might say 😀 ), you’re making a profit on your own personalized terms.

Yes, paying for these products, services and experiences does typically cost money. This money becomes the profit of the seller. But you – the buyer in the transaction – are willingly choosing to part with money for something else you’d prefer to have (your profit).

This is what makes profit a two-way street. Until both sides find an acceptable level of profit in the transaction, there’s never any deal.

Why we need other people

Humour me for minute. Did you personally make your cell phone? How about your stove? How about the shoes you wore yesterday?

I’ll bet your answer to those three questions was, “no!”

And if you did answer “yes” to one, I’m certain you didn’t answer “yes” to the other two.

All three of these products take deep, specialized knowledge and skill – not to mention significant production processes – to create.

Your cell phone was probably made by a team of factory workers with the help of a large number of robots. It was first imagined by a group of designers, tested by engineers, marketed by a team of creatives working for the phone company, shipped around the world on a massive freighter operated by a bunch of people (depending on where you live), and distributed by your retailer who employs a number of sales people.

That’s a lot of people, right?

You alone did not produce your own cell phone. Understandably, you relied on the skills and abilities of many others to wind up with your device.

The money you paid to get the phone is the eventual profit of everyone who made the phone. The phone is your profit in the deal. You valued the phone more than the money you paid for it, so you pulled the trigger and made the purchase.

We need other people to obtain the things that we can’t make for ourselves. As Browne mentions, “you personally produce far less than 1% of all the things you want in life…”

To get the other 99% of what we’re after, we need the help of other people.

One final takeaway

Our modern, mainly capitalist world is governed by profit-building exchanges (aka “value creation”) that help both parties in the transaction boost their levels of happiness.

In other words: “win-win” is the name of the game.

So if you want to “win” in your interdependent pursuits, first you need to deliver a win to whomever you’re striking a deal with.

Giving away something of a certain value to you in exchange for something else that’s more valuable to you is what’s needed to ride the road of profit to your desired destination.

So go ahead, give a little (or a lot!). You’ll wind up happier as a result.

Profits are the measure of the service you render

F. Leroy Hill

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