"But he paid extra," says Seth Godin

This morning (11/30/18), my brother Jon sent me Seth Godin’s blog entry for the day, in which Seth wrote this:


“But he paid extra”

We come up with lots of reasons to work with jerks. We take an investment from a jerk investor instead of a kind one. We accept a job from a bully instead of someone who will nurture and challenge us with worthwhile work. And we take on a customer who denigrates our team and our work instead of embracing the good ones… The most common reason is that they pay us more. A better valuation, a better hourly rate.

That’s not a good enough reason. We pay for it many more times than we get paid for it.


Here’s the email exchange that followed between Jon and me.

Jon: The hard to define business advantages of not being only motivated by the bottom line....

Pete: The notion that "he paid extra" somehow justifies unwarranted investments of my personal resources (time, effort, whatever) just flows from a failure on my part to view those personal resources as a limited commodity with inherent value and opportunity costs. The opportunity costs, of course, are the other uses to which those resources might have been put- ones which, if properly allocated, yield maximum well-being returns.

There may be some amount of "extra" that makes it worthwhile to allocate those resources to the jerk/bully, but when inherent value and opportunity costs are internalized, that "extra" probably makes it uneconomical for the jerk/bully. Problem solved.

Jon: What should we be doing with our personal resources - the ultimate limited commodity - once we have the ‘time and space’ to consider this? It’s almost as if you can’t get away far enough from your own subjective drivers to consider how best to evaluate your own inherent value.

Pete: To the extent that we are even considering "personal resources" (we have to coin a better term for this- it includes effort, passion, creativity, and especially time) as limited commodities that have inherent value, then we are moving in the right direction. The fact that we are all marooned in our individual consciousness- that we will never achieve perfect optimization/well-being- in no way diminishes the importance/value of stumbling towards that goal with the best methodologies we can muster.


Thought you Happitalists would find that exchange interesting. Any thoughts on the above? And suggestions for a neologism for what we refer to above as “personal resources”?