The Coconut Cash Conundrum and Other Money Problems

How we choose to think about money will end up (to some degree) defining how much of it and the quality of it that we receive.

One of the things that’s confusing about money is the way we bake our moral attitudes into it. It’s loaded with judgements good and bad.

Depending on the speaker and the situation it could imply:

  • That which we do not speak of at the dinner table.
  • Necessary evil.
  • That which sullies all artistic enterprises.
  • That which reduces humans to instruments.
  • That which will make me happy and set me free.
  • Freedom.
  • That value which was taken or mined from the efforts of others.
  • Fuel for forces both good and bad.
  • That which is required to make it rain.

It’s common for creative people (read: entrepreneurs) who struggle with money to say things like:

“I want to explore the creative ideas I’ve been having, but I’ve got to make money.”

This statement expresses money as “necessary evil” and as “affront to artistic integrity” (see below). The good news is it’s not that hard to re-load the concept and see if we can get it working for our artistic ventures.

Do you remember that moment in the Four Hour Work Week when Tim Ferriss said that the concept of “happiness” causes people a ton of problems? He suggests that if you want a more useful term, substitute “excitement.” I loved that.

I think there’s a similar substitution to be made for money.

Instead of saying “money,” try “legible value to others.” (Derek Sivers talks about a similar idea in his book).

I find it changes the way people are able to talk about money.

Imagine if instead of saying:

“I want to focus on all of these creative ideas I’ve been having, but I’m not sure I can do any of them because I’ve got to make money.”

People said:

“I want to focus on all of these creative ideas I’ve been having, but I’m not sure I can do any of them because I’ve got to make legible value to others.”

You don’t really have money problems…

You have creating legible value to others problems.

Money as an affront to artistic integrity.

It’s commonly thought that once you involve money in your art, you’ll become a “sell out.” I’m particularly sensitive to this one because I’ve spent a lot of time in local music scenes. It’s difficult for me to imagine that idea being useful to one of my old colleagues. Imagine a struggling musician you know and ask yourself if their art wouldn’t immediately improve if they started making it expressly for the consumption of others.

One of the best meditations I’ve seen on this topic is John Mayer’s talk at Berklee College of Music.

Here’s a few other money problems:

The Coconut Cash Conundrum

I LOL’d the other day when my friend Elisa mentioned the term “coconut cash.” Let’s define that:

The demotivating effect of it being so easy to live so well on so little e.g., a person moving to Thailand with a modicum of keyboard skills can earn $1000 to $3000 USD monthly which is enough to live a life of relative luxury. This almost insta-“success” can be demotivating and hurt ones chances of getting to the “next level” in their business and personal wealth.

The reason I’m not alarmed (but amused!) is that this isn’t limited to coconuts or Thailand or lifestyle designers. Most people operate like this.

See also: “Rice and Fish Heads.”

Hipster Hypocrites

“Hey man, businesses are so bad for the world, let’s boycott them and their corporate interests, and remember to keep it organic and free trade and sustainable.”

-Sent from my iPad

It’s just a joke.

The Cambodia Cash Principle (and Paradox)

The frustrating idea that the easier money is to make, the less attractive or ‘passive’ it is.

PRINCIPLE : “Generally, the more appealing the source of income, the more resources you need to expend to get it.”

PARADOX: We are attracted to business models with highly leveraged income because we want to free up our time, but we have to spend an extraordinary amount of time (relative to other approaches) in order to develop the type of income that we see as “freeing.” Hopefuls often end up under-estimating the cash runway required to create those cash flows, and fail to make the entrepreneurial switch.

Here’s the full post.

Well. That’s pretty random! Thanks for sticking around.

As always, love your thoughts!