I spent my formative years fine tuning skills that I couldn’t or wouldn’t want to monetize.
For example, snowboarding, dance choreography, and yoga. I love these activities, and yes I could monetize them by teaching. Problem is that the pay rates are low, the time commitment is high, the work is location specific, and if I get sick or injured I am flat out of luck.
Additionally, these are my pleasure activities. While it’s important to enjoy work, for me it is also important to establish healthy boundaries between play time and work time.
Playing is about being present with your own joy! Working is about acquiring skills you can monetize, so you have money to fund your play time!
There are two big classifications of skills, manual routine skills (doing to earn) and knowledge skills (thinking to earn).
The term “knowledge workers” was first seen in 1957 in Peter Drucker’s book The Landmarks of Tomorrow. Today, “Knowledge workers like software engineers, data scientists, and lawyers earn approximately $50,000 a year more than [manual workers]…”
Manual labor requires physical energy to be expended. The more you “do” these skills, the more energy you expend and the harder they become. Manual work can not be repurposed and must be re-performed to produce more money. Manual skills earn by the hour and do not allow for passive income.
Knowledge jobs require mental energy. The more you “think” these skills the easier they become. Knowledge skills can be repurposed into “information products” like books, online courses, etc. and can inform delegation to team members. Knowledge skills earn based on their depth and allow for salaries and passive income.
Manual jobs and knowledge jobs are not entirely distinct. Manual job skills can compound over time leading to monetizable knowledge base. However, it’s hard to start off your career as a pure knowledge worker!
If I had started working sooner, I would have realized how important my location independence was to me. I would have realized sooner than the skills I was developing would not ever lead to a monetizable knowledge base. I would have had more time to course correct and develop new manual skills. I would have spent less time feeling over and under qualified for all the jobs I wanted. Finally, I would have learned the “knowledge business” earlier and had more time to develop confidence selling my knowledge to make money.
Today, after much reflection and a seemingly random career path, I find myself qualified to advise remote team leaders on topics such as developing a meaningful company culture, diversity and inclusion best practices, and building a high performing virtual office. Occasionally, I also accept gigs as a virtual assistant (turns out I am an operations geek and love to develop internal systems) and a freelance writer.
Make your kids work when they don’t need the money, so they can:
- acquire valuable professional skills,
- cultivate an abundant knowledge base,
- gain confidence monetizing their knowledge,
- and become their own boss (if they want!).
(read Part 4)
Charlie Birch is a Co-Founder and the Director of Program Development at Rebel + Connect a company on a mission to celebrate human connection in the digital age! Rebel + Connect offers custom company retreat planning services for remote teams, operates remotely, and services clients from all over the globe. Charlie also dabbles in the sharing economy, rental real estate, freelance writing, healing arts, life coaching, diversity and inclusion consulting, and behavioral modification services. Charlie has a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology from Goucher College and studied at Naropa University’s Graduate School of Psychology with a focus on Somatic Psychology. You can connect with Charlie on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.