First, let’s all agree that money is dead.
When the very same banks we so recently “bailed out” with our hard-earned tax dollars are suddenly announcing record bonuses even as Americans report underemployment in record numbers, it’s impossible to take our financial system seriously. Actual currency has become so ethereal as to be downright irrelevant. You might as well pay for dinner with POGs.
As a result, there’s a newfound interest in commoditizing the one resource we all share equally: time.
Thousands of blogs and articles have been written about concepts like the attention economy, the influence economy, and how changes in perception affect the “market value” of your influence. And, naturally, people are logically devising ways for you to monetize your influence.
But if we can temporarily agree that cash is dead, then monetizing your influence is pointless because money itself is pointless.
Instead, let’s invest our time and measure our influence according to a more dynamic metric: relevance.
Why > What
A TV might cost $500. That’s a concrete price for a concrete item. That price may fluctuate due to supply and demand, but the price on the tag is the same for everybody, regardless of how much money they actually have.
But the relevance of that TV is different for every human being who might purchase it.
If you’ve never owned a TV before, that $500 pricetag is your gateway to a lifestyle milestone. But to a person who already has a TV in every room, that $500 TV is almost worthless. The pricetag itself doesn’t change, but its context does. And how much you need (or want) that TV determines how relevant it is in your life, and therefore how much time and effort you should reasonably allocate toward obtaining it.
Now, pretend that TV is a college education. Or a healthy relationship. Or a healthy child. Now how much is that goal worth, and how much of your time is worth investing in order to achieve it?
Why Mattering Matters
Too often, we spend the bulk of our time in pursuit of money, for the specific sake of possessing money. We’re not necessarily sure what we need it for, but we know that we do need it. Therefore, as long as we spend our time making money, we can excuse ourselves for not spending that time on anything else more relevant — mostly because we never ask ourselves what is relevant in the long term.
Once we identify our greater goals, and we relegate money to a means rather than an end, we’re left with a very different problem than “how do I make more money?” Because we can always make more money, but we can never make more time. And there’s no shortage of information and spectacle competing for our universal 24 hours every day, which makes productively investing those precious minutes increasingly difficult.
So if we can never gain time, why not invest in methods to maximize the time we do have?
All of which brings me to one simple suggestion that could make a giant difference:
Now Hiring: Consolidators
Our days are endless swarms of information. By the time we’ve made sense of all that information, we’re out of time and energy to do anything about it. And until now, the smart money has been on “cultural curators” as the likely solution, empowering people to act as informational gatekeepers on a personalized level. (“Panning the dreck for gold you’ll find relevant,” as it were.)
But we don’t need curators; we need consolidators.
A curator can find 20 diamonds in the rough, saving me the trouble of seeking them out myself. But the more curators I follow, the more [good] information I’m overloaded with. It’s still the same problem, except now there’s even less irrelevant information to excise; I’m overwhelmed by relevance.
This is when a consolidator would curate the best information, contextualize it into a summarized format that’s easily digestible, and then provide actionable recommendations on what to do with the information once a person has processed it. Doing so not only saves time for a consolidator’s clientele, but it would solve the overarching problem of propulsion. Because a jumping-off point is pointless unless you know where you’re jumping to, or how to get there. Consolidators are the ones who can build those roads the rest of us don’t have the time for.
We’re Going Nowhere Without a Plan
I understand that curation is sexy. People still love to be kingmakers, and in an age when anyone can create media, someone has to find the good stuff. But someone else needs to correlate the best of that information into a format that we humans can actually benefit from without squandering our most precious resource in the process. (If titles are a concern, just hire someone as your Chief Context Officer.)
Money is dead. Relevance is king. We can’t succeed without resources, and chief among those resources is time. Which is why your time should never be auctioned off to the highest bidder, because your highest bidder should always be you.
How’s that for context?
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