I’d like anyone who is interested in accessing my services to be able to do so at a cost with which they are comfortable. And I want to support myself with this work.  In other words, I believe perceptions about money get in the way of personal and organizational growth and I long to surmount that obstacle while making enough money to sustain myself.

~ David R. McCain

We have a HUGE Racial Wealth Gap

What is the greatest predictor whether a high school student will go to college? Is it his or her SAT Scores? GPA? IQ? Quality of application? No.  The greatest predictor whether a high school student will go to college is his parent’s income.  If you’re parents have money, you are more likely to have the opportunity to learn and grow in a college environment.  Here’s an interactive article from the New York Times that makes this point.

Forbes Magazine, in a review of a report on the Racial Wealth Gap, states that “The typical black household now has just 6% of the Racial Wealth Gapwealth of the typical white household; the typical Latino household has just 8%” and that “

[i]n absolute terms, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011, compared to $7,113 for the median black household and $8,348 for the median Latino household.”  This is clear evidence that members of minority groups are less likely to go to college and access the jobs and higher standard of living that come with a college degree.

I have been actively marketing my business this summer and have found what I already knew:  most people attracted to my work are middle-class (and up), white people, especially women.  Those with the time and resources to seek out “personal growth” and “effective communication” trainings.

I am very clear that I want my services to be accessible to a much larger group of people.  I’m experimenting both by sharing my work with other groups than white middle-class folks and I’m inviting all those considering working with me to look at money differently when they consider paying me to provide services to them.

Don’t Work for Money!

When I attended the 9-day International Intensive Training from the Center for Nonviolent Communication, I heard Marshall Rosenberg talk about how he works with money.  He began his presentation by stating that, many years previously, he had “decided to withdraw from the world economic system.”  He went on to describe the three steps he took to do this. Below are the notes I took in this session:

  1.  Never do any work FOR money
    • Do the work that’s in harmony with your calling
    • If you serve life, life will serve you
    • You need to ask, ask, ask
      • A mother doesn’t breast feed to get fed, she gets fed elsewhere
  2. Never Charge $, Request money to do your work
    • Money is a strategy not a need
    • a handy exchange tool
    • Request money as a gift, I’m giving the service, but I want support to do it in the future
    • Have a dialogue
      • Ask:  What would you enjoy giving?  Express what you’d be comfortable receiving?
    • He found that he got more money than expected
  3. Move away from the question: “What’s it worth?”
    • To think you are worth anything is dehumanizing
      • You can’t afford to buy one second of my life
    • Our judicial and economic systems are based on WORTH
      • We’re conditioned to see the world through a lens of “worth”
      • The Retributive Justice perpetuates this belief by using “deserve” language

Instead: Ask for a Gift to “Pay it Forward”

The story I remember him telling was about buying jeans at a store.  When you visit the store and purchase a pair of jeans, you pay it forward 081416aren’t paying for that specific pair.  The company has already produced that pair given resources they had before you came to the store. You are paying to allow the manufacturer and the store to make more pairs of pants.

Following this vein, Marshall stated that he sees his work as a “gift” he has the resources to provide.  He requests a “gift” from the recipient of the services, not to “pay for” the service he is providing, but to allow him to provide the service in the future.

This is the language I use when I dialogue with people about the “cost” of my services.

If you are considering using my services, consider the service as a “gift”. Ask yourself what sort of “gift” you are comfortable giving to allow others to access these services in the future (think beyond just money; I love to barter).  Then we can dialogue to create a mutually-satisfying agreement!