or: WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT THE HUMAN SPIRIT + MONEY ON MY 41st BIRTHDAY
So I did a Pay What You Can Day (hereto referred to as PWYCD) on my birthday. Recently. Many people cheered me on for “clever marketing!” And hey, I did come out of the womb with my own press release, but, you know, this wasn’t solely driven by a marketing impulse. I love the sentiment of giving gifts on your birthday. Giving feels good on any day. The PWYCD notion came to me just a few days before May 25 and, truly, I thought, Hey, what the hell? If, like 70 people get in on the deal, that’d be sweet. Ha! SEVEN HUNDRED+ e-books later, we lit up the sky with crazy delight and motivation.
What happened behind the scenes:
I went for a salt scrub that morning and when I came up for air to check my iPhone I almost fell off my lounger. Gobsmacked, as the Londoners say. My VA, Dawn and I just about keeled from the comments and the emails. (It took Dawn nearly two weeks to sort out the messages, PayPal invoices, currency exchanges, cheques, and special requests.) I got in my car and had to have a boo-happy-hoo. The stories sent to my personal email address were heart-stretching, sobering, inspiring. The outpouring of love and appreciation was stunning, and (and this is what moved me so deeply,) the spontaneous generosity sparked amongst White Hot visitors, well, that just about did me in. Between the spa steam, chocolate cake, and the PWYCD affection, I was a stun bunny.
It was a life-affirming, wisdom-bolstering, humbling event that ranks in the Top 3 highlights of my career (and birthdays!) Here’s what it confirmed:
11 Wisdoms That You Can Convert to Cash + Crazy Love
1. Creativity + Aspiration = INGENUITY. And ingenuity wins, every time.
Make up your mind to make an effort and then make it up as you go.
“Here is a promise and my offer. 1) I will pay this gift forward. 2) I will hold you in the Light with an intention for abundant blessings on you, your family, your ventures, and your efforts to make the world a better place. 3) I’ll send you 10% of every payment I receive from every client until the entire $150 is paid off.”
“If I sell a painting this week, I’ll send you $100. If I don’t sell anything, will $41 do?”
2. Initiative and specificity are sexy.
“I’ve got $37.80 in my PayPal account. It’s yours. Right now. (I wish it were so much more.) I will Tweet your praises and send you a full testimonial within two weeks of receiving the book.”
3. Humility is the inroad to conviction.
The stories of hardship, and resiliency, and exceptional wealth that were so open-heartedly shared with me from women and men in four different countries…well, be still my heart. I had flashbacks to my own days in the New Mexico welfare office after I’d lost three clients in two weeks. I had flash-forwards to my intentions for sweeping financial freedom.
“I am a broke, unfunded graduate student & I work part time and a children’s bookstore to feed my belly while I stoke my soul. I’d like to offer $30, a multiple of three, a great fairy tale number. And when my first book is published, you’ll be in the Acknowledgments.
“My situation: I am currently unemployed – but am stirred up, expectant, and on purpose. I hope to use your book to successfully launch a blog of my own. I am most humbled by your generosity and am offering to pay $75 USD.”
“I’m a single mom of two, getting food stamps, with plenty of ambition and smarts and vision. I’m good for $30 this month.”
Sharing your story is the surest way to create a unified field of empathy. And empathy moves mountains.
4. Generous people have more to give.
“Danielle, I’d like to offer $150 but in a spread-the-love way. I’d like to:
1. give $50 directly to you,
2. give $50 to whichever of these (http://u.nu/366pa) Gulf oil spill rescue & cleanup initiatives you’d like me donate to, &
3. give a final $50 on behalf of someone who can’t afford to pay anything at all for the sessions because they’ve done something very brave (like for instance, a woman leaving an abusive relationship with her young kids)”
(This gesture of Kye’s started a domino affect. We gave out about a dozen Fire Starter Sessions “scholarships” and paired up the donor with the recipient.)
“I would like to humbly offer you $28.44. I know this is not a lot and does not do justice to the work that you have put in to your Fire Starter Sessions. I am offering you this amount because it is the entire amount of extra money that I have outside of the finances that I have put aside for rent and other similar things. If you accept my offer, I promise that I will pay it forward and make sure to share both my experience with the Fire Starter Sessions and the generosity that you have shown. I can also send some vegan baked goods your way.”
“I would like to offer you $25 for the FSS. In addition, here is my deal to you:
~ Within the next 6 months, I will pay the remaining $125 to pay the full amount.
~ By your 42nd birthday, I will not only book an actual Fire Starter Session with you, but I will also pay another $150 so that someone who either cannot swing today’s offer or does not know about it can enjoy FSS, too.”
“Offering $75 for FSS and $75 for the Gulf clean up efforts – just let me know which one of those charities you prefer.”
“I can pay $50 for Fire Starter Sessions and in a month or two give another $50 to my friends organization in Haiti on your behalf. Check http://www.fida-pch.org.”
“I love this idea so much that I’m offering $200. I’ve had a tab open on your site since you launched, planning to buy when the moment was right. I’d say this is it.”
5. Giving begets giving.
This flipped me right ’round:
“I’d like to gift a copy to my fabulous friend Jo Hanlon-Moores. She is brilliant and funny and talented. And her business is growing from a little acorn. I want to bring her some fire ”
– Sas Lockey
“I can pay the full amount and am going to because your amazingly generous offer reminded me of just how very lucky we are and we live our lives by these three words – dignity, integrity and love. I hope that by paying in full I can help subsidize a copy for someone else.”
“I’d like to give you $100 directly for the Fire Starter Sessions, and $50 to a charity of your choice.”
6. You must heed the impulse to give. Generosity is a core muscle that your whole being can move on.
“Today has been full of unexpected gifts and I am now able to increase my offer to $100. Reading the comments in response to your generous offer I am struck by the power of sharing our gifts. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity within my own work, and you’ve inspired in me a grand vision for an annual pay-as-you-can gift to my extended community.”
– Sarah Juliusson
7. When you give people a break, they want to — and usually will — go the distance for you.
“I wanted to ask for FSS for $50, but I can actually afford the full price if I’m honest. But your generosity forces me to either pay in full or not at all. Sigh. Stupid freakin integrity…”
“I only have about $50 extra bucks a month, but I want to pay the full price because I know it’s worth it.”
“I’d love to pay the full $150, but with the tight spot I’m in, $40 would make my heart smile. I hope that works for you. I’d be honored to pay the balance, or make a donation to charity in your name, once my business is up and running.”
“I sold three memberships to my small site today, so that’s $60. I’d like to offer that as payment for the course right now.”
– Magpie Girl
8. Scarcity creates anxiety.
(This fact alone gives me cause to never do another time-sensitive event like this. I’m not saying that I won’t but…whoa.) We were bowled over by dozens of emails to this affect: “Did you accept my offer?” Some people left their price offer as a blog comment, then emailed me AND my VA, and also messaged me on Twitter, and in some cases, also left a message on Facebook. The sense of urgency was…urgent! I was shocked, because, in my mind (which, of course, I expected thousands of people to read), I intended to honour a huge range of offers. Need + want + restriction = urgency. And the tighter the restriction, the more likely that urgency will turn into anxiety.
9. Money makes people get all weird n’ stuff.
Money is like a chemical. Some chemicals mix nicely with other chemicals, some don’t. With my PWYCD experiment, some folks got downright demando, “I left my comment/offer this morning and I STILL haven’t heard back from you.” Chill. And I’m not saying to back off just ’cause you got a hot deal (tho’ that is a factor,) I’m saying chill because “chill” is generally better for world peace and your complexion. When money and trust occupy the same space, things move forward.
10. Generosity + healthy boundaries clearly communicated = ahhhh.
It’s fair to say that in the (now distant) past, I may have had some uh, boundary issues with my giving nature. So although I very clearly stated in the announcement: “This offer expires at midnight PST May 25, just like my birthday does. And I’m serious about it.” I was still fretting about the possibilities of pleading, after-the-fact requests. But I only got a couple of such requests and they were so gracious and dignified and sincere, that it was a total (healthy) pleasure to honour them.
11. Humanity is, on the whole, generous, loving and kind. People want to give.
And when you operate on that foundational premise, you are actively allowing amazing things to happen.