Don't get commoditized

Don't let your work be commoditized. In his brilliant book Linchpin, Seth Godin defines art or creative work as any "personal gift that changes the recipient." Corporations do not like art. It is difficult to reproduce and control. They seek turn your art into a commodity, so they leverage it and make a profit. Then they can control their asset (your work) and pay you as little as possible. And with this, the magic and power of the art is lost.

First, they have to systematize and objectify your work so other people can do it. They then put the contract on the labor market offering very little for it. This is how you become expendable. Soon you are competing with people who are desperate for work to feed their families and willing to work for very little.

I spoke to my friend Cheryl the other day. She is a talented psychologist with many years of experience, a PhD, and much specialized training. She does deep level work from her heart that facilitates powerful change in her clients. But this work is not easy. It requires her to be intuitive and creative- and to expend a lot of energy. There are no formulaic techniques to do this kind of work.

She informed me that with what the insurance companies pay her and with her expenses, she has to see nine clients a day, five days a week, to make money. You can't do the type of work that Cheryl does on the hour, nine times a day. It doesn't work like that.

It didn't used to be this way. Insurance companies have squeezed all the profit out of this interaction that used to be between the artist and the client. Cheryl now has to do different work. Everybody loses- except of course, the insurance companies. I am not just picking on insurance companies, it could just as easy be a corporation, business, or government agency.

So what is Cheryl's recourse? Do work that cannot be turned into a commodity. Stay in control of her art.

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Wed, October 17, 2012 @ 8:01 PM

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