January 12, 2019

Easy vs simple

Fellow list member Michael Leishman wrote in with an impassioned plea (and an impressive success story) about ditching hourly billing.

His message raises what I think is an important distinction between the words easy and simple.

Here’s Michael’s message (shared with permission):

Hey Jonathan,

I can’t help myself!

PLEASE, please, please, don’t say that it is “incredibly difficult” ... it is, in fact, incredibly easy to make the transition... but it is a “mind flip.”

The only thing that makes switching from hourly billing to value pricing is our own mind set. There is absolutely NOTHING stopping any of us from waking up tomorrow and saying to our next client, “... hey, happy to work with you, let’s talk about what you really want to accomplish; I will then go away and decide whether I can help you get there, and then I will send you a proposal describing how I think we should work to accomplish your goals.

This is not rocket science, and it is NOT difficult. Sheeeeeesh!

Just wake up tomorrow and make a different proposal to your next client.

And if you don’t have “a next client” to wake up to tomorrow, then just call your sister or brother or friend ... or call Jonathan Stark and have a frickin’ 5 minute conversation AS IF YOU HAD A NEW CLIENT.

Sorry for the rant, but your process and advice has been so incredibly helpful for me over the past few years that I thought it was time to give back a little.

I am about to turn 60 (!!) and have totally transformed my one man shop from a “pair of hands” to an “indispensable person” who clients wouldn’t want to live without.

Full disclosure, I am now making around $160,000 and have Fridays free to work remotely (2 hours away, right beside a ski hill) and I will be able to transition to “full time right beside that ski hill” in about 3 years ... and my clients will continue to receive full value for their investments.

It all started with a phone call, when I said, “... let me come in and discuss what it is you need and where you are heading with your business.” That simple sentence set the tone and I have never looked back.

Sweet! (as my kids say).

Feel free to share (and edit as you see fit).

Oh, and to be clear, I was stuck at $70,000 to $110,000 with no apparent way to increase my income.

If I were in my 20’s or 30’s I would consider $70,000 to $100,000 a “starting salary.” Honestly, just by waking up tomorrow and telling yourself that you are going to help people solve their difficult problems will change your life. It did mine.

Thanks a million (literally, you know, if I work for 10 more years!!)


And here’s my reply:

Thanks for your passionate and thoughtful note, Michael! I will definitely share with the list as you so graciously permitted.

I completely understand where you are coming from. I agree that ditching hourly is all about shifting the mindset.

Over the years of coaching people through this transition I have come to draw a distinction between easy vs simple (and their opposites: difficult vs complex).

Example: lifting an engine block with your bare hands is not complex (i.e., it’s simple) but it is difficult (i.e., it’s not easy).

To apply this distinction to your message...

I wholeheartedly agree with you that what needs to change is one’s mindset. This is simple conceptually, but in my experience it is extremely difficult for most people (i.e., it’s simple but not easy).

Thanks again for taking the time to write in! Please stay in touch

Thanks to Michael for sharing!