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Transaction is one of the building blocks of civilization. Business and commerce is built on transaction, where two parties participate in a trade that they both deem fair.

When we think about currency, it’s easy to think about money, gold, or other things that are physical, but there’s another currency that every human being has: time.

There’s an old saying that says, “Time is money”, but in reality, they are not the same thing. Time can be traded for money, and vice versa.

As a brand, it can be easy to think that our biggest asset is money, because it allows us to grow and expand—but without a healthy view of time, money is irrelevant.

On today’s episode, we’re going to explore the relationship between time and money and how skill and value come into the conversation.

Highlights, Takeaways, Quick Wins
  • Time and money are currencies.
  • The way you spend your time is much more valuable than the way you spend your money, because time is a limited resource.
  • You can always get more money, but you can’t get more time.
  • Money is a man-made resource, so the scarcity of money is also man-made.
  • Knowing people opens up opportunities.
  • Your brand is the culmination of the people within it.
  • Just because you’re not actively making money in a moment doesn’t mean that you’re not becoming a better person.
  • Investing in relationships can be linked to income indirectly.
  • Having less time doesn’t mean your time is more valuable—it depends on why you have less time.
  • Invest time and money into acquiring skills that will help you free up more time and gain more money.
Show Notes
  • 04:48 Cory: During the pre-show, Kyle and I were talking about how, last week, we talked about scaling your productivity and the different ways you can gain more time (Related: e028 Scaling Your Productivity). We talked about automation, hiring, delegation, and snippets. This week, we want to expand on that a little bit more and talk about the value of time as it relates to money, our businesses, and our brands. There are a lot of different philosophies out there about time, but for the sake of this show and our purposes, we’ll talk about time according the the average understanding. We’ll assume time is linear, that there are beginnings and ends of periods of time.
  • 05:55 Starting at 12am and ending at 11:59am, that is a span of time that fits within the day as we know it. Time and money are currencies. They are both things that can be gained, spent, utilized, and traded. The idea of bartering goes back to the beginning of man. If you have something I want and I have something you want, we trade those things. We make a transaction so you have what you want and I have what I want. In the same way, people trade time for money or money for money. We want to pull that apart a little bit and look at how, as a brand, we should look at money. What are good ways to look at money? What are good ways to look at time, and how are they connected?

The Difference Between Money & Time

  • 07:16 Kyle: It’s interesting that Cory said that both can be acquired, because technically, you can’t add time to anything. That’s the big issue I have with the saying, “Time is money,” because that implies that they are equals. The problem with that is that time is a finite resource. We don’t know exactly how much time we have, because we don’t know when the end of our lives will come, but we only have so much of it.

Money is an infinite resource—you could earn money your entire life and never own all of the money in the world.

  • 07:58 It is renewable, replenishable, and there can be a return on investment. With time, you can’t put time in and get time back. That’s your life. It’s not possible. That’s my stance on time and money. Technically, the way you spend your time is much more valuable than the way you spend your money. That’s not to say that money should not be respected. It definitely should be, but money can be spent more freely than time.
  • 08:34 Cory: When I said that time can be gained or acquired, the idea is that time can be freed up. We have a lot of things that can take our time, and not all of those are bad things. Those can be things like making breakfast in the morning or spending time with our family or having coffee with a friend. There are a lot of different ways that you can, in a sense, gain more time, by adjusting your actions to free it up. I understand what Kyle is saying, too, because time just goes. Time is happening right now, and at some point, our time as individuals is going to run out. You can just go print money—don’t do that, but know that you can constantly make money.
  • 09:31 There is always going to be an abundance of it. It reminds me of the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There’s a great line that I absolutely love, where Charlie is talking to one of his grandfathers, I think, and he’s talking about selling the golden ticket. He gets the golden ticket, and his family is really poor, so he says, “We should go sell it. Someone offered me $1,000, and I’m sure someone would want to pay us more.” His grandfather, I think, calls him over and says, “Do you know how many golden tickets there are in the world?”
  • 10:14 There are five golden tickets. “Money is made every single day. Only a dummy would give up something so rare for something as common as money.” They’re a very poor family, but he’s saying that buckets of money are being printed all the time, so why would you give up something so valuable in exchange for something as common as money? I love that because it puts it into perspective.

If you put in the work and the time you can always get more money, but you can’t get more time.

  • 11:05 Kyle: A lot of people have an emotional connection to money, and sometimes that overshadows their time. Money is the thing most people see as something you can spend, and that’s true. It’s what we, as humans, use to trade for things. A long time ago, you could barter things and trade an object for an object, but in our current economy, money works really well. You don’t have to have something that someone else desires, because everyone is on an equal playing field. Money can be used for whatever the person wants to use it for when they receive it.
  • 11:47 It’s not like giving someone a chicken, and they have to use that chicken either to eat or to lay eggs. You can use money to buy whatever you want to. Money and time are resources, but money is a man-made resource, so the scarcity of money is also man-made. Cory, are you familiar with why diamonds are so rare? I don’t remember the name of the organization, but a long time ago, there were two companies mining for and producing diamonds. They got together and decided to limit the amount of diamonds they were handing out so they could market to the upper class. They wanted to sell them for a high price.
  • 12:57 They artificially restricted the amount of diamonds, and they only sold them to very wealthy individuals. Eventually, they realized that this wasn’t bringing in as much profit as they wanted, so they decided to put more diamonds into the economy. They decided to start marketing things like engagement rings, saying, “Usually, only high class people have this stone. To give this to your partner as a sign of wanting to marry them is ultra-special, because diamonds are rare.” It’s all a marketing tactic.
  • 13:41 If all the diamonds were brought in, there are so many that they’re almost worthless. Sellers limit them to up the value because of their scarcity. Essentially, that’s how money works as well. Every economy regulates the amount of money they’re putting out. Money is infinite, but the one thing humans don’t have the ability to do is to restrict or expand time.
  • 14:12 Cory: Karma, our Community financial guru, said, “The truth is, diamonds are much less rare than we have been lead to believe. The De Beers Group has maintained a near-perfect monopoly of the diamond trade for more than a century.” You can create a false scarcity to drive sales, a false supply for more demand. Ultimately, it depends on how we value those things. Garrett just brought that up, “The crazy thing is that if our culture, as a whole, agreed that diamonds are stupid, they would be worth nothing overnight.” That’s true.
  • 15:05 Kyle: It’s the same with money. Canadian dollars are typically higher valued than American dollars, and that’s because of the way we limit them and the value we put on those. That’s the only reason for the value of money in any economy. In some places, you get thousands of units of money for one US dollar, and in other places you get 75 cents for one American dollar. This frames time and money in a good way, so we understand how those resources come to be.

The Value in Relationships

  • 15:50 Cory: Joe asked a great question that leads into this next part. He asks, “I feel like I’m wasting my time if the work I’m doing isn’t the work that makes money—work like scheduling, social networking, and researching. How can I trick myself to accept the work that I do that adds value that’s intangible? I have difficulty prioritizing the work that literally doesn’t make money from 8 to 5. Then, work that doesn’t make money gets done after hours, and that makes my family sad.”
  • 16:19 That is hard. We strive so hard to get money, because we look at the life we want to live, the goals we want to attain, and the kind of people we want to be, and we can forget that money isn’t the only way that you get that kind of thing.
  • 16:42 Kyle: There’s some long term thinking that has to come into play. Something like networking, for example, where you’re talking to people and building connections, may be currently intangible, but they will eventually turn into something tangible. Cory and I talk and build a relationship and we’re good friends, and now I’m on this podcast. It’s not like I intentionally became friends with Cory so that I could be on a podcast.

Knowing people opens up opportunities—if you work in a vacuum and only make money, there isn’t a lot of reward in that.

  • 17:23 There are so many experiences you’re missing out on by not having a relationship with someone else and not doing that networking. People are passing my name along to other people because I do icon design and they don’t. It’s hard to talk about networking, because I think some people think about networking as making connections just to make money. That’s not what I’m talking about here at all. I’m talking about genuine connections, friendships, and relationships. However, if they’re in your industry, it’s true that there will likely be some form of return for having those relationships.
  • 18:09 Cory: Your brand is the culmination of the people within it. Whether you’re the only person running your brand, you have 500 people, or you have 1,000 people, your brand is the culmination of all of those people. That means output, customer service, and all of the external and the internal stuff. If the people that are operating your brand, including you, aren’t healthy, then your brand is not going to be healthy. There are plenty of people I look at and think, “You aren’t going to be directly related to me making money, because all we’re doing is meeting up at coffee and encouraging each other.” That’s not actively making me money.
  • 18:58 However, that encouragement, that conversation, could be making me better as a person. It could help me have clarity of mind and become better than I currently am, which is going to become an expression of myself, and that will form and shape the brand I want to create. Just because you’re not actively making money in a moment doesn’t mean that you’re not becoming a better person. I want to make sure people hear that. Especially brands, businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs have this drive to make a profit. We feel like we have to transact, and the only way to grow is to make more money. Making money is how we scale.
  • 19:49 That’s not the only thing we need as human beings, and that’s not the only thing your brand needs. If all you had were time and money, that still wouldn’t be enough. There are things like skill and meeting a need. There are always going to be interactions with other people. Things like that that make up a brand that aren’t just about time and money. Those are just assets to help us attain our goals, but that’s not complete. If you get to the end of your business and your brand, if you’ve run a great brand for 25 years and you realize that you don’t have any relationships because all you did was work on the business, are you going to die alone? Are you going to actually have a legacy?
  • 20:36 Are people actually going to remember you, or are you just going to be the workaholic that always frustrated them because you never invested in them? There is so much there that people don’t see because it’s not directly linked to income.

Investing in relationships can be linked to income indirectly, because if you’re healthy, your brand is going to be healthy.

  • 21:00 Kyle: There are some subtle nuances there. I truly believe that the people that get your time are the people that value it. As your brand grows and becomes bigger, more and more people will be vying for your time. That’s inevitable, and it’s great. If I had infinite time, I would love to sit down with each individual person and have hours of conversation. As things go along, the way to figure out who you should give your time to is to see who really values it. These are people who won’t continue trying to take advantage of that time.
  • 21:57 It’s more of a respect thing. It’s not necessarily that they pay you or that you’ll make a clear return from it, but they respect your time and you respect their time as well. You understand that people are busy because you’re busy. You don’t want to be around people who continually use that time and don’t value it. That’s important for people who are starting a brand, it’s growing, and they’re starting to have people contact them. They understand the value of relationships, but they can’t keep up. Don’t dismiss people, but understand that you need to use your time as a resource. If you let too many people use your time, you won’t continue to gain money. The reason to gain money is to continue doing what you’re doing. If you address every audience member one-on-one all the time, you could end up losing money, and that’s not helping them, because you won’t be in existence anymore.

Is Time More Valuable if You Have Less of It?

  • 23:29 Cory: Jeremiah asked the question, “Is time more valuable if you have less of it? For example, in business, if I’m super busy, is my time worth more to someone who wants my attention than if I’m less busy? How does this work when charging clients?” It depends on how much you can make in that time and how much that time will result in making for the person meeting with you. This is something that I learned from Sean McCabe, our boss. What is an hour worth to me (Related: seanwes tv171 How Much is Your Time Really Worth?)? Well, how much can I make in that hour? If I sat down and I wasn’t interrupted, how much could I make? That’s what it’s worth.
  • 24:19 I want to add something to that. Your time may be valuable to you, but this may be about someone else who wants to meet with you. Let’s say that I do consulting for $500 a hour. I would say, “My time is worth $500 an hour.” Somebody hiring me wouldn’t be thinking about that. They would be thinking, “Is my investment of $500 going to be worth what it will pay off in the long run?” There’s a different valuation here, so if there isn’t an agreement on that exchange of value, it isn’t going to happen.

Having less time doesn’t mean your time is more valuable—it depends on why you have less time.

  • 25:09 It also depends on how much value you can deliver to someone else in that amount of time. If I’m cramming all this stuff into my day because I’m disorganized and I don’t know how to set up my day in a way that lets me flow and get things done, I could go meet with someone for 15 minutes and say, “This should be $1,000.” But, because I’m disorganized, there’s no way I can focus and deliver $1,000 worth of value to that person in 15 minutes. In that case, no, time isn’t more valuable just because I have less of it. If I can use my time to deliver a certain amount of value to someone else, then it’s valuable. It depends on why you have less time and what amount of value you can deliver to the other person.
  • 26:07 Kyle: There are some different ways to look at that. Let’s say that someone from your brand’s audience reaches out to you and says, “Hey Cory! I’m in town. Do you want to go meet up for coffee?” You may not even have a conversation about your brand. You may just get to know them, and it’s time spent where you could be at home, working. You have to realize that that turns into value later. You got to know this person, and because you connected with that one person, you’re more likely to connect with a lot of your audience. You understand your audience more because you’re connecting with people on a real basis and you’re having real conversations with them.
  • 27:04 You can take that and use it for any content, newsletters, or things that you’re putting out there. Talk to that one person, and it will resonate with your entire audience. If that resonates, that resonating message will translate to someone that does want to buy from you, who invests in your consultation, product, or service.

Assets Besides Time & Money

  • 27:32 It’s tough for me, because it’s inherent in my nature to look at things as investments. What is my return on this investment? It’s not always monetary. If I could spend five hours listening to something, and that translates to five extra hours in a day because I’m more productive, then I’m willing to invest that time. Three hours at a coffee shop talking to somebody could translate to me being able to connect with people better and actually being able to have relationships, and that’s worth it to me. Joe’s question earlier talked about using time and building relationships and whether it feels like wasting time.
  • 28:36 There are a lot of people that don’t understand the value of building relationships, because it doesn’t immediately translate to money. People need to have that. It’s so freeing for me, as someone who has been very introverted my whole life. The other day, I had a conversation with the guy who came to deliver our pizza. We talked for five minutes, and that used to not happen with me. I would have answered the door, given him the money, and said bye. That was it. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, but I didn’t know how to start a conversation. It’s so limiting.
  • 29:27 If you think that’s a waste of time, think of all the benefits that can come from that, like your ability to do something like this—a podcast—where you talk to someone. It could build your ability to meet people you want to meet. If there’s someone you really want to meet but you’re not confident in your social skills, you can’t really meet them. If you’re working with clients, your time investment getting to know people helps you be confident when speaking with clients. You understand how to communicate better. Recently, I wrote an article about conferences and the value of them, and 90% of that article is about relationships. It’s huge. That’s one of my favorite ways to invest my time, because it translates to a lot of things.
  • 30:29 Cory: There is so much that goes into building a brand that’s not just time and money. That’s ultimately the bottom line of this episode.

Don’t look at your brand only as a culmination of time and money, because it’s not going to work out.

  • 30:49 There are so many other things that you can use as part of it. For instance, earlier in the episode, I mentioned having skills. This plays into my frustration with hourly wages. I have lots of thoughts and opinions on hourly wages. If you’re working for yourself, doing freelance, and you have a design company, let’s say you get hired. You think, “I’ll budget out ten hours, so I’ll get paid for ten hours. I work for $60 an hour, and I make $600.” Your skill is what allows you to do the work. I have a friend who’s a developer, and a couple of years ago he was a developer for this big company. Before he left to do full time freelance, he warned the company.
  • 32:56 He said, “I’m going to line you out. Here are all the things. Make sure you get a full time developer to address these issues. Do not outsource. Get somebody internal.” They didn’t do it. A month or two later, he gets a frantic call on a Friday night saying, “A bug happened, and our system is not working. We’re literally losing thousands of dollars right now. Please, can you fix it?” He said sure, and he goes and logs in and it takes him a little less than a day. In a few hours, he fixes the problem. If he was working at an hourly rate, if he put in five hours, that’s $300, assuming he worked for $60 an hour.
  • 33:53 That company was hemorrhaging thousands of dollars every hour. It only took this guy a little bit of time, but because his skill allowed them to not lose money, his skill was the asset he was using. He sent the company an invoice for $12,000 for a weekend’s worth of work. They wrote back, confused at the high price, and he wrote to them and said, “You would have lost far more than $12,000 if I hadn’t come in. If you had brought in and trained up another developer, that would have taken weeks. For him to even identify the problem would have taken another week. You’re looking at $100,000 of money and time you would have to spend, not to mention what you’re losing.” His skill allowed them to not lose that money, so the $12,000 totally made sense.
  • 34:56 He wasn’t basing on hourly. He was basing on skill. Having a brand isn’t just about having time and money and using those to grow. It’s also about saying, “What do I have to offer that other people need, that’s going to make their life better?” You can invest time and money into acquiring skills that will help you free up more time and gain more money. Time and money aren’t the only things you’re working for. You have to also build skills and relationships. You have to network. All of those things, together, make up your business and your brand.
  • 35:49 We called the title here The Relationship Between Time and Money, but we should almost put in parentheses, The Relationship Between Time and Money (and Everything Else). It’s all connected. Time and money are not binary. There are all these other variables you have to take into consideration to help build up those other things.

People Don’t Value What They Don’t Pay Fo

  • 36:10 Kyle: I hope the real valuable takeaway for you, as the listener, is to get a new perspective of time and money. Time is a freely given resource, but it comes at the cost of being a finite resource. It is not able to be replenished. It’s going away every second, even as you listen to this podcast. Money can be acquired. It is not freely given; it’s earned. Understanding those concepts and how they work together is very valuable here. A lot of people charge for time. You do consultation work, for instance. Some people are afraid to charge for that time, because they think, “I can freely give that time, and it doesn’t feel right to charge for that, because it doesn’t cost me anything to have time.”
  • 37:20 It does cost you, beyond the monetary, in that you’re using an unreplenishable resource. People don’t really value what they don’t pay for, typically. There are friends, people you know, and people you talk to who will value being able to sit and talk with you, but if a random person contacts you for what would be consultation, a lot of people won’t take that time as meaningful or put your advice into practice if they’re not paying to get that information.
  • 38:10 Cory: It also depends on the relationship between the two people. Giving a free gift to someone you have a relationship with is much more valuable than giving that gift to someone who’s trying to take advantage of what you do. Yesterday was my wife’s birthday, so let’s say that I bought her a $30 hierloom. It was kind of janky, but she said thanks. In 30 years, though, she might look at it and say, “That has a lot of value to me. Cory gave me this gift.” It doesn’t matter that I only spent $30, because she values it in a different way. That’s because we have a relationship. She knows that the value isn’t in the money, it’s in the relationship.
  • 39:15 It has to be done in the right context. If you offered consultation to someone pro-bono and they know that you usually charge $500 an hour, they’ll say, “Wow, I should have paid $500 for this.” That is so much more valuable than saying, “Let’s just meet up and you can pick my brain.” They’re not valuing your time. They’re only valuing what they get out of it, so they’re only thinking about themselves and not about you. It really depends on the level of relationship you have with that person.

How are you valuing all of your assets—your time, your money, your skill, your relationships, your investments—and do others value them as much as you do?

  • 40:18 Kyle: Cory mentioned hourly work and people who trade their time for fairly small amounts of money per hour, and I’ve been in that place. A long time ago, I worked hourly at a fast food restaurant. I’ve had those jobs, and I get it. Even at that time, though, my mindset was, “I have time. I could use my time to make money, and this person is offering me a certain amount for my time.” It didn’t translate to me that there was a value attached to that time. I figured that time was free for me, and they were going to pay me for it. That’s an easy place to get stuck.
  • 41:06 You can think that any amount of money for your time is better than not making money for your time, but really, for most people, your time is worth more than you would evaluate it. A lot of people undervalue their time, and it’s dangerous to do that. You end up using more time to make the money you would need to sustain yourself, and it’s a vicious cycle.
  • 41:42 Cory: It also depends on what you’re trying to acquire. I can’t just walk up to my wife and say, “Here’s $100. That should make us good for a while, right?” She doesn’t want my $100! She wants me to spend time with her. She wants me to sit down and watch an episode of White Collar. She wants me to take her out on a date and to go on walks. Those things don’t get me any monetary return, but I am getting a deeper relationship with someone who values my time more than she values my money. Jeremiah says, “Don’t kid yourself. She wants the $100 too.” It depends on what you’re trying to acquire. What are your goals? Who are you trying to become? What are you trying to have your brand become, and what do you use to get that? Time, money, skill, whatever.