An (almost!) perfect meritocracy

Date published: Thursday 12th of May 2016

Today's Inside Scoop is dedicated to Martyn, from up there in Aberdeenshire.

Over in the forum, Martyn asked an interesting question yesterday. I won't paste it all in, but basically the vibe was something like this:

He has a delivery company. Recently he went out selling and managed to pick up a few new clients (congratulations) and he is looking for advice on how to build upon these achievements and take his business to the next level.

What a great question to ask! Clearly, Martyn is on a positive vibrational level and I'm sure I'm not the first person to say that when you ask good questions, your mind gives you good answers.

Of course, the answer to Martyn's question is simple. It seems to me that his question is ultimately about selling and marketing. He wants to know how to market and sell his services better so that he can attract more clients. Previously, he hasn't really had to sell in order to get business (long story) but now he is finally focusing on that aspect of his business.

So, if Martyn ever reads this then - Martyn - let me give you the answer to your question about how to sell your services and attract more clients. It's a beautiful three-word answer:

Learn About Selling

That's it!

And what a glorious age we live in because Martyn can start learning about selling from people who started from nothing and made fortunes, right this minute - from the comfort of his home. My visualisation is that very soon Martyn will be on a site like Amazon or perhaps Udemy or something, buying books or other training material, learning how to sell (and, the by the way, I think having the ability to sell is one of the most honourable and valuable skills that a person can have). Not only that, but I have a sneaky suspicion that the process is going to be fun. I mean, it starts off with an exciting little shopping trip, then he learns some cool stuff and then he gets a bunch of clients. What a beautiful world!

This year I turned 40, and what I've finally came to realise is:

* Unless you're born into a privileged family - then the amount that you earn is directly proportional to what you bring to the marketplace.

* What you bring to the marketplace is directly influenced by what you know.

* What you know is determined by the skills that you have acquired.

* The skill base that you have acquired comes about as a result of what you have learned.

So, the bottom line is - learning is everything. If you learn stuff then you get rewarded. If you don't learn stuff then you'll get punished, and I have no sympathy for you. It's as simple as that.

Just the other day, I was in Sainsbury's buying some odds and ends. After going through the automated checkout and heading outside, I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to buy some nuts. So, I turned back, went into the shop and again - made my purchase, going through an automated checkout again.

A thought occurred to me:

Here I am, a customer who has just gone into a large shop twice and on both occasions, I never interacted with a human being at all.

For a moment or two, this made me feel bad - because I felt sorry for all those thousands of checkout workers who are being effectively put out of work by machines. It seems that every year more and more jobs are being made obsolete as technology moves forward and nobody seems to be batting an eyelid. There's no strikes, no union disputes... nothing! We're all just sleepwalking into an automated, robot society and many thousands of people are being put out of work because of it.

Do you think that's a sad state of affairs?

Here's the newsflash. You're wrong! It's not a sad state of affairs. It's actually beautiful and I'd like to explain why.

You see, those checkout workers who are undoubetedly being replaced by machines are actually being freed up to do meaningful things with their lives. Read that sentence again!

Have you ever heard of the Luddites? If you haven't then let me clue you in.

The Luddites were a group of self-employed peasant weavers from the 19th century. When the industrial revolution started to kick off, the Luddites became extremely concerned and angry that their jobs were being made obsolete by new, 'high tech', industrial weaving machines. So, there were many protests and eventually these protests became violent and the army had to be called in. The key thing that became a sort of trademark of the Luddites was the sabotaging of industrial weaving machines. They would literally invade factories and start destroying weaving machines. In Holland, legend has it that the Luddites used to throw their wooden clogs into the machines, to break them.

Throughout the ages, there have always been groups of people who are resistant to technology - I dare say, resistant to progress. Do you know that when Stevenson's Rocket (an early steam powered train) was unveiled in 1829, there were leading scientists warning that the human body could not survive at such "breakneck speeds" of thirty miles per hour? The people who made these claims where, of course, on the wrong side of history.

So, those checkout workers, you, me and certainly Martyn have a choice and an opportunity.

We can learn about stuff and enjoy huge rewards, or we can go and be like the Luddites - angrily protesting progress and learning nothing - in which case we WILL be punished.

Right now I'm doing a video series on Yii2. I'm not claiming that it's the best course in the universe, but what I do know is this: there is not a single Yii developer on Earth who can't find work.

It's very simple. It's beautiful. It's perfect. THIS is the pinnacle of humanity. You learn stuff and you get rewarded - you don't learn stuff and you get punished.

That's why we are living in an almost perfect meritocracy.

I like to think that in one year from now, I'll be able to say to Martyn, "Hey man, what's your three favourite books on the subject of sales and marketing?", and he'll be able to happily come up with the titles and authors. That's a winner! That's the gold standard. Learning is everything and the day when we stop learning is the day when we start dying.

Peace, love and vegetables!


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