Even after a decade of being paid up to $1500/hour for a conversation, I still have moments where I look at my business and I ask myself:
“What the fuck do I actually do? Is this for real?”
These are not moments of doubt in my ability.
They are more like existential thunderclaps; those moments when you suddenly realize you are a meaningless speck of nothing on a rock hurling through a galaxy in a universe that may be just one of infinite universes.
I am standing there in my regular life, happy with it all, but equally flabbergasted.
“Is it really worth paying money to have a conversation with me? Or have I just fallen under some delusion and somehow brought others along with me into that hole?”
When I have these moments now, I do not push them away. I invite them and allow myself to slip into the fullness of them in the way you might find a kind of pleasure in becoming deeply present with the throbbing of a thumb you have just accidentally smashed with a hammer.
I entertain the possibility that I am a fucking lunatic and a liar, not to encourage these ideas, but to get to know where they come from and why they raise themselves from the dead of my psyche now and then.
Always, I meet there my younger self. The one seeking approval for being a good boy, worthy of love and freedom. He’s got a crow bar in his hands, trying to pry free the ground on which I stand.
All he usually needs is a hug. Typically this comes in the form of a simple reminder, riffing on Fred Rogers, “You’re OK man. You’re lovable just the way you are.”
But we don’t finish there. Once we work it out, there’s still more we can do. Because his questions are a crowbar, I don’t consider them rhetorical. I consider them worthy of answering. In fact, if we’re to put my floor back together and make it stronger than it was before he started pulling it up, then the questions will be very good to answer.
Let’s approach the ones I asked above.
“Am I deluding myself that a conversation with me is worth money?”
No, in fact, I have not fallen under a delusion. I know conversations with me are worth money, because I make sure that they are. I don’t leave it as something to wonder about.
I ask people specifically what will be worthwhile to them and then I help them to have it. And I check in with them, over and over again, to be sure they are getting it.
“Am I deluding others that a conversation with me is worth money?”
I make no efforts to convince anyone that a conversation with me is worth anything at all. I let them decide on their own.
The fees for my coaching – including the fee for Creator’s Circle – I look at in the same way as the price of a house for sale. In the real estate industry, they call it an ‘asking price’, because ultimately a buyer determines the value. All the owner of the house can do is ask the market for a certain amount of money. If a buyer agrees, then the owner sells it and moves out. If not, then they can either stay put or ask for something different.
In this same way, my coaching fees are ‘asking prices’. People choose to pay them, often times repeatedly. There is not much greater evidence that a conversation with me is worth money than this.
“Is this for real?”
When this question comes up, my mind is typically comparing a conversation to something more tangible, like manual labor. I’m grateful to my father for ensuring my first experiences of working and making money were hard manual labor. Mowing lawns, digging holes and painting houses all day in hot humid summer gave me an appreciation for hard work. Later he taught me to transcend working hard to working smart, but having my grounding in working hard I believe is an important foundation. Having this as a foundation, I sometimes slip up and forget that there are other ways to make money which are just as real. Most money today moves around the world with nothing physical changing as a direct result.
Recently in a session with my branding consultant Gil, he remarked how he works all week and nothing in the physical world changes…just a bunch of data on the internet is different.
The trick of the mind here is twofold.
First, as I’ve been describing, I am forgetting that the physical world is not the only world we live in. To be human is to inhabit a conceptual world which is equally, if not even more, impactful on our humanity. For better and for worse, the memetic universe is exactly that which individuates us from the rest of the physical universe.
Second though is the myopic attention on the direct results of a conversation. Gil’s impact on my business and life has been profound. Sure, we talk about my brand, but it changes how I see myself and how others see me, it changes the conversations I have, it changes the services I offer, it changes our income, it changes what food we eat and where we decide to live, it changes who I buy from, what I donate to, and so on. In the same way, of course, a conversation with me not only changes how a person feels about themselves and sees the world, it changes how they behave, it changes what action they take, it changes the results they get in their life. Our conversations change their relationships – how well they get along, how much sex they have, whether they stay together or separate – it changes their actual dollars in the bank income. Last week a client wrote me:
“You could say that in one coaching session JP helped me to create $240K.”
I think he was making less than six figures before we met and he’s already just shy of $500,000 in sales this year. All I have ever done for him is have a conversation. And now he’s moving his family to a bigger house on a lake in the country.
Is this for real? Yes, it is very fucking real.
“What the fuck do I actually do?”
Well, since you asked, I’ll tell you.
I take the simplest and most common activity known to man and I turn it into an art form.
For me, a conversation is not a conversation. It is a journey to the center of the universe. When a person speaks, I listen to everything at once. To them, to me and the infinite space in between us. I allow their phenomenology to unfold before me and meet theirs with mine. I wield my attention and my language with the zeal of a flamenco dancer and the steadiness of a surgeon.
The bounds of my conversation with a person are not the time and space it appears we are together. Our conversation begins when I rise in the morning and it completes when I rest my head to sleep at night. Everything that I do throughout each day is the collecting and habituating of a being that is the source of my listening and saying whenever I am with a person. This is the case for everyone in fact. Since conversation is my profession however, I make a continual conscious effort to optimize this collecting and habituating so that that which I be in conversation is always superior to what it was yesterday.
With the same fervor that I most viscerally know as that which pulls me incessantly up a dusty trail of a snowcapped mountain, I am and always have been enthralled with increasing my capacity to create in conversation. At the summit I am remembered forever for this capacity, but to be honest, I don’t even care if I ever make. I just love climbing.
What I actually do is have a conversation with people that very few people on earth are capable of having. Not because I’m special or know any secrets, but just because I am relentless in learning to do what everyone does, but exceptionally well.
Some people believe that’s worth money.
A few times a year a dozen of us start an 8 month journey together. It’s called Creator’s Circle.
If you’re interested in being one of these 12, then express your interest here and I’ll be sure to get in touch about space when we have it.
Loving you, JP ❤️