Psychic Income vs. Financial Income

What is the difference between an infopreneur and a snake oil salesman?


The snake oil salesman is only interested in money.  He knows the snake oil doesn’t work and it may not even be real snake oil.  The reason he sells the snake oil is only for the money.  He doesn’t care whether he helps someone with their problems or whether he is providing a great product or service.

Yes, money is important.  If you don’t have money, then you won’t be able to support the great work you do.  However, money is not the only thing that is important.  For infopreneurs, their goal or mission is centered around helping people, solving problems, realizing their vision, or just having an impact.  This is their great work.  Money allows them to do their great work, but money is not their only motivation.

About 10 years ago, I discovered something that really surprised me.   I was not motivated by money.   I was motivated by ideas, by people, by solving problems.  It surprised me because I grew up in a middle class family who idolized upward mobility and financial status.  Everyone I knew believed in getting an education, building a career and making lots of money.  The more money, the better.  Money had a way of confirming that everything you have ever done was right because it got you the money you so richly deserved.   I followed that path for a long time by going to a prestigious prep school, an Ivy League college, and then going on to graduate school three times.

Perhaps going to graduate school for the third time should have tipped me off.   I was not motivated by money.  But it was not until I was over 40 that I realized it for myself.  I was a lawyer starting my own law practice, working with entrepreneurs.  Instead of just cranking out documents, I started helping people.  Not intentionally at first; I just started spending more time listening to the client, and helping them to solve problems, and encouraging them to pursue their dreams.

Something shifted, my focus was no longer on the transaction or the documentation; it was on the client.  What were they passionate about?  What impact did they want to have?  What was really important?  Those were the questions that really mattered.

I’m not a psychotherapist.  I’m a business lawyer…so why?  Why is helping people important?  I started using my business and legal skills to help clients solve problems.  But why?  Because clients are people and by putting people first (not their business or their money), I discovered it felt good.  There was more purpose in my work, more satisfaction.   It was what I later called “psychic income”.

Psychic income is just as important, or should I say more important, than financial income.  Without psychic income people leave their job, leave their career, and leave their friends, family or spouse.  Along the way, I discovered that we need both psychic income and financial income to truly be happy.  Financial income pays the bills; psychic income feeds the soul.

We all need psychic income (except maybe psychopaths), but seldom do we acknowledge it or measure it the way we measure the size of our bank accounts.  What would the world be like if everyone measured their success by the number of good deeds they did or the number of really hard problems they solved, or the number of people they helped?

So, why is psychic income important for infopreneurs?  Because without it, infopreneurs are just snake oil salesmen selling the newest elixir.  Psychic income brings integrity to the information industry.  If we are not trying to help people with our information products, then there is no integrity.  And without integrity, there is no trust.  And without trust, people stop buying our information products and we cannot serve those we seek to help or have the impact we would like to have on the world.

An infopreneur is motivated to do good in the world.  And that is the difference between a snake oil salesman and an infopreneur.

Roger Glovsky is co-founder of Indigo Venture Law Offices, a business law firm based in Colorado and Massachusetts, which provides legal counsel to entrepreneurs and high-tech businesses. Mr. Glovsky is also founder of InfoCrowd, a networking group for information entrepreneurs and, a collaboration and networking site for lawyers.

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