Looking for Gold — or Making Money?

Gold was discovered in California in the spring of 1848.  By May of 1848 reports were flying that “there was more gold than all the people in California could take out in fifty years.”  28-year-old Samuel Brannan opened the small store at John Sutter’s Fort, right in the heart of the gold rush.  Brannan took a little vial of gold and traveled the hundred miles back to San Francisco.  As he stepped off the train, he swung his hat, waved the bottle and shouted, “Gold! Gold! Gold!  By the middle of June, three quarters of the male population had left town for the gold mines near Sutter’s Fort.

Brannan never looked for gold, but selling shovels, picks and supplies to the wide-eyed miners made him California’s first millionaire.  His store was selling as much as $5000 a day (about $140,000 in 2008 dollars) in goods to the miners.

Did all the miners find their “pot of gold?”  Not a chance.  Most of them wasted time and meager resources only to return to their original homes, poor and discouraged.

So where are you looking for income opportunities?  In the last ten years thousands of people jumped on the computer bandwagon, believing that programming, web design and software development were the only real sources of wealth.  As you know, not everyone going in this direction has become wealthy?  But are there associated opportunities with this area of focus – absolutely!  In the last ten years the number of massage therapists has quadrupled.  (Our massage therapist comes to our house every Friday afternoon.  Her rates are $70 an hour and she stays booked weeks in advance.)  People who work on computers all day are prime candidates for massage.

The chair I am sitting in is a HumanScale Freedom Chair.  It’s an $850 solution to the posture challenges of sitting in front of a computer.  I can’t imagine being without it.  In the background I have music playing -specifically setting the stage for productive “knowledge work.” 

Is it possible that in your own search for “gold” you are overlooking the opportunity to become a millionaire by selling picks and shovels?

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18 Responses to “Looking for Gold — or Making Money?”

  1. Karen Tinsley-Kim Says:

    Here’s my pick and shovel, and it is much more affordable than the previously-mentioned HumanScale Freedom Chair (how about 5% of the cost) while providing much of the same comfort but for the lower body: The patent-pending Redema Ottoman Footrest. I designed it as a pregnant teacher who needed portable lightweight elevation, especially during my last trimester as I craved relief from my edema, or lower-body swelling when sitting. It just went on the market via my web site (www.redema.us) this past year, and I can honestly say the Redema (pronounced “reedeemah”) is now providing comfort all over the world. I’m open to commercial possibilities, but in the meantime my little “shovel” is delightfully taking away the discomfort of sitting at a computer or wherever I go. It continues to be a delight to “Redema soles and more,” which is a satisfying passion to provide an effective ergonomic item at an affordable cost. It’s also fun to have had quite a few purchase a Redema after visiting much more expensive chair web sites. I’m still teaching ESL because this is my passion, but the intent is to supplement income enough for my Korean minister husband and I to do work with the internationals in the Central Florida Area and beyond. 48 Days is also prayerfully inspiring us to explore doing this kind of ministry online as Culture Coaches. May God continue to bless your means of equipping the rest of us!

  2. Gary Says:

    Dan, the story of Samuel Brannan is truly relevant, in more ways than one. I’m confident you meant it in the most positive sense — Brannan saw a good opportunity, invested himself into it, and prospered. But it’s also clear that, at the least, Brannan used dishonest means to profit from the hopes of others and contributed to the financial ruin of many trusting families. He became a millionaire while countless husbands, fathers and sons died penniless in the wilderness because they believed Brannan’s shouts of “Gold!”

    While the tree of opportunity still blossoms every morning, even here in my home State of Michigan, an almost overwhelming number of Brannan-style scams are being shouted before us constantly. Anyone looking for “work we love” must carefully avoid two pitfalls: the Samuel Brannans offering quick paths to riches; and the even more insidious trap of becoming a Samuel Brannan ourselves through shady pyramids and dishonest schemes which prey on the trust or hopes of others.

    I would rather go through life poor than face my Lord to give account for having abused another person’s trust and perhaps ushering them into ruin.

  3. Maria Britt Says:

    Just wanted to know what music you play in the background for productive “knowledge work.” Thanks!

  4. Tom Says:

    I’m not sure that your story was a good one. I want to ‘make my gold’ but not at the expense of misleading others and leaving them poor and destitute.

    I don’t think that is God’s way either.

    Pet Rocks… took nothing from no one, built up no false hopes and found a few hundred thousand rocks a nice home… nice idea… 🙂

  5. Rainer Says:

    Dan, I work from home as well, and am looking for more solutions to be more productive. What music do you find works well for productive “knowledge work”?

  6. 48days Says:

    Karen — what a delightful and perfect example of selling shovels in a gold-seeking world. I love the name of your product and it’s functionality. I trust you will see great success and more than just a little side income from this. You’ve obviously gone through a lot of important steps to get to this point. Having done it once you are now in a position to plug in other products and services anytime you want. Congratulations!

  7. 48days Says:

    Gary — your point is well taken. I used the story of Samuel Brannan as a quick metaphor — but didn’t really tell “the rest of the story.” He was extremely arrogant in both his business and personal dealings. His wife finally got tired of his constant womanizing — demanded a cash settlement which forced him into the ruin of his businesses. He was forced to sell pencils door-to-door and died essentially penniless.

    I agree that anything we do must be done with integrity — otherwise we will not experience long-term rewards — in this life or the next. Thanks for the reminder.

  8. 48days Says:

    Maria — as for the music I listen to: most of the time when I’m thinking, planning and writing I listen to “Classic FM” on iTunes radio. It’s just great classical music — fairly light and inspirational.

    Sometimes when I’m just doing routine office work I’ll switch to “Beatles-A-Rama” — all Beatles music.

    In my car with the top down, screaming down the road, I listen to U2 and Alicia Keys.

    And then I sing with The Nashville Choir. This Thursday morning we’re singing backup with Michael W. Smith at the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast here in Nashville. Most of our singing is church music. Last Sunday night we did a community hymn sing at the beautiful new symphony hall here in Nashville with Bill Gaither, Melinda Dolittle and Amy Grant.

    I believe music releases a creativity that stays blocked otherwise.

  9. domainsbanker Says:

    An interesting perspective – how about combining the gold with the picks and shovels. I was interested firstly with the word GOLD as it has skyrocketed in value (I doubt though that the picks or shovels have gone up in price at all. More likely they have gone down in price.).

    Then I was interested to see where the train went with people on computers and doing business on the internet – as the internet really is a pot of GOLD. And Domains Investing is the ultimate straight to the vein way to make money on the internet – by selling the internet picks, shovels and pots of Gold.
    Just look at Domain Names! You can buy TLDs (Top Level Domains) for under $10 – and then resell for $50, $600, $3,000, $30,000, $160,000, $1million, $3million, $10million.
    These are the prices names have been reselling for over the past couple of years. Last year CreditCard.com ws resold twice – first for $1million and then resold again for $3million (A nice quick profit). This year sale of Fund.com completed for just under $10million. And most people have heard by now that Sex.com and Porn.com were sold for millions too.

    Bottom line though is – a Domain Name is first like a Pick and Shovel: You can make money with it daily using it as part of your business, generating revenue – either for the products you sell or just using it as an advertising device to promote other peoples products.
    But the real Gold in Domain Names is being able to resell them for margins exclipsing what gold and forex have done in the last 2 years. The average resale value of Domain Names now is $600. So the potential ROI (return on Investment) is around 6000%. Now if that is not enough try calculating the ROI for Domains selling for hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars.

    Maybe having realised that you need a chair to sit in – or likely a bed to have a lay down. Bt dont sleep for too long. Now it is the time to get in to the Domains business. You can get your own pick and shovel, sell picks and shovels to others, and also mine pots of gold. Why wait?

  10. olanrewaju adeoye Says:

    the highly inspiring.thanks so much for opening the eyes of this generation.More grace to your elbow.thanks.

  11. Alex Lamorie (la-more-a) Says:

    Do you have a map showing the california gold rush? if yes, please give it to me.

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  14. Annie Says:

    Mr. Dan Miller, I have found your writings so inspirational – so practical and easy to identify with. I will be back. I believe God is using you to show His children “a way out of this crisis”
    Thank you for being so generous with tithing your ideas. May God bless you and multiply a hundredfold blessings to you and family
    Annie Smith, Kingston, Jamaica W.I.

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