Posts Tagged ‘free’

When Helping Hurts

January 19, 2010

Drive into any national park and you’ll see the signs – “Don’t feed the bears.” Scientists tell us that bears will quickly become dependent on human food, and while they are not particularly fond of humans they like the arrangement of free food.  And once dependent on that food they will attack the same providers if the supply disappears.

Congress is now considering extending unemployment benefits for the fifth time since this recession began.  In normal economic times workers could receive up to 26 weeks of benefits with the possibility of a 13-week extension.  With the added benefits added by President George W. Bush and now Barack Obama, jobless benefits can run as long as 99 weeks – nearly two years.

And here’s the challenging news – studies by University of Chicago economist Bruce Meyer and Harvard’s Lawrence Katz show that people are most likely to find a job just as their unemployment runs out – whether that’s 2 weeks, 26 weeks or 99 weeks.  The benefits – even if meager, appear to fuel the belief that this is a poor labor market, the economy is in the tank and no one is hiring.  And yet when the benefits are exhausted, a job magically appears.

Not having a job is not just a lack of money.  Not having a job very quickly becomes a psychological issue, unleashing humiliation, shame, vulnerability, hopelessness and entrapment.  Money that is not “earned” may exacerbate rather than alleviate these emotions.  The resulting low self-esteem cripples the boldness, confidence and enthusiasm required to come across as a desirable job candidate.

We’ve seen the crippling effects of welfare – becoming not a crisis relief but a way of life from one generation to the next.  We now have healthy, intelligent and capable young people who no longer anticipate hard work, struggle and the ultimate rewards of personal achievement but simply capitulate to the handouts of the government for housing and food.  And thus they drift into the ravages of perpetual low self-esteem, shame and the violence that accompany relationships unaccompanied by mutual respect.

Here’s another observation:  Yes, we are seeing people thrust into the ranks of the unemployed through no fault of their own.  People who are competent, reliable, faithful and talented are losing their jobs.  Yet for many of those, becoming “unemployed” simply served as a wake-up call for dormant dreams.  Check out and you’ll read the stories of hundreds of “accidental entrepreneurs.”  Others report they have found jobs that, for the first time, are allowing them to experience meaningful, purposeful and profitable work.

No parent, boss, pastor, missionary or politician wants to appear heartless.  But we must recognize that bears hunt effectively when they are not “given” food, teenagers get creative when the allowance stops, people move out of the destructive cycle of poverty when the handouts cease, and our best and most creative talents are often released under the gentle pressure of necessity.

”If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” ~Frank A. Clark

Will you pay for a “free” book?

July 20, 2009

In a controversial new book — FREE, Chris Anderson (editor Wired Magazine) says that natural forces are pushing us toward making all intellectual content free to the consumer.  Wow – what does that mean for newspapers, magazines, websites, authors and musicians.  He says that musicians better get used to having people download their songs for free – yes, they will continue to make money, but it will be from live events and merchandise – not the songs themselves.  For authors it will be the same thing – give away the content and make money with events and merchandise. 

Now what would you expect the price to be on his book – Free?  Well, yes it is free – kinda. 


I’ve created a link where you can find the entire book – absolutely free.  Just open and read.  And if you are currently marketing intellectual content in any way, you need to read this book.  Here’s your link:  Free book

If you prefer the audio, here’s a link for the free audio:   Free audio  At least listen to the sample clip under the book graphic.  It will give you a great overview of the book’s contents. 

But here’s the irony.  While the book is titled Free and is readily available in either print or audio format, it is also available from Amazon as a traditional hardcover book.  Free on Amazon It sells for a pricey $26.99 and is currently at #191, which means thousands of them are selling. 

Does it surprise you that a book can be “free” and still be selling briskly at $26.99.  Welcome to the new world of marketing, where everything is changing and some things seem counterintuitive.  If you are a musician, author, journalist, pastor or teacher, you need to recognize the changing world of “selling.”  There is a new term that captures where business is going – “conversational marketing.” 

There’s even a website called   How are you prepared to generate income if what you are providing is expected for free?