Does it take money to make money?
“No,” said T.K. Coleman, the director of entrepreneurial education at the Foundation for Economic Education.
“It doesn't take money to make money,” he said. “It takes value creation to make money.”
Coleman, also co-founder & education director at Praxis, is a prolific writer and speaker with a singular mission: to awaken people to their own creative power. He joined Freedom Media Network Founder for a wide-ranging discussion, which you can watch here.
"Money is a reward for creating value, right?”
Coleman referenced the book, “Spiritual Economics,” by bestselling author and minister, Eric Butterworth.
“He (Butterworth) talks about this idea how stuff is satisfying but it's secondary, it's not the starting point. That wealth is a state of mind,” explained Coleman. “Now, hang with me because I'm sure as soon as I said, ‘wealth is a state of mind,’ I triggered the entire world of people that are deathly afraid of anything that sounds like an Instagram inspirational picture or something along those lines... but hang with me for a second, because this is not just grounded in fluffy, wishful thinking. This is grounded in sound economics, okay?”
Coleman pointed out that money is “a symbolic representation of creative power.”
“So when we talk about this thing called wealth, we can use many different tokens or symbols to represent what value really is but money and value are different things. Money is a reward for creating value, right?” he said. “It takes value creation to make money because you can have money, but if you don't have any projects to invest in or any way to use that money that will solve problems for people, then you're not going to make money. That's why people who win the lottery on average, they lose their money.”
He said that having money isn’t the same as “increasing the amount of money,” pointing to people who have gone from poverty to millionaires “because they figured out a way to create value.”
“So, what do you need to make money?” Coleman asked. “What you need is some kind of ability to make people feel like their experience is better off. That can be the ability to make them laugh, that could be the ability to give them perspective during hard times, that can be the ability to make them forget about their problems, it can be a host of things.”
He said the notion that “wealth is a mindset” is empowering, especially to those who currently don’t have money.
“The way that you get from that position to a position of wealth is by saying, ‘Okay, I still have something to offer. I still have something that I can do for people. If I look within, into the realm of my ideas, my insights and my inclinations, I can take that and I can translate that into some kind of service that can make another person say, wow, I am pleased. Wow, you just enhanced the quality of my life,’” he said. “And that's how you get the money.”
Coleman mentioned the book, “Metaphors We Live By” by linguist George Lakoff. In that book, Lakoff describes the “paradox of symbols.”
“Whenever you use a symbol, it allows you to understand aspects of a thing in a more in depth way but it also does that at the expense of pushing back other critical aspects of the thing,” explained Coleman. “ So I'm going to use a religious metaphor and then I'll bring it back to money. So in the Old Testament of the Bible, you have this problem that occurs where people are trying to relate to this distant, ethereal God and so, what do they do? They build icons, they build grave in images because it brings God nearer. It makes God more understandable and there's value in that. You certainly want to make God feel nearer to you. But the problem is you begin to lose imagination and you equate the symbol with the reality itself.”
Coleman said the same thing has happened with money.
“I mentioned earlier that money is a symbolic representation of creative value. It's really great that we have things like the dollar and the pound and the yen. This is a major chapter in our economic evolution,” he said. “The downside, however, is that our imagination has become reduced to the symbol itself. We mistake the symbol for the reality that the symbol represents and we say, ‘If I don't have any dollars, if I don't have any yen, then I don't have the realities represented by those symbols. I don't have value, I don't have anything to offer.’”
He added, “And so, in some ways, money has killed our imagination.”
Coleman said that before we had money, humans were forced to look for value to exchange for value.
“In order to get something, you couldn't rely on dollars, you looked around at your condition and you said, "What do I have? We were forced to think about our needs in terms of how can I create value for someone else? How can I make a difference in another person's life?”
“And having these dollars that we can rely on has made us a little bit lazy and sometimes when those dollars are taken away, it's a blessing in disguise. It's difficult, but it can be an invitation to get back to the roots of what exchange is all about.”