Saturday, October 01, 2005

A Better Way

I have been skimming through Wallace Wattle's The Science of Getting Rich. Wattle's work, first published in 1910, has some interesting business advice that 21st century entrepreneurs, and especially 21st century social entrepreneurs, would do well to heed.

Wattle counsels:

WHEN I say that you do not have to drive sharp bargains, I do not mean that you do not have to drive any bargains at all, or that you are above the necessity for having any dealings with your fellow men. I mean that you will not need to deal with them unfairly; you do not have to get something for nothing, but can give to every man more than you take from him.

You cannot give every man more in cash market value than you take from him, but you can give him more in use value than the cash value of the thing you take from him. The paper, ink, and other material in this book may not be worth the money you pay for it; but if the ideas suggested by it bring you thousands of dollars, you have not been wronged by those who sold it to you; they have given you a great use value for a small cash value.

Let us suppose that I own a picture by one of the great artists, which, in any civilized community, is worth thousands of dollars. I take it to Baffin Bay, and by "salesmanship" induce an Eskimo to give a bundle of furs worth $ 500 for it. I have really wronged him, for he has no use for the picture; it has no use value to him; it will not add to his life.

But suppose I give him a gun worth $50 for his furs; then he has made a good bargain. He has use for the gun; it will get him many more furs and much food; it will add to his life in every way; it will make him rich.

When you rise from the competitive to the creative plane, you can scan your business transactions very strictly, and if you are selling any man anything which does not add more to his life than the thing he gives you in exchange, you can afford to stop it. You do not have to beat anybody in business. And if you are in a business which does beat people, get out of it at once. Give every man more in use value than you take from him in cash value; then you are adding to the life of the world by every business transaction.

Wattle's book is easily found and freely available at a number of different sites. Rebecca Fine's www.scienceofgettingrich.net offers an especially attractive free download edition. She, also, offers a free ezine, The Certain Way, that explores contemporary applications of Wattle's thought.
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