If you want to make money, you need to FORGET about the bottom-line. Seriously.

Here is how you make money in this world:

You create something of value to people. Once value is recognized, money is exchanged. That’s it.

This is my problem with the endless get-rich-quick schemes of the world: they make you focus your eyes on the money first. 

Think Rich. Millionaire’s club. Financial freedom. ALL focused on the cash. Or lack of it.

So HOW exactly do you make it?

I remember being entranced by the “think rich pinoy” movement. It basically tells you to get passive income through real estate rentals.

I convinced my family to devote a large amount to buying 2 condo units, that we could rent out at a profit. Worked for the first year, then the tenants left. Then Anne Curtis went out selling condo units in a new nearby SM condo. Moreover, it turned out this wasn’t “passive” at all. We needed to maintain the unit. We needed to aggressively market the unit. We needed to monitor tenants. Oh, and one more thing – I am not really into real estate. I have ZERO passion for it. So what now?

So, coupled with my dwindling lack of passion for my corporate day job, I had ANOTHER job I had no passion for. The units are available as we speak. (call me if you are interested, seriously – they’re near SM North Edsa, very strategic)

Why was I suckered into this? Because the lure of money is strong. My focus was directed on making money above all else.

You see a lot of “entrepreneurial” gimmicks advertise this way. People showing off their Lamborghini’s (cringe), or people talking about how they made their first million in a month selling to their downlines and just passively reaping in the rewards.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The focus should be on creating value. When value is created, the money will come after.

When it boils down to it, what is value? Value is simply helping people. All the companies in the world are about helping people. The moment they focus on making money rather than helping people, value is lessened and ultimately the company suffers (eg. Enron).

Sure, financial literacy is very important, but if the focus becomes merely stockpiling assets for a profit as opposed to focusing on how the assets will actually help people – then it’s easy to miss the point.

And what is it with this whole  “passive” bit? This just irks the hell out of me. What is the value being communicated here? That work is something to be avoided? That the trick to life is to find ways to reap the fruits without working?  Isn’t there something wrong here?

One thing I’ve learned: work is an integral part of who we are. Look at the most successful people on earth. They love what they do. Look at them carefully – it’s not about the money. It’s love of the game. 

You have to love the game, people. Life is too short. Take it from Steve Jobs

One of the more entertaining entrepreneur books I read last year was “Anything You Want,” by Derek Sivers. In the book, Sivers talks about how he founded CD Baby. He talks about how he just wanted to help struggling musicians solve a problem. He shunned the big contracts with big record labels. Said no to them. He just kept at helping artists while keeping his vision pure. How does this story end? He ends up selling his firm for 22 million dollars, and then giving most of it to charity.

So forget about the money momentarily first. Focus on helping people. Focus on solving a particular problem. Relentlessly. If you do that, believe me, the money will come. Think about all the great startups that were developed over the course of the last few years. Now think about the problems they solved for you.

I remember being so anti-Apple early on, listing down the things Macs couldn’t do. Then my friend Elmer convinced me to purchase an I-pad. Changed my life. I never went to National Bookstore again, as I was introduced to the world of e-books. And Amazon’s Kindle on I-pad. I could pre-order a book and get it the very day it got released. Then I also noticed I wasn’t watching a lot of TV anymore, but instead found myself consuming videos on the tablet in bed. No more awkward surfing-with-the-laptop-on-my-chest while in bed as well. Now I’m a fanboy, and they’ve got me for life. Why? Tremendous value.

The startups I’m involved with try to focus on helping out as well: STORM focuses on helping companies solve the problem of rewarding employees better. Newly formed Streamengine seeks to help solve the problem of explaining processes better (through video instead of text). Newly formed Cloudexterity will help startups solve the problem of finding a trustworthy source to develop apps.

Its simple really. You want to make money? Establish a business model which helps people. Solve problems. Want to make the ride sustainable and meaningful?  Choose to work on something you are passionate about.

How will your startup help people? What problem out there will you solve? Focus on these relentlessly and THEN the money will come.

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Dare to be Different…like Tita Moning

I still remember my first visit to LaCocina de Tita Moning when my wife took me there around five years ago.

Vividly.

Why?

It was such an experience.

A few days before our planned dinner, Pauline asked me what I wanted to order, which I found a little weird.

Uhm…so can’t we just order from the menu when we’re there, just like every other restaurant?

Apparently not. This restaurant does not accept walk-ins. You have to call them a full 24 hours before your planned meal to preorder your food. Oh, and there’s not much to choose from. There are only 12 set menus, so you just choose once. That’s it.

These items alone made them different from 99.9 percent of the food places I knew, and even before I set foot in their premises, it was already making quite the impression on me.

Finally, we got to the place. It was near Malacanang.

The place itself did not look anything like a restaurant. It was an ancestral home and I felt like I was in another era. With good service, too. From the moment we entered the gate, someone was serving us, helping us park our car, and leading us to an al fresco foyer, where we had tea and some appetizer.

The server then asked us if we were ready to eat, or if we wanted to explore the house first.

Explore the house?! Pancake House has never asked me if I wanted to explore their house before. This was new. And therefore this was exciting.

Apparently, the house was also a museum. We proceeded to explore several rooms ogling different vintage furniture and radio equipment.

Finally, it was time to eat and we were brought to a grand dining area, where the other guests were.

We partook of our set meals in grand style. When we were having dessert, we were handed a guest book by the waiter who asked us to put a dedication. Then, our waiter called the cook and some of the other members of their staff, who then posed with us while our waiter took our picture. Not the sort of thing you see in Jollibee. The waiter then explained that this picture would be uploaded to their website the day after. (you’ve got some restos doing this now, but 5 years ago, this was unprecedented)

It was an amazing and a totally unique experience that someone designed. An experience someone took great care to execute and deliver.

To rise above the noise of today’s information-saturated world, you have to be memorable, magical, unique.

How can your startup be like Tita Moning?

Postscript: Oh, and food was just superb! Best bread pudding ever!

Postscript 2: No, they aren’t paying me to do this. Maybe someone can send pudding…