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January 3, 2013

Helpfulness Advantage

Working hard is dumb. Working smart is a half-baked advice. We must work to our natural strengths, especially in this globalized, commoditized, very flat world. Michael Porter talks clusters. Seth Godin talks niches. Ries and Trout talks positioning.

How do you uncover your strengths that have paying customers?

I suggest helpfulness.

When I was young, I was very very dumb, short-sighted and narrow-focused. I charged everyone for my lessons, including my close friends, except my brothers and sisters.

However, even in those days, I helped free for short- term or one-off services. Any stranger could come into our Department and walk through my doors and  ask for my help. I had never turned them away.

When you can help someone for free:
  1.  You prove to yourself that you are expert in this area.
  2. You prove to the world that you can get customers for such services.
  3. You increase your odds that you tie your wagon to young Carnegie, rising Sim Wong Hoo, or still poor Zuckerburg.
Choose:
  1. Helping already rich people gets you good money. 
  2. Helping soon-to-be rich people gets you great money.
Some programmers  may not have learned this lesson. Maybe they prefer working hard in poverty far too long.

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