What’s My Price?

May 7th, 2013 Posted by Susan's Musings 3 comments

There are parts of my job that I avoid. They are the tasks that make me feel a passionate longing to run and get the mail or find some other reason to bolt from my chair. These tasks set me squirming and gratefully answering a telemarketer’s phone call.

Every job has these elements. A friend of mine is a pilot and after every flight, even if she is yearning to get home, she needs to fill in reams of paperwork. I doubt if while learning to fly, she said to herself, “Oh, boy! I can’t wait to see the post-flight documents.” Yet, it is part of the job. These annoyances are unavoidable. The image we conjured up in grade school of doing only what we want once we were grown up is a mirage. As a mother, I loved hugs and reading stories. Cleaning up from the effects of stomach flu was something I could have easily skipped. As a partner in our publishing company, many of the things I do are exciting and invigorating. What I need to work on today – calculating how much we can afford to discount our library pack – isn’t one of those things. I tend to get different answers when I double-check my mathematical computations (even when using a calculator), which is rather frustrating.  I also agonize trying to keep the price as low as possible while at the same time recognizing that our production, overhead and other costs are constantly increasing. 

One of the issues I have heard my husband discuss when he addresses audiences is how important it is to be comfortable naming your price for a good or service. Unless you are from the government, you are giving someone an opportunity to buy what you offer, not forcing them to do so. While this seems obvious, women in particular often have difficulty with the concept. I remember a question a new storeowner posed to me at a financial event for which my husband was speaking. As a cancer survivor, she was sensitive to the needs of women wanting to buy a bathing suit and undergarments after a mastectomy. She opened a shop designed to make the shopping experience supportive and pleasant. Hours of her time went into planning little details such as having nutritious refreshments in one corner and attractive changing rooms. She invested her savings in the project as well as borrowing money from family. Like most small business owners, she worked more than an eight-hour day, and needing to pay bills and salaries before depositing her own paycheck, there were weeks and months that she took home nothing. Imagine her horror when one customer attacked her for selling her wares rather than offering them at no cost.

Instead of outwardly responding politely while internally dismissing the woman’s comments, this storeowner was troubled by them. She felt the need to explain to me that she couldn’t afford to run her shop as a charity.  She was disproportionally pleased when I validated that the business was a practical expression of her sensitive and kind nature.  While I was disturbed by her insecurity, I understood it. Like me, she for years had been an unsalaried giver as a wife, mother and homemaker. While her family and society both benefitted from her actions, (including financially), she didn’t place a dollar value on her contribution. (If you don’t understand how much money and unpleasantness she saved her family and the average taxpayer by nurturing a stable marriage and home, please explore further. And yes, I know that women who work can also have stable marriages and homes – that’s a separate topic.) Once you enter the marketplace, it can be difficult to reorient and recognize that you are still a giver, just in another form. 

I hope my acquaintance is earning substantial money while contributing to society with her unique talents and perspective. And while I need to bone up on my skills vis-à-vis calculating percentages, I believe that the resources my husband and I provide through our publishing company offer great value to those who choose to purchase them. Thinking anything else suggests that both the sentiments of those who believe in receiving money rather than earning it and the disparagement of homemaking have made inroads into my psyche.

P.S. As I was posting this the doorbell rang, heralding the arrival of our newest resource – the 2nd volume of our Ancient Jewish Wisdom DVD series – four more favorite episodes from the television show my husband and I co-host. So, it is time for me to proudly urge you to check it out and if you feel, as I do, that it is will add value to your life, purchase it. Move quickly and you can get the Library Pack or Library Pack PLUS, including the new DVD, before I figure out by how much to raise the price.

3 comments

KM says:

I Loved your Musing! I have the same issue! My husband is really good at being able to charge for his services to his customers; and they love him! I on the other hand do not feel like I should charge. Or rather I would like to charge and get paid, but am constantly bombarded with questions of my worth. “Is that too high of a price, maybe they will not like my work, ect…” My husband reminds me that if they did not want my service, they would not ask and that it is OK to charge.
P.S. We have your entire library pack and it is/was well worth it! Thank you for such wonderful wisdom! We are still eagerly awaiting Holy Hebrew!!! God Bless you Both!

James says:

Yes, Ms. Susan, there are a great many tasks unpleasant, unsavory or ‘dull’ in which the majority do not wish to get involved. This is why illegal immigrants arrive and fill so essential a niche. During much of my own working life I became essentially the bureaucratic equivalent of a ‘steeplejack,’ meaning someone willing to perform disagreeable, frightening or dangerous tasks most others would give their right arms to avoid. And indeed I was good at my trade, using techniques my mother the record keeper taught me: patience (when I had none), attention to details (which I found tedious and beneath me), with a plodding determination to succeed despite all odds (which I acquired over time).
During this time I endured no end of derision, being labeled an ‘overpaid file clerk’ for my unflinching accountability, a ‘key troll’ for my hard-jawed insistence on stringent document control. But my initiatives saved my company.
Thanks to you and to the Rabbi for rearranging our perceptions, that money is a highly spiritual concept, provided one observes the directives that point out the honest and proper way to earn money, a demonstrable indication that one is serving God’s people. Let us hope and pray that the Redistributionites do not become further empowered to build mega-government and destroy the grass roots of commerce and trade.

Carol B says:

Dearest Susan,
I cannot agree more with you about the value of a person’s endeavors. I try to tell young women often especially stay-at-home moms that they are doing the most important work they will ever do. I too was one and my social security amount reflects the lack of working outside the home during those years. However, my trust remains in the one who neither slumbers nor sleeps to take care of me. At 60, I am in the process of getting a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and one in Geropsychology. So, life is filled with many opportunities to serve in different ways all through life; we just have to be open to them. I can definitely relate to your comments about math skills; they do not come easy for me either and I always have someone check me.
May you have peace and contentment throughout Shavuot!
Carol

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