I Have So Many Interests – How Do I Monetize Them?

This is Omar E. – born in Rome from Egyptian muslim father and Italian catholic mum.

I just recently discovered your material and I quickly became addicted to it. I would like to ask you something – what’ s your views on destiny? And more in detail – are some people destined to be failures?

I am 36 years old and I have always been a passionate learner. Throughout my life I have been involved in various different fields – I have a Jazz drums degree, been cooking in some of the most prestigious kitchen in the world, got a Sommelier certification, I have been trading stocks for 4 years while studying various types of technical analysis (TPO, Market Profile, Point and Figure, Fundamentals and more).

While I am very proud of all the things I have learnt, I have never been able to monetize as much as I wanted. Once I felt I started to master a certain profession – I quickly began to lose interest and my attention and focus went somewhere else… But now I am struggling to provide money for my family, and this is very frustrating. It seems to me that for some folks success just come easy, while all my efforts for some reason don’t produce the wanted outcome.

I have a great wife and daughter – and I am very grateful for that – but now I am just wondering whether I should just accept that I am a great fast-learning person, but making money is not in my destiny.

Hope to hear from you, thanks for your time.


Omar E.

Dear Omar,

We are intrigued by your unusual background and are so happy you wrote to us.  Your letter spoke to our hearts , especially since your decisions greatly impact the lives of two other people, your wife and daughter. However, we did say to ourselves, “Surely we’ve discussed this before?”

Our quick search of Ask the Rabbi questions and answers over the past ten years revealed a number of people who wrote with similar questions (a sample of which we will link to at the bottom). But here’s our not-surprising conclusion: each individual faces his or her own background, challenges, rationalization of behavior and life-path. As such, we hope that each time we answer a similar question, we hope that we can add something additional to whatever we said before.

Here is one paragraph we previously wrote that you will find that in general summarizes our responses:

Leaving aside luck, acts of God and genetics, 90% of everything that happens in your life is the result of things you have done or not done.  This is particularly true in our business and financial lives.  Now is a really good time to stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right ones.

Here is the new information we would like to add.

There are many myths that abound in society. If you and your wife have been married for any length of time, you know that the words with which so many fairy-tales close, “and they lived happily ever after,” are misleading. More accurate phrases would be, “and they worked on themselves and their marriage to live happily ever after,” or, “and they faced challenges but were committed to facing them together and overcoming them, leading to living happily ever after.”

Now let’s examine your situation as you’ve described it.  (And we admire your self-awareness and honesty.  It bodes well for the changes you must make.)  Here are about 30 words from a book called East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Do they remind you of you? 

“Alf was a jack-of-all-trades, carpenter, tinsmith, blacksmith, electrician, plasterer, scissors grinder, and cobbler.  Alf could do anything, and as a result he was a financial failure although he worked all the time.”

You see, Omar, God built a world in which He wants His children to connect with one another and need one another.  We can most help other people when we become supremely competent specialists in some chosen field rather than being a little good at a lot of things.

Omar, how would you answer someone who wrote to us saying, “Successful marriage seems to elude me. Each time I’m happy with someone, I begin to lose interest and focus and my attention moves on to someone else. Am I just destined to have bad marriages?”  You get the point, we are certain.

Financial prosperity operates under the same rules. One of the enduring economic myths  is the idea of “striking it rich.” That implies a rapid change in circumstance. The odds of that happening are incredibly low. In general, financial stability and wealth result from  building  a reputation and acquiring skills by accumulating experience and connections in the specific field in which you’ve chosen to labor. For this reason, any professional  who works five to six long days a week for a number of years will usually earn considerably more per hour than another who dabbles at the same profession, choosing to work only three days a week.

You have yourself accurately identified  the very probable cause of your lack of prosperity. You seem to be confusing your love of eclectic learning with the work you do to serve others. By all means, keep growing and learning. Develop and maintain hobbies and interests.  But direct a large portion of your effort  to one field so that you build a continuous trajectory of accomplishment and service.  You will undoubtedly need to work through difficult times at work. Those challenges are no excuses to quit  and start over at entry level  doing something entirely different. .

Do we think there is such a thing as being destined to be poor? God is in ultimate control of our lives, but He most often leads us on the path in which we set out. Your self-chosen path is a tragic path to poverty and we want to see you dramatically changing   your own direction. We feel sure you can.

Here are two previous Ask the Rabbi columns you might find applicable:



We are happy to welcome you to our teachings, and we look forward to hearing from you again with happy accounts of great success and prosperity,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

P.S. Would you like to discuss your thoughts on this Ask the Rabbi with other interested readers? We always welcome and almost always respond to comments left on this page. But if you would like to enter into discussion with like-minded-people on this or other topics, head over to the Friends of Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin group on Facebook and chat away. See you there!


22 thoughts on “I Have So Many Interests – How Do I Monetize Them?”

  1. Hi Susan and Rabbi (the Hebrew)!

    Love watching you on TCT.

    Another wisdom-filled “Ask the Rabbi” response. Thank you so much.

    I, too, am easily distracted. I am curious if you have reviewed any of the writings of Cal Newport (I do not know and have no monetary interest in Dr. Newport). He has a helpful book entitled “Deep Work” that describes the benefit of distraction free working in our daily lives. By distraction free, he has no social media accounts and severely limits his access to email and web browsing. I have heard him say he spends his days deeply focused on two things: computer science (he is a professor) and improving his writing skills. He does this several hours a day and then spends time with his family, reads and listens to baseball games on the radio. He claims this level of focus is common among most successful people.

    I would also recommend “The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods” by OP A. G. Sertillanges and all of the books by Susan and Rabbi Daniel Lapin, which I own several – “Thou Shall Prosper” is destined to be an all time classic.

    I am curious what Ancient Hebrew Wisdom has to say about distractions in our life or living a more focused life.

    Thank you for all you do. Your ministry has been a blessing to my family.


  2. My life has been in the military, with a fabulous marriage and lots of delightful children. I have had the opportunity to work medical research in the military. I have been involved in peacekeeping operations which have resulted in improved living conditions and more stable governments for people in far away nations. I have saved lives with my medical skills. I have acquired a great deal of learning and a good stock of friendships along the way. I am at peace with my G_d. I lack money, but looking over my life, I’m rich indeed.

    1. Dane, you do sound rich. I certainly hope that the military benefits and pay have also allowed you to take care of your family and friends. That is a rich life indeed.

    2. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Dane–
      Being happy with one’s portion is a huge blessing and it is heartwarming to read your personal letter. Perhaps your military pension (which I hope you have) helps to insulate you from financial stress allowing you to focus on your many blessings. Not everyone has the spiritual fortitude to do this so we congratulate you. For many though, though, for reasons of various earlier mistakes, financial stress is real and it was clear to us that Omar needed not counseling to be happy with what he has, but hard and practical guidance to increase his revenue. I think he’s going to do this and can’t wait to hear of his happy results.

  3. Omar, thank you for your letter. I also appreciated reading the various responses.
    I would like to add that everything in our lives contributes to who we are and are becoming in some way. There are people that you will reach and connect with that I would never be able to. God gave you a draw to learn a variety of things, but even then there are things that you are drawn to that others are not (and vice versa). There may be something that you have an interest in or a passion for that you do not even realize could be the path God has for you to lead to your prosperity. In my own life, I love to be helpful. I work in administration/secretarial work but on the side, I would sometimes animal sit for friends. My desire to be helpful, a passion for caring for animals, and business skills such as attention to detail, has me now caring for a greater number of animal clients. So much so that I make almost as much as I do at my secretarial job. The point I want to make, is that there may be a special job that God has in mind for you that you have not even conceived of yet. You love to learn, are these things you could teach and become a tutor in? Could you be a consultant of some kind? Perhaps God is wanting to lead you somewhere you never thought possible. Continue to seek Him and listen and look for the ways He may be leading you. I will be praying for you & your family!

    1. Thank you, Jessica, for answering Omar in this way. I think also there is something of a consultant /teacher in him. If he can find common threads running through his interest, he will be able to bring it all together and sell it to a ready audience just like him, willing and able to pay for it. On the other hand, he may focus -as Rabbi says on just the one area, teach or consulting on it. The writing for money / create your own teaching course online niche is not in danger of saturation anytime soon. God bless and lead you Omar and many thanks RL for your wonderful platform to reach out and bless many.

      1. I think also there is something of a consultant /teacher in him.

        Thanks for your input Olla. And yes, I agree with you on that…

  4. “…as a result he was a financial failure although he worked all the time.”
    That made me laugh, hardly.

    I have just read this as I hadn’ t checked since I wrote this letter because I thought it was badly written and maybe plain stupid and you wouldn’ t have given it much attention.

    I am really grateful for your answer.

    And thanks to all those who commented: it means a lot to me.

    Now I need some time to process this.


    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Good job Omar,

      Now I really know that you are going to go airborne! I have now read three letters from you. I have no doubts. Onwards and upwards

  5. Dear Unable To Monetize: someone forgot to educate you about supply and demand. Yes, you are told to follow the beat of your own drum, to do what you love to do, which apparently was bang drums, tend to wine and make tasty cuisine. The problem is there are many others who can do these tasks. If you wanted to be a bricklayer you would have the same problem of monetizing your love for brick laying since it doesn’t take much skill to do that. But even vocations and avocations that require skill are over supplied. If there are too many engineers, as educated as one has to be to earn an engineering degree, you will have difficulty monetizing that engineering diploma if too many others decide to pursue the same course in life. Whereas, had you chosen to become a plumber, the Wall Street Journal says you would earn more than most college graduates. If you wanted to become an auto mechanic, there are 76, 000 openings and only 36,000 graduate from auto tech school each year. So starting salaries are ~$61,000 and rise above $100,000 in a short time. One must research their field of endeavor. Schools are teaching students aimlessly, without any knowledge of job openings. Music schools graduate over a thousand singers in opera, but there are only 300 opera jobs, all of them already filled. Better to aim before you pull your bowstring. The stark reality today is that the only class that is making any money are the financial classes. They receive near-free money from the federal reserve. If you want to make money, go into banking, lending, and financial instruments (investing). The top 10% of earners make ~90% of the money. Maybe you’ve had your head in the sand, probably out of ignorance and lack of direction. Yes, if you can play an instrument good enough to put on a concert, or assemble dishes of food that many will part with their money to hear your music or taste your food, then you will fare better than others. But the simple reality is, in today’s modern world, you have to be in the world of finance to earn good money. Maybe late, but you are now wiser for reading this. See what you can do to pick up the pieces and forge ahead. I don’t think many rabbi’s can advise you on this topic since making money was not their objective in life.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Bill-
      There are so many breathtaking mistakes, errors, inaccuracies, and bloopers in your piece that reading it left me quite impressed at the necessary skill. Unless I am really trying, I can at best come up with one gaffe in every nine or ten pieces. So I thank you for writing. Where to begin? I must confess to being sorely tempted to start with the most egregious error of all–your final sentence. After all, don’t you think rabbis like eating? Or driving a nice car? Or paying their mortgage on a nice home? What world do you live in? But I think that in the limited time I have available for this task, it’s more important that for the benefit of other readers, I correct the most damaging and destructive myth you unintentionally propagate. How much money you earn does not depend only upon the field you enter. I know, and so do you if you seek, many very wealthy and successful people who began their professional careers at plumbers, framers, and other trades. I also know people who started off in finance, law, and medicine who are having trouble paying their bills. In your worldview, one would have trouble explaining why some doctors make a lot of money while others barely scrape by. (And it has nothing to do with what medical school they attended or how high in their class they graduated.) I don’t believe that Omar (or for that matter, I and most of our readers) have aspirations in the $billions. That’s not what we’re focused on. (And you’re right, my books do not provide guidance to that atmospheric height of financial fulfillment.–That does require a different set of skills) I think most of us here anticipate success in the upper six figures, and for that, a basic skill at doing something that people need is basic. The key differentiators are spiritual now. A doctor’s bedside manner and ability to communicate optimism. A lawyer’s ability to banish his client’s fears. A plumber’s ability to assure the homeowner that all will be well. And yes, even a financial specialist’s ability to have and radiate integrity. Above all, for everyone, the ability to have many people who know you, like you and trust you. And again we’re in the spiritual arena–my specialty. Oh well…
      Thank you for writing Bill. I did enjoy reading your letter.

  6. I can relate to Omar. The world is a complex place and it is very difficult at times to figure out what a person would like to do and what will actually support a family. I was in a career that I knew I was not suited for and always wished to be self employed. I half heartedly tried a few home businesses but never found what I really wanted to do. I do know from watching Christian tv shows that I have seen several hundred families tell their stories of hardship but when they began praying to God for wisdom and Tithing 10% their situations changed for the better. Place God first and great things will happen! I wish Omar and his family much success!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Matthew–
      Please, please don’t believe that prayer and tithing is all that is needed! It is undoubtedly a necessary element but insufficient on its own. Please please read my book Thou Shall Prosper. (See more about it in our store section on this website)
      It’s really important to understand God’s plan for human economic interaction and I assure you that it is more complex (a word you correctly used in your second sentence) that saying, “Please God give me a Ferrari–and by the way, Lord, I do tithe in case You didn’t notice” No, by all means pray and tithe, but also know the right things to do and the wrong things to avoid.
      If all it took was prayer and tithing, my book could have been very short indeed.

  7. this was indeed insightful-fascinated to hear you have readers like Omar, and I would like to pass along that my husband very much like you Omar and a high achiever who has mastered many things including extreme skiing, scuba diving, licensed small plane pilot, Construction trades-both residential, commercial, as well as the licenses and training for the sub trades. He is reading a book on Chemistry right now for “fun” and did I mention he is an accomplished cook? a real Seattle foodie! What is significant now is that he is a manager for a large christian construction project and I am thinking Omar that once you apply your multi talents to some “cause”, something really “great” that lives on after you die, then you will find the discipline to stick to the one occupation. Blessings on you.

    1. Debra, I hope that Omar enjoys reading about your husband’s example and sees that sticking to a path doesn’t mean he must narrow his horizons.

      1. Thanks for the blessings Debra.

        Susan, thanks for all this. I am afraid I may abuse of your time and generosity but I feel the urge to ask you: according to which principles\ parameters should I choose the path to follow?
        Or there’ s no need to philosophize, and I randomly choose one of the options, and stick with it?

        What happened during my life – is that at a certain point I started to experience the “impostor syndrome”.
        A voice that whispers ” You can’ t do this. This is not you. You are the son of a low-class undereducated couple. Just please stop pretending – and go cleaning plates or grow carrots”.

        I had this thoughts even when I was 16 studying drums at a Jazz Academy.

        So many bugs in my code. Thanks God debugging is fun!

        1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

          Dear Omar–
          I know you addressed Susan, and she might also respond but right now it is important to get this information to you. You ask how should you decide which service avenue or professional pathway should you follow. Fortunately this is not complex. There is only one simple parameter you need apply. Ready? Here it is: Monetary return. That’s right. Which ever of your skill and experience areas is most in economic demand. See how simple this is? People will sometimes mislead you with advice based on asking you, “Well, Omar, which do you most enjoy doing?” Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! Start doing whichever one pays best, do it and do it and do it. Just do it. And I promise you, Omar, in six months of making money doing it you’ll wake up one morning and tell your wife, “You know, honey, I really enjoy my work!”
          Be sure to keep us informed. (if you want to write to us not for publication, just use the ‘contact us’ feature on this website.

        2. Omar, you are a father. That means that you need to stand up and be confident in yourself even if you feel like you’re faking it. Take the good from your past and reject the negative. Keep in mind the foundation that you want to give your child. Your wife and daughter need you to be strong and directed. Let that push you forward.

  8. I have a tailor & sewing shop for over 20 years. My dad had told me, if I was unsure of what o charge, tell them you are really blessed that they chose your services. Since every job is unique, I want to be fair and need you to help me charge what it is worth to you”
    Most times people will end up giving you more than you were thinking of charging.
    And yes, some people cheap out on it too.
    My other issue was not giving family, friends, neighbors, Church family discounts.
    My pastor here asked me to sew some drapes for the new sanctuary. So there was something blocking the HUGE doorway. He said it was drafty in winter & he would look thinking someone was coming in…so it really was a distraction. AND that I was going to CHARGE him regular price, no discounts!
    IF I didn’t believe in my sewing? Why should anyone else pay for it?
    I did up the drapes from a large yardage someone had given me from their theater curtains.
    They were dark burgundy & came out wonderful.
    When I brought them in, you could tell they liked them. He told me to figure out the color , since I was the seamstress.
    He asked me louder than usual, “Linda, How much are the drapes?”
    I choked.
    He said, “Young lady, if you wont give me a fair price, then I can’t bless you as part of Gods family & you may be stalling someone else’s blessing!”
    That also has become the best spot for people to take photos since it is such a tall & wide solid area.
    When our pastor was making a parental or pastoral point, he looks well over his 6’3″ frame.
    He paid the fair market value and gave me a tip !
    Every time I have to price out a job, I remember his talk.
    AND I also have a digital clock in my work room that goes on when I turn on the lights.
    It blinks “0” and I start peoples mending & when I get up whether it’s finished or not, I scribble the time in minutes on the chalk board. If it’s 10 minutes or 3 hrs, it all really adds up fast and accurate.
    Then I multiply the time by the hourly rate. If its just clothing I charge $15. Cushions, upholstery or anything on my leather machine is $60.
    Plus materials, most time people bring their own , so if you mark it “COM” for customers own material or customers own measurements. That way if there is an error, its usually on their end .
    Those drapes are still up & looking good after17 years!

    TYSM for your show and taking the time to answer everyone’s questions
    I love you & Susan so much!

    1. Linda, what a wise pastor you have! Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story and other good advice. We’re delighted that you watch/listen.

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