You are Not for Sale

Do you sometimes feel that everything is for sale?

That if something doesn’t have a market value (including being able to be turned into a pithy blog post, Instagram photo or even a great story to tell your friends) or if it doesn’t “fit” your personal brand, then it has no point. And if has no point, then why connect with that friend, scribble that poem, love that elderly person?

Or perhaps more chilling, why follow the call, heed the inklings, nurture the whiff of a possible maybe idea?

I’m being dramatic but haven’t you sniffed this trend, too? That everything has to have a pay off of some kind?

I recorded a video trying to give voice to my thoughts – it’s raw, my lipstick doesn’t quite make it all the way around my mouth, and it feels like a very important topic on which I would so love your comments. What do you notice?

Thanks for watching and commenting.

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MarianneElliott - June 26, 2013

I feel this whenever I come to the US – that everything has to have a market value – and not so much in New Zealand.

Last night on a call with the Off the Mat, Into the World Australia team they said that yoga studio owners were asking them ‘How do we sell this? How do we make money from it?’ They asked me how I responded to that in NZ. I couldn’t help much because I didn’t get that question in New Zealand.

I think this, what you are exploring here (and that god-awful word ‘monetization’ which seems to be emblematic of this), is what I struggle with most whenever I come to this wonderful country.

I’m not for sale, and I’m not going to decide whether to do something or not based on it’s market value.

    jenlouden - June 26, 2013

    it is a very U.S. centered thing… love Charles Einstein’s idea of a universal salary for all that would cover our very basic needs and from there, we could create what we most care about.

      Rosemarie Gant - June 27, 2013

      In a rather backward way of not wanting to be left out, I think it is a UK thing too. I say backward because I don’t think it is a good thing and I would much rather we were like NZ. That said, I live not too far from London and I feel that pressure for speed and gaining, and what can I do with this, how can I package it… And yet half an hour down the road I am into Suffolk or Norfolk – beautiful counties that immediately make me feel more relaxed and all that pressure instantly drops away. Maybe I should just move house…

Katherine Carey - June 26, 2013

Amen Sister AMEN!!!

Oh, I SO get what you are saying. For me it feels like I am not allowing myself the time slot for such things. Like I HAVE to work, work, work because I feel like it’s the only way to survive…which is Bull S_ _ _!!! After all, I’ve made it this long.

So YES! To offering myself the gift of Painting for Painting’s Sake, Creating Collages for My Dreams, Writing because My Precious Heart wants to Speak, and doing just what I did this week (for the first time in a long, long time)…Offering Myself Two Days OFF in a row!!!

Bless You! Bless Me! Bless Us ALL!

    jenlouden - June 26, 2013

    i can feel the recharging happening! Brava!

Gail - June 26, 2013

Hi Jen,

You raise such important questions here – and no, I don’t
believe anyone has the “answers.”

A few years back, I listenened to the Rev. Ed Bacon’s
response to the question: “What do you consider the biggest evil in the world
today?” (and if you’re not particularly religious, you might replace the word “evil”
with “issue” or whatever works). Without missing a beat, he said: “Dehumanization.”

This word comes to mind every time I see a clash on a Comments
board somewhere – you can practically see the fangs and teeth and fur flying.

This word, dehumanization, has become my touchstone as I
navigate through the ideas of what’s authentic, what will yield ROI, etc. When
I’m struggling with a decision, such as how to how to manage a difficult person
or situation, I use the dehumanization-test: is my response dehumanizing in any
way? It seems so easy to do – unwittingly – via technology, or just in our
everyday rush-around.

As someone who has developed e-learning for the past 15
years and been an online teacher for the past 5, the role and functions that
technology brings to this conversation is critical – I am often the only one in
the room reminding teams of programmers and project managers that we are
developing all this techno-learning stuff for HUMANS. How do we infuse heart
and sensitivity and care into online learning (and, by extension, into life)?
It’s a great question – and very much a work in progress.

    jenlouden - June 26, 2013

    Yes it is dehumanization, exactly, well said! Love that Gail. And wold love to talk e-learning someday as I help people with that via TeachNow.

      Gail - June 26, 2013

      I’ll be at Taos this year – we can talk then 🙂

joychristin - June 26, 2013

As I listen to your words, the idea of efficiency arises. Choosing where to vest energy and presence is a way of ensuring “efficient” use of resource…and tends to result in blossoms everywhere..*but* as I listen to you, the idea of being “too efficient” arises….It’s a wonderful reminder that when we vest in something that makes heart sing, but doesn’t produce a tangible something or result that literally grows our business/shares our message, it is not a ‘waste’ of energy, but a vestment in self/World/life..priceless… and often the very activity that many push to the back burner. So I will turn this inward and see where in life I might be doing this…thank you!

    jenlouden - June 26, 2013

    Yes, another thread of the idea:: what is too much efficiency? LOVE!

Chariti Gent - June 26, 2013

Hi Jennifer! I so appreciate your work. Your message here is particularly resonant with me as I am in the midst of a rebrand of my coaching business. I am continually struggling with my internal voices (e.g., “but that brand will NEVER sell” or “that’s not speaking to people’s pain enough” or “you need a better hook”) as well as those of the external world (e.g., “yes, but that’s already been done” or “that sounds too much like Sheryl Sandberg” or “that’s really not what I think you want to do…”). It’s so defeating and discouraging at times and it just plain SHUTS DOWN my creativity. And I hate that. SO–last night, I found myself at a women’s entrepreneurial support and inspirational group meeting with about 50 other women, listening to an absolutely captivating, 70’s-80’s (ish) year old woman by the name of Ruth Ann Shoerr tell her life story. In this story, she describes being the oldest of 10 children growing up on a farm in MN, living “poor but well fed” as she put it…years later, after much struggle and many, many “experiments” in making her way in the world, she found herself owning, throughout the years, five different businesses. In addition, she was the first woman Chamber of Commerce Executive in her small town in MN and, from there, went on to be elected to a high-level leadership position in County government (one of the FIRST women, by the way, to ever do this in her area). She served some crazy number of terms and retired to found 4 non-profits, several of which are still alive and well 22 years after their inception.

I tell you all of this because she’s a woman who’s often faced the questions you point to in your v-blog:

“is this idea viable?”

“Can I monetize this idea or this product?”

“What strategies should I employ to get this off the ground?”

And then, she offered some advice to us at the end of her talk (and she smilingly, sternly told us to pay SPECIAL attention to this part):

Do what you LOVE and keep doing it. And the minute you no longer love it, STOP.

So, my take-away is that, in the end, it might feel like “it’s all for sale,” but so long as you are staying true to what’s in your heart and not fixate about the money that will come from it (or not!), your life will truly be the richer.

Oh, and she also advised us that if you want to really add some fun, creative and ridiculous laughter to your day, vacuum naked. 😉


Chariti Gent

Madison, WI

    jenlouden - June 26, 2013

    laughed, teared up, felt this so deeply. feeling this now. thank you! thanks to Ruth Ann too!

Cecelia Fresh - June 26, 2013

Very applicable subject matter for me, today. I am working with a recruiter from a firm in Seattle to remain unnamed – and I made the decision to not pursue one of the opportunities presented to me, because it didn’t feel right. Well…this whole notion of ‘not being for sale,’ really is the bottom line of that transaction. It felt wrong to me. It felt dirty. It felt…not natural. And then reading your post breathed so much air into what it was I was trying to identify. The “why.” Ultimately, when we make a business decision – it is based on something being for sale. Whether that is us – or the byproducts of us, and what we create. And sometimes, we just need to hang our “closed” sign up in that window in order to gain clarity and feel into what it is that we are longing for 🙂 Thanks for this video post today, Jen! Just what I needed.

    jenlouden - June 26, 2013

    good on you for listening, not easy yet so imperative. Thank you for writing this.

Julie Daley - June 26, 2013

Yes. Yes. You’ve tapped into something so important. I love Marianne’s perspective as someone who sees this from outside the US. Here, it can feel like I am swimming in a fishbowl. Thank you for a chance to see from outside the bowl. You are a visionary!

Darrah Parker - June 26, 2013

Yes! I am grappling with this right now. I think a few things are going on. In the world of online businesses and solopreneurs, there is a feeling that if we are good at something, we should be able to package it in some way and sell it. I’ve noticed a bit of desperation in the way people market and sell. It’s understandable if that’s the way they’re paying their rent (a reality for a lot of us). So how do we do what we love and follow the whispers that are calling us while letting go of the need to monetize or fit it in a box? How do we make room in our lives for trying something new and experimenting? Ironically, I think that the framework of the Internet has limited what we think we can do. If it doesn’t fit on the screen, then is it worth doing?

My current answer to all of this is “SCREW IT!” Just do what I want to do when I want to do it and how I want to do it. Life is too short!

Katherine Darrow - June 26, 2013

I agree. Our culture mostly defines a person by how they make money rather than who they are. In other words, when someone you meet for the first time asks “So, what do you do?,” they actually mean, “What do you get PAID to do?” or “Where do you work?” For many of us, there may not be an answer, or our paid job is just something we do to get by.

These days too, there is this new expectation that one must have a website, blog and/or business card to be a legitimate anything. And a creepy feeling in some circles that every encounter with another person is “networking;” i.e. if you are not “useful” in someone’s professional network, your value as a human being is negligible, because you can’t help them make more money.

Next time someone asks me what I do, I would like to be able to look them in the eye and say with a smile, “I love life!”

    jenlouden - June 26, 2013

    that is my answer too Katherine. It is a very very good one.

Michelle Andres - June 26, 2013

What I hear you saying is society seems to be devaluing the subtle, priceless humanity of how we serve with our natural gifts. Is that right? If so, does that make us, as human beings, shut down those gifts and devalue them in ourselves?

When that happens, do we find depression, pain, sadness because we are unable to be valued for our own essential selves and natural gifts? Do we only think we have value if our gifts fit into an easily recognizable commercial model?

I think people, especially women, are gravitating towards tribes to escape this phenomenon, because we know it’s not the ‘truth.’ What a fascinating conversation, Jen. Too big for blog convo. This has to be a coffee
chat! Thanks for prompting the conversation. Lots to think about here and probably some very creative solutions!

    jenlouden - June 26, 2013

    thanks Michelle, it is a big conversation! i do love your questions.

heatherplett - June 26, 2013

This is an ongoing struggle for me too. Having done a lot of downsizing in my life and choosing to be intentional about stepping away from work that fills my bank account but kills my soul, I know what it feels like to be de-valued because you don’t have the status or pay check you once had. At the same time, I know what joy it gives me to follow my heart and do the work I love, even though it doesn’t bring in nearly as much money.

Have you read the books “Sacred Economics” or “The Gift”? Those were life-changing books for me, because they so deeply resonated with my belief that we are letting financial value corrupt our sense of community and our deeply human longing to be gift-givers and gift-receivers. I also really like the work of Peter Block, who defines the difference between “citizen” and “consumer” and says that in this world where we have commodified everything and turned our interactions into financial exchanges, we have forgotten what it means to be citizens.

“A citizen is one who is a participant in a democracy, regardless of their legal status. It is one who chooses to create the life, the neighbourhood, the world from their own gifts and the gifts of others. A consumer is one who has surrendered to others the power to provide what is essential for a full and satisfied life. This act of surrender goes by many names: client, patient, student, audience, fan, shopper.” – Peter Block

    jenlouden - July 3, 2013

    sisters separated at birth. so thankful for your voice in the world.

Lora Jansson - June 26, 2013

This is a huge, huge topic, and helped illuminate a shift I feel and am following regarding certain decisions: shifting to a stupid from a smart phone; a very hard look at how social media is, in some many ways, not really only social, but so often has a cagey agenda; a real honing of everything, and I mean everything, I possess externally to simply create more space. These have been intuitive shifts without expectation of their ultimate value as actions — I am just following my gut. What you talk about here is so endemic to the culture that it is hard to even see anymore — somehow, the value of cloud gazing has disappeared from our culture. The seminal value of imagination as not product-driven, but simply as a way of wondering without purpose or without the desire to parlay it into a program, a class, etc. is, I think, very unusual now. I really love Stephen Jenkinsen’s work because he asks questions, very deep ones, that do not have any real answers. They are a part of a larger inquiry whose destination is unknown and uncertain. My small acts of withdrawing from the endless loop of technology is an attempt to step away from the unconscious monetization. I hope that my little changes are just breadcrumbs that lead somewhere. No class. No book. Maybe that will come, and maybe it won’t. But to reclaim the process of the simplicity of life may go somewhere I canont know from where I sit now. And that is very appealing right now. And to really, really look at the whole enchilada — the evolution of the culture — is, of course, difficult because I, like all of us, are also a product of our culture. So I believe you really are onto something here, and, as ever, very much look forward to hearing more ruminations on this. Thanks for making this video and sharing it (and your lipstick looked fine to me:).

    jenlouden - July 3, 2013

    Lora may you be feed so you can do your best work on behalf of us all.

owlsdaughter - June 26, 2013

Thank you for this.. I, too, have been thinking about this a lot lately. Selling our creative work, or our services, or what-have-you is one thing…But commercializing our lives is a nightmare trap I have seen people fall into (and I am not sure they even know it). I’ve flirted with the edges myself and not always successfully.

I absolutely support making a good living as we do our work, serve our calling, and show up for life.

But in the crazy echo chamber that is the world of solo entrepreneurship, online marketing, social media, etc., it is so tempting for everything real to be sacrificed to The Branding. There is a subtle commercial creep that blurs the separation between authentic humanity from gimmick and hubris. I’ve seen how it is when people start believing so much in their own mythical Persona, they must hide, Photoshop, or sacrifice their imperfect, messy, complicated truth.

Thank you for raising the red flag of warning — the game does indeed seem rigged to have us believe we must sell ourselves, if we want to sell the gifts that we offer.

Lisa Mitchell - June 27, 2013

Such good questions!

When is it useful? When your message is so vital that it supports you as well as others. And, in this process, it provides structure for you to continue your own internal exploration/creativity.
In my work with helping healing professionals partner with their creative process, I find that I have to really walk my talk. If I’m not partnering with my creativity in deep and varied ways, I am not representing my message. And, in addition, I’m not benefiting in the more personal ways that I so highly value.
I can then look at my business as both a career and an accountability partner. If I don’t delve into my most creative experiences, then my business suffers and so do I. It’s a win win!

epredota - June 30, 2013

Jen, thank you so much for this! I’ve been working towards having a business based on service and making a positive impact in people’s lives and thus in the world for the past two years, and I notice this too.

Or rather, because of noticing this monetisation obsession in most of the (US-based) teleseminars, trainings, etc. that I’ve been engaging with, it puts me off putting my work out there, for FEAR that I’ll become packaging-money focused, rather than service-impact focused.

And yes, I too love the idea of a universal wage – it’s actually Green Party policy over here in the UK 🙂

    jenlouden - July 3, 2013

    dont stop doing your work! just stay in touch with you, keep some stuff for yourself or at least the experience of it – like the jewel in your heart – but share your stuff. make sense?

      epredota - July 5, 2013

      Thanks, Jen. I can feel what you’re saying 🙂 <3

Patty Bechtold - July 2, 2013

Oh it’s been a long time since I’ve been here and it’s so good to pop in and find this conversation. I feel this all around me online and sometimes it’s a struggle not to get pulled in. I got to a point where I had to ask myself what is creative and deep and precious that is mine, only mine, not to be shared or massaged or made into something for some other purpose than it just being what it is. And then I looked up and realized that this ramped-up/online/monetizing culture is a pretty tiny pond. There’s a whole world of people out there who don’t participate, who don’t know or care about it. They’re living and creating and getting on with their lives. Spending more time in that world is how I put all this in perspective.

    jenlouden - July 3, 2013

    Thanks for stopping by Patty. Well said Patty re: perspective, I totally agree.

Natalie Peluso - July 2, 2013

I know I’ve come to this a week late, but I was inspired to write because your question resonated with me for a slightly different reason. I hope I don’t sound overly cynical!

There is a great deal of concern and outrage in the international opera community because singers – indeed many instrumentalists – are being forced to rehearse for free and sometimes even perform for free because of the “difficult economic climate”.

The rationale being that if you are a musician then you’d do it for free because you love it.

How does one separate creative expression for the pure, unadulterated joy of it – from the need to tap this expression for one’s livelihood? Especially when the world struggles to even put a figure on this value (“The Gift” talks a great deal about this.)

As artists and creative people we get so mixed up about the passion and love for what we do, and the bastardization of that passion by money and business and paying bills. Mix that up with the internet where creators suddenly become their own promoters/marketers/salespersons/distributors and the act of creating in the first place becomes muddled with the promotion of it.

And when the value for what we create is so easily discovered and shared on the internet, down goes that value in the marketplace. So the pressure is on to make anything – everything – worth something! – because there is so little perceived value left… and we are sold this idea that we can simply just be passionate, creative selves and make money doing it. All the time. This is where the difficulty really starts, I think.

    jenlouden - July 3, 2013

    You don’t sound cynical at all! I could not agree with you more & I recorded this because I wanted to remind myself to not sell my inner life, my inner experiences, to value and Enjoy them, and then get wonder/plot/plan how to make money from them if at all. It’s exactly what you are saying that can infect me in ways I don’t like – I understand why it is happening to me, I certainly don’t blame myself & I want to be sure to take care of myself. Does that make sense?

patria94 - November 21, 2013

Recently I was REALLY low on money and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money on the internet! I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this.. With all the financial stress these years, I really hope all of you will give it a chance. – hep4

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