Confessions of an Amateur Communist

“This is the real bottom line. A person, with a paycheck, in his pocket, every other week, forever and ever, Amen.” – Jodi Rell

A little secret I learned two years ago has allowed me to more than double my income.

You can use this same secret yourself. Perhaps it’ll work just as well for you.

And the beautiful thing is …

You won’t have to change companies or go back to school …

You won’t have to storm into your boss’s office, demanding a raise …

You won’t even have to work any harder!

But I can almost guarantee that this secret will dramatically improve your financial situation if you’re an employee … and that, if you’re an employer, telling this secret to your employees will increase your profits significantly from day one.

Here’s the secret …

In a quick ETR message to employees looking to break out of their ruts, Michael Masterson was callous enough to suggest that anyone making less than $70,000 a year needed to figure out a way to get closer to his company’s “profit stream.”

In other words, that if you were floundering along with an average salary, you simply needed to find a way to more directly contribute to your company’s bottom line.

It’s a paradigm shift that involves doing something most humans find very difficult: putting your own self interests aside, for just a moment.

The trick is: Whenever you take an action at your company, whenever you start a new project or hire a new person or suggest a plan of action, you ask yourself: “Does what I’m doing here contribute to this company’s profit stream?”

If the answer is no, you find something else to do.

For me, that question was anathema.

I was an editor with a financial publishing firm, and had been an editor (with an English accent, like “edi-tah”) and writer my whole career. A career that spanned some 15 years and included stints with some fairly prestigious newspapers and magazines from New York to Washington, D.C. to Chicago … along with numerous awards and incremental pay raises.

All the while, I was blissfully, almost purposefully, unconcerned with what the “hacks” in advertising were up to. (Usually, I assumed it was something nefarious, possibly involving double-entry accounting or even the transportation of immigrant labor in overheated boxcars.) I figured the sales guys lived crass, empty lives, chasing nickels and dimes and kowtowing to “the man” before passing out in their cots somewhere uptown.

Then, within a span of about six months, I had a kid … and then read Masterson’s article.

It was a one-two punch.

Suddenly, my eyes opened to the possibility that, some day, this kid might need health insurance, a place to sleep, clothes, food, tickets to the movies, keys to a working automobile, and some kind of financial compensation upon the unfortunate occasion of his parents’ demise.

So, I figured, let’s give this man’s advice a try.

I started by asking myself: “Okay … so how does my company make money? And how can I help it make more money in the most direct way possible?”

The answer was simple.

Instead of using my writing and editing abilities, such as they were, to create reports and newsletters … I would switch over to the copywriting side. Where, suddenly, I would be SELLING the reports by writing … drum roll, please … sales copy.

Sounded simple. It was. But it was not easy.

I paid my dues, listened and learned, and pounded out literally dozens of drafts of my first sales letters, each successive draft more ridiculously horrible than the last. But after a while, all my mentors and helpful readers along the way helped me become a decent copywriter.

My stuff started pulling good “numbers.” (I love those kinds of words now!)

After years of holding myself above the riffraff, I was down in the trenches, selling stuff. I was bringing in millions of dollars for my company – instead of merely drawing a paycheck as a highfalutin “edi-tah” and snickering at the sales “geeks.”

Obviously, I’m damn happy I made the switch. (So is my wife, by the way. She no longer has to clip coupons – although she still does and always will, I’d bet.)

The idea of “getting closer to the profit stream” shocked me awake after 15 years of slumber, and got me not only closer to the profit stream but, more importantly for me, closer to some really interesting people who were making real decisions. Closer to the ideas that were shaping the company’s future … closer to the risks and the rewards … and, perhaps most important of all, closer to the fun.

Today’s Action Plan: Think about what you do each day in terms of what it’s bringing – or not bringing – to your company’s bottom line. If you’re not making $70,000 a year, you’re probably not close enough to the profit stream.

Here are some examples of what you can do about that:

If you work for an auto dealership and you’re a mechanic, get your butt on the sales floor and start moving Chevys. That’s what your boss is really trying to do, because that’s what brings in the money and helps the company survive.

If you work at a hospital answering phones, find a way to work in the supply department, where you can improve controls and lower the hospital’s expenditures.

If you work in middle-management and oversee staff, find a way to contribute to strategy, and figure out ways for your team to improve your company’s bottom-line profits in the most direct way possible.

Or if, like me, you think copywriting might be the way to go, look into AWAI’s copywriting program

It’s ironic: By putting the company’s interests first, and trying in good faith to do what you can to build the business, YOU will be rewarded as a result.

[Ed. Note: Jay Livingston is a professional copywriter. He lives in Delray Beach, Florida with his wife Melissa and their 3-year-old son Nate, who will soon be taught to get closer to his company’s profit stream by cutting the neighbors’ lawns.]