What is leverage? And what is the most important thing?

I’m in the process of trying to rethink how I work and earn. It’s a process of reinvention.

Perhaps it’s a continuous and permanent process from now on.

My inspiration for this comes from a print on my wall by a cartoonist I like. The image above is a copy of the print.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to reinvent myself either. It might be something like the fifth or sixth time.

Most people who know me professionally only really know the last iteration. Or two.

Here’s what I’ve realised this time around:

  • Rather than renting out my time for money, I need leverage.

But what is leverage?

Brutal truth: It’s not saving money. Saving money isn’t a form of leverage.

At least, it’s not an efficient form. If someone earns $100K per year, it would take 10 years to earn their way to $1M. That’s not including any saving.

Not including any saving.

To save $1M earning $100K per year would probably take me 100 years. And saving feels kinda like it’s based in fear.

Is this any way to make money? I don’t think so. So what’s the alternative?


Leverage is something that allows me to get back more from a system than I put into it.

In other words, I should be looking for force multipliers.

As, one of my internet heroes, @naval has pointed out on Twitter recently, old forms of leverage are people and capital. The new leverage is code and media.

Getting other people to work for me is old-school leverage of human capital. It’s expensive and time-consuming.

And it’s something that I haven’t really enjoyed it in the past. In fact, I’ve hated it and done it badly.

I want to build stuff I love. I have a natural bent towards creating products and services. But I’m not a coder. That’s why I keep asking questions like these:

  • Are books, courses and podcasts the best form of media leverage?
  • If not, what’s better?

However… the knowledge that was collectively dropped on me recently via the Twitter hive-mind has blown me away.

I don’t know if the contributors were wealthy or not. But they were super-smart. And they were there for me to amplify and correct my thinking.

The conversations I had online about this felt good. Like I was part of a tribe.

And what can see now is that I’ve possibly been putting the cart before the horse. Not that I’m going to stop making cool stuff though.

But I need to change my focus. Here’s what I’ve realised.

As a non-coder, it’s possible that the best leverage for me is still people. I say “it’s possible” because I admit this grudgingly.

However, I got schooled on this recently. I recognise the truth in it. And I welcome it. But what does this mean in practical terms?

Should I get other people to work for me again? The truth is that the best people won’t work for me.

What’s the alternative then? The alternative sounds trite. But the solution might be to rethink my product and service focus.

And by “might” I mean “is”

Moreover, I need to stop trying to make a next thing. I need to direct my energy toward creating, building, fostering a network.

And I don’t mean LinkedIn.

I mean a borderless, decentralised global network of the wise and the weird informed and enabled by the internet.

The internet, and especially platforms like Twitter, enable a new form of people-based leverage.

It’s a new kind of force multiplier

This writing is an example of that leverage. Of leveraging the power of a network.

It was co-created via a conversation with a crowd of people that I don’t know.

Thanks for that twitter whanau. See you on the internets.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

6 thoughts

  1. This…”I mean a borderless, decentralised global network of the wise and the weird informed and enabled by the internet.” is everything 🙂

  2. Collaboration between people is a good way forward- no amount of money or code will save us, and from what I’ve seen people with money aren’t necessarily the nicest, happiest or smartest people; and people who understand code don’t necessarily understand people! Comfort kills innovation, so I think it’s good for us all to be a little bit uncomfortable!

    1. Thanks Lucy. I agree. Money fixes your money problems. But there are other problems. Discomfort is a great teacher.

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