I used to — and to some extent still do — think that the best way to think about careers and businesses are to adopt a mindset of "what will make me the most money?" It seems reasonable and it's definitley the cultural narrative that we have:
- "Follow the money"
- "If they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up"
With that being said, I think there might be a better way to look at things. Rather than focusing on "making the most money", I think it might be better to optimize for identifying problems or needs and then solving those problems or addressing those needs.
Problem solving and addressing needs seems like a leading indicator to making money; if you focus on solving problems, people will inevitably pay you as a result.
I think of Goodhart's law: Once something becomes a measure (or optimization point), it ceases to be a good measure. So in money's case, it's might not be great to just chase money. Instead, focus on problems.
Caveat: if you're running a business, you probably do want to follow the money at some point though. You can't go on forever without getting paid for the work that you do; you actually need to find customers who value you work and will pay you for it. In that case, it makes sense to follow the money.
Written: November 23, 2020