Skill Level Appropriate for all
- The best way to be successful, in fact, probably the only way, is to find a way to help other people, something that adds value to their lives, and then provide that service or product in a quality way. You might be able to find a way to make money quickly in the short term, but in order to be successful in a sustainable way, you'll need to provide a genuinely useful product or service. And I really like the idea that you can't be successful without helping other people to succeed first.
So the question is, what do you have to offer that will help other people? It might be information or knowledge, some specialist area that you know about that other people want to know about, or it might be a skill that other people don't have and need help with. It might be a product that's useful that they can't make themselves or can't make in a cost-effective way as a one-off. The key is not to start with how can I make money because that will lead to short-term plans, things that you don't really believe in and things that don't add real value to other people, so it won't be sustainable in the longer term.
Find something great that you are great at doing and helps others, and the money will sort itself out later. Of course, you need to earn enough to live, to maintain your health and your mental well-being. Almost none of us have the luxury of being able to just walk out of our jobs and follow our hearts, but what I'm saying is rather than focusing on the money alone, aim for making a difference to other people and to the world as well. And this also applies if you're a manager in an organization.
How can you make the lives of your team better? How can you help them to flourish? And if they flourish, so will you. How can you help them to learn and develop? How can you get your department to give a better service to the rest of the organization? How can you help your external customers? Start with this, and then your career will benefit as well. Examples of this idea of benefiting your customers first would be, say, Apple's obsession with making their products beautiful and intuitive to use, which has ended up with them getting a large market share while also being able to charge premium prices.
I also like the example of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. They started out making ice cream that they loved. They just wanted to be different and great. And because they were doing something that they really believed in, regardless of the cost of making such great ice cream, they sold more and more and have deservedly been massively successful. They also seem to have fun doing it, which is double success in my book. And finally, one more example of success through doing something that you believe in without focusing on the money first would be many of the best bands, for example, Pink Floyd or Bruce Springsteen.
They've made money for sure, but they started and continued playing music that they believed in, which made the music great, and therefore, they sold more and made more money as a byproduct. Sure, there are plenty of commercially-created bands designed and promoted just to make money. And some of them have done well for a short period, but who'll remember them in 100 years' time? So if you're starting out on a planned success path, make sure it's something that you believe is good and something that's going to make the world a better place rather than basing your plans purely on how to make money.