Ten years ago Daniel Pink wrote a book entitled, “A Whole New Mind”, in which he introduced the concept that we are currently in what he called the Idea or Conceptual Age. He argued that moving forward, due to global competition and technology, we would have to look for new ideas and careers. His argument is similar to that presented by Thomas Friedman in “The World Is Flat”. Both present the case that the traditional careers and ways of earning a living are disappearing as we become more of a global economy.

Dan Miller addressed this in his book, “No More Dreaded Mondays” when he wrote, “Begin to see in the changes around you opportunities rather than the elimination of potential security and predictable income.” To illustrate his point, he gives a scenario that might have played out centuries ago. He asked us to consider a community of 10 cavemen who each go to a lake and fish for the day with the hopes of bringing home enough fish for their families. Their world instantly changed when one of them brings a net he made and they all realize that one person can catch enough fish for all of them and their families in just a few hours. What are the other nine to do now that technology has replaced them? Miller argues that they began to use their creativity to create entire industries that advanced civilization. They saw the situation as an opportunity.

Many of the careers that exist today weren’t around 10, 15 or even 25 years ago. I won’t bore you, but feel free to Google jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago. You will find some interesting results. Too many people are caught up in the fact that old careers and therefore, old ways of earning a living, are disappearing. They fail to notice the opportunities that surround them to start a business or invent something new when they are looking for a job or need extra income. Let me encourage you to begin looking for creative but simple ways to earn a living. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Let me give you two examples of simple things that people developed to generate income. I discovered both while on a visit to Busch Gardens in Tampa. Actually, both were at the river rapids ride called Congo River Rapids. I was the designated holder of drink cups, bags, purses, etc. You know, the guy we all made fun of when we were kids. I wandered over to a viewpoint of the river to wait for my family to come by. Around me were eight boxes each with a slot and a button. To my amazement, four people placed quarters into the slots then waited for a boat to come past. When one did, they hit the button and a pipe in the side of the hill squirted a shot of water at the boat. I waited at the spot and watched as boat after boat came by, each one having no less than two shots of water squirted at them. Every time a boat came by, somewhere between 50 cents and a dollar was being placed into those boxes. Not one boat came by where two people didn’t pay a quarter to attempt to squirt the people in the boat. Can you say cha-ching? It was like a game to them. Some people ended up spending five or more dollars while just standing there, to be able to squirt one boat after another. These people treasured the opportunity to squirt people in boats.

Finally, my family came by. Three people tried to squirt them, and then I decided to head to the ride exit to wait for them. Guess what I found? For those who didn’t want to walk around the park wet after getting off the Congo River Rapids, they could pay money to stand inside a machine that promised to dry them off. How much do you think people were willing to pay to stand in this human dryer? Would you believe 5 dollars? I was shocked. I would rather go around wet than pay that kind of money. But, I witnessed two groups who paid the money and stood in there to dry off. That was just in the five minutes I waited for my family to finish their ride, get off the boat, and make their way to the ride exit.

What do these two things have in common? They were simple devices that someone created whereby there seemed to be a steady stream of customers. Fifty cents at a time might not seem like much but when multiplied by the number of boats per day, I figure those eight boxes were bringing in $10k per month. The best part is there were no employees. The same for the human dryer. If four groups per hour felt the need to be dry, that machine would be bringing in about $5k per month. Some ingenious inventors had recognized that people have a need to get other people wet while many feel the need to be dry when visiting a theme park.

Opportunities big and small exist all around us and we just need some imagination to help us create ideas to fill those opportunities. If you need a job, want to start a business or simply want some extra income, look for creative ways to make money even if it is a quarter at a time.

Do you look for ways to make money?

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