The Energy of Value

Value has energy, and it creates energy. The stock market is driven by the pursuit of value: People invest in a company when they believe it has value, and they sell when the value goes down. When we start businesses, we believe that the products or services we are offering have value to customers. If I value something, I am motivated to pursue it.

The greater the value, the greater the energy. I believe value is like money. Money is a universal incentive (in behavior analysis terms, a generalized reinforcer) because it can be exchanged for an infinite number of physical or virtual goods. Value is like money for energy; regardless of the task, and whether it aligns with my core strengths, if it has value, I will generate some kind of energy by engaging in it. Interestingly, when we are engaged in activities that have inherently low value, our personal energy flags; thus, it acts as a barometer of sorts for potential value. Google has a frequently touted motto: “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”4 I propose a minor modification: “Focus on the value and all else will follow.”

The Role of Individuals in Finding Value

In the summer of 2011, I made the big move from California to New York to start my new job—coincidentally, right when I was starting to write this book. Between the time I finished my old job and was to start my new one, I had three weeks—yes, three weeks!—with no formal work obligations. Given my tight book deadline, I set the audacious ...

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