If Perception Determines Your Paycheck, What Are You (Really) Worth?

Hey there, today I’m going to talk about perception.

Perception really is a BIG deal, perception of self, perception of others, and how others perceive you.

Your perception of your self and how others perceive you directly affects how successful you are in any given area of life. An exercise I gave in last week’s article was designed to shift your self-perception. Until we see ourselves as being of great value and having outstanding products and services to offer, we’re not going to crack this game.

Perception Determines Whether We Get Paid or Not

Understanding perception and defining perception determines whether you get paid or not.

Let me explain this with an example, you may have seen or heard this before.

In 2007, the Washington Post ran an experiment in context, perception and priorities. A young man stood in a Washington Metro Station and played a violin for 43 minutes whilst 1097 people walked past. In that time, the violinist made $32.17 and a couple of people stopped briefly to listen to him play.

The guy playing the violin was Joshua Bell, one of the world’s greatest classical musicians who sells out shows for the minimum of $100 a ticket. He was playing on a 3.5 million dollar violin.

It doesn’t matter that this man is by far and away the greatest living violinist, or that he played some of the most difficult and intricate compositions in the world. Almost nobody paid him with attention, time or money.

How Do You Perceive Value?

This leads me to discuss how humans perceive and attribute value to things. Perception is the result of the information you’re given about something, as well the beliefs you form in relation to it, and context plays a role as well, but I don’t think it’s as important as perception and resulting beliefs.

In the case of Joshua Bell, only one person who passed through that metro station knew who he was, and she stopped to listen. The other two people who stopped to listen knew enough about the music being played to have an appreciation for the violinist’s ability to do so with such grace and finesse.

In order to be paid attention, time or money, your audience needs to be informed about who you are and your history – or story – that qualifies you and your product or service. If the commuters in the metro station were told:

  • the violinist was one of the world’s greatest classical musicians
  • they would normally have to pay at least $100 to listen to him play
  • he was playing some of the most intricate and difficult compositions ever written

They would have the information needed to shift their perceptions about the performance. The information would have changed the beliefs they formed about the musician and what he was playing, and their shift in perception and beliefs would in turn affect their actions. I’m not saying that everyone would have stopped and listened and paid him money, but he certainly would have been paid a lot more of the commuters’ time, attention and money.

How Does Perception Affect Your Business?

So, how does this relate to your business? Your audience needs to know how and why you qualify to be deserving of their attention, time and money. Your audience needs to know what makes you and your product or service so different, valuable and compelling that it’s in their best interests to pay you with some of their time, attention and money.

It’s that simple. The problem is, even though it is simple, it’s also annoyingly tricky. The whole world is out there vying for your customer’s time, attention and money. You need to provide the most compelling and comprehensive body of evidence that you’re among the top trustworthy and qualified authorities in your niche.

How Do You Accomplish This?

  1. Kerry McDuling’s posts offer a number of surefire ways to generate publicity for your business that help you create a compelling and comprehensive body of evidence for your customers.
  2. Great character testimonials and rave reviews from clients or peers via social media is another way to accomplish this.
  3. I’ve mentioned leveraging your profile by association in a previous post. This works wonders because when you’re associated with a high profile person, people immediately perceive you differently, form different beliefs about your value and act accordingly.

All of these are exercises in directing perception.

Which Option Will Work Best For You?

All of these options will work depending on where your strengths lie. And having an established client base and strong connections is always going to help. There’s nothing stopping you from trying all three, even if you are just starting out, the main thing is to understand that you need to provide value in every case and be aware of the etiquette required for each scenario.

Option 1 can work well if you’re just starting and need to build a client or fan base. You still need very compelling and newsworthy information to have it selected for publication or broadcast, and you need to understand how the publicity game is played.

Option 2 works well if you already have some raving fans or peers who love what you’re doing.

Option 3 works well if you have created some strong relationships over time with high profile people and can offer them something that significantly enhances the value of their product or service in order for them to endorse you and yours.

I would consider trying every angle and then work on the 80/20 rule and focus on whichever one gives you the most bang for your buck. Have fun & good luck!

Cheers, Neroli.

P.S. I’m going to be giving away the latest model Kindle as part of my upcoming book launch on Amazon. Stay tuned for details over the next few weeks 🙂

About Neroli Makim

Neroli Makim is an intuitive artist and writer who loves exploring Creativity and its relationship to personal fulfillment and professional success. She educates people about Creativity, what it is, why it’s important and how to access it within themselves. For more information, visit www.yourcreativesuccess.com.

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  • How people view a person is everything online. This is the different in making Millions or just making a couple hundred dollars.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

    • Hey antonio:)

      You’re going to have to get a prize one of these days for always being the very first person to comment, & get a prize for always taking the time to drop in and leave a message. Many thanks, and totally agree with you on what a difference perception makes!
      cheers, neroli

  • Hey Neroli
    An easy thing to lose site of for sure. People try and compete on price all the time because it “seems” easier. Price might get people to listen, but it won’t get them to buy. At least not the ones you want coming back:)
    Mark Aylward

    • such a good point Mark, competing on price isn’t really where it’s at if you’re interested in long term premium clients. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment, cheers, neroli

  • I believe fans are most important. Id rather have 1000 fans than 100,000 deadbeats. Your fans will spread the word about you to everybody they know.

    Apple has fans! That is why people stand in line for hours to get a newer version of the iphone every 3 months. Die hard fans follow blindly.

    • Absolutely Kent, I’d say that’s the most valuable asset for sure:) cheers, neroli

  • 100% agree, but I have to add, it’s not just your CUSTOMER’s perceptions that affect your paycheck. I’m sure most of us know people who can’t do their job properly, but for some reason keep getting promoted – because they believe in themselves so solidly they convince interviewers they are fantastic.

    I’ve had fun with this, and used LOA and other techniques to grown my own self-perception on 3 occasions, within 30 days getting new job offers at 56% to over 150% of my salary at the time – in one case along with an apology that it might not be a great salary for my skills, but might be a good entry point for me to start working higher.

    I’m absolutely convinced that it’s critical to build an inner world foundation of belief in yourself before you can build a skyscraper in the outer world. (At least one that will stay up.)


    • very good point Crystal, and I agree that the inner world is where it starts;) In retrospect, an article on self perception prior to this one would have been a good idea! Well, it will just have to come later, thanks for your comment. Cheers, neroli

  • Hello Neroli,

    Thanks for your post, I really like the example with the violinist. You gave me a lot to think about. Why do I qualify to deserve the attention, time and money from others? Those are good questions to think about. Reminds me of a Teleseminar I once listened to about Successful Speaking and that for that you need to be preceived as an Expert on something, and how having written a Book about a specific topic can give you instant Expert Status in a certain field. Although on my – Home Business Lifestyle Blog – you can frequently read posts that are in alignment with the little (e)Book I wrote about Happy Lifestyle.,

    Only sometimes I almost forget to really think about telling people more about Happy Lifestyle, So Recently I actually wrote a New Post about it being somewhat more specific about it and as soon as I posted it, I directly received a positive comment on it, so I wonder if this is just one lucky comment or that it is so well perceived that many others will follow, Feel free to check it out for your self you can find this post at: http://hpshappyhomebusiness.blogspot.com/2011/08/what-makes-home-business-happy-one.html

    All the Best,
    To your Happy – Home Business – Inspiration,

    • I’m glad the article got some thoughts ticking over for you. I always love it when I get questions to think about that create perception shifts for me. Hope your article is generating more comments through this process too;) cheers, neroli

  • Your Joshua Bell example is amazing! Thank goodness no one robbed his 3.5 million violin in the subway. I know this isn’t the main thrust of your post, but I have to say that I’m 99% positive I would have recognized him – I’ve seen him perform in DC in several venues. I saw him at Wolftrap when he was just a lad of 18.

    • Hey Heidi – I know! I bet if anyone knew it was worth $3.5 million he might have had a few scuffles over it! Apparently he caught a cab the few blocks from the hotel to the subway so as to be safe in transit with it;) Thanks for checking out the article and leaving a comment. Cheers, neroli

  • Ann

    Good article, good old fashion service always works. Making customers feel important

    • Hey Ann, I couldn’t agree more – I’ve just spent half an hour on the phone to recorded voice prompters & I hate them! I’d rather speak to a person any day! Cheers, neroli

  • Thanks for this article.This is the best article i’ve seen on the relation between perception and business

    • Hey Hazma, thanks for your comment, glad you liked the article:) Cheers, neroli

  • Yeah! We were taught before too that the others perception of you or regard to you depends on how you see yourself too. If you’re confident of yourself, people will see you of value. The example was really if you think you’re ugly, others will suppose you the same but if you believe you’re beautiful, others will deem you pretty as well.

    • Hey Zeph, I couldn’t agree more! There’s actually an entire article waiting to be written on that topic as well:) Cheers, neroli

  • That was one of the most eye-opening articles I’ve read on Yaro’s blog in quite a while… thanks for writing and sharing it Neroli.

    Great title selection and great job! You’ve captured my interest 🙂

    • Hey Steve, glad you liked the article:) I get some help with the titles/headlines from Yaro & Steph, which is great as I’m still learning what makes a really good one! Cheers, neroli

  • The other two people who stopped to listen knew enough about the music being played to have an appreciation for the violinist’s ability to do so with such grace and finesse.

  • We all know perception is important to determine value. The price of your product or service is another element that can affect how its value is perceived. Contrary to what some may advice, pricing something too low can lead a perception of low quality for example.

    • Hmm, this is a tricky one…I’m about to launch a book on Amazon & apparently the way to go is to set a very low price just to begin with…I was very wary of doing this due to lowering people’s perceived value of the book…but after further research and consideration, it works just for the strategy we’re playing with for this particular launch. I’d always be careful with it though. Cheers, neroli

  • Wow, some really good things to think about. Thanks for the great tips!!

    A lot of businesses lack perception on account of not applying to it to the business plan. It’s something that definitely needs to well thought of, after all it is how the public will perceive your company!

    • Yep – it’s a funny game we’re all paying with perception…but it amazes me how big a deal it is! cheers, neroli

  • I guess this is the same as applying for a job. Without your superb resume, you can only get good salary but if you have it filled with experiences from good companies, you’ll probably have the best salary.

    • Yeah, it is like that hey GB? I’ve worked on a contract basis at one of Australia’s premier art galleries for 7 years, and I know that really makes a difference when i’m going for things within the same industry…even if it’s not related to the arts industry, just having the experience from such a well known & well respected business seems to work in my favor. Cheers, neroli

  • Ted

    perceptions=Big Hat no Cattle

  • Some good points! The anecdote about the violinist is very interesting and does indeed make you think about perceived value. There a scene in the Simpsons I believe, where they go to a theme park and there is MASSIVE queue. They join the queue on the assumption that it must be for something amazing if it’s THAT long. It turns out to be the toilets. 🙂

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