The world may run on money but passion is the fuel!

The world may run on money but passion is the fuel

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My mom had ear surgery a few months ago. The fee for the surgeon and the anaesthetist was surprisingly low! The former getting about Rs. 11,000 and the latter about Rs. 4,500. Is that low? Or is that high considering that both would do about 3-4 such surgeries a day and about 8-10 a week? Judging a salary is subjective and almost always a touchy issue. These days I would prefer to do it this way.

Before we begin, catch up on this week’s posts:

A few years ago, I would have said that is very good money, considering the surgeon can perform close to 30 such operations each month and some of them more complicated than my mother = higher fee. Today my outlook is different.

The doctor has to wake up and go to work every day. She does not show for a couple of days, no operations, no fee. No outpatients, and no new operations. That is the case for most of us. We need to show up for work to continue getting our salaries.

Which automatically begs the question, is it possible to make money without having to show up for work every day? Yes, it certainly is. I do not know how feasible or common this was 20 years ago, but I do know for a fact that the internet has changed the way money is made.

Consider a person selling e-books and video courses. The most effective way to do this is, is via a funnel system: Buy the first book or course and then make the “student” buy a second more expensive course and then a third and so on (4/5 stages). After the initial effort of creating this funnel and marketing it, the effort associated to keep it going is minimal. This can (if the content is good and that is a big, big if; and the marketing is done right another big if) lead to an almost passive income much more than what the surgeon makes a month.

Hang on. Why did I say that the surgeon’s fee is low? Suppose you are selling a digital product for say Rs. 3999. You put in a lot of effort to create it, but once you are finished, there is little left to do. If you showcase your product before the right sets of eyes and make about three sales every two days, you will gradually realize that the surgeon/anaesthetist is doing a lot more work, life-saving in fact compared to the money you make off this product.

I am pretty sure many of you will disagree with this argument. However, I find it hard to swallow the difference between the two “business models”. That is how the cookie crumbles and it is not a pretty sight (my fault for expecting otherwise).

Thankfully for all of us, not all of us think that way although occasionally many of us think about it. The surgeon shows up to work because she is passionate. That is her calling. That is what makes her tick. The same is true for many other low paying jobs: teaching and reporting are two common examples.

Of course, most people in the world cannot follow their passion – because of family circumstances, not enough money, not enough marks, not enough focus or desire at the right time and so on. Most people in the world get a job, not a career.

If you “have” a career, the effort of showing up for work would not seem like an effort. The passion to be the best at what they do towers above all else. For those with a “job”, they do as told to keep their family together and hold their dreams afloat. Maybe, just maybe, their children would have a career – do something that they love.

That is indeed the case with me. Both my mother and father had jobs, but that gave me a career. Read more about this: O Captain! My Captain! Wait a minute! My parent did follow their passion – their family was their passion, I was their passion. How easy it is to look down on others!

Then there are the innovators, the inventors, the dreamers, the creators, the writers, the poets, the painters, the musicians. Very few of them get rich and famous, and only some among these few when they alive! Yet they do what do because something tells them to. They keep us the rest of us afloat. They drive change in the world.

It is easy to ridicule those who have a ‘do as told job” as unsuccessful. It is easy to assume that “making money while asleep” is better than having to show up for work each day. However, they are the shoulders that we stand on.

The world runs on money and human industry does the driving. It is, however, our passion – a strong desire to look beyond money – that acts as fuel.  And fuel is as always precious, limited. Often that passion is to keep a family alive, keep the dreams of our children alive, but it no less a passion.

Bottom line: We need to respect the role played by everyone around us, no matter how big or small their salary is. If we are happy and comfortable today (if you are reading this, you probably are), it is because of everyone!

There is hope though! We may need to show for work each day, but today, thanks largely to the internet, we can gradually build a secondary income stream that is sustainable  (face the test of time) and scalable (income increases, not effort and time). Even if it is just a few dollars a month, we work towards such an ideal income so that it begins to pay off when we retire. Each Monday I discuss aspects of secondary income generation on Youtube. Watch all videos published so far.

Also, see Why a second income is important! Why you have to start now!

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About the Author M Pattabiraman author of freefincal.comM. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the author and owner of  He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras since Aug 2006. Pattu” as he is popularly known, has co-authored two print-books, You can be rich too with goal based investing (CNBC TV18) and Gamechanger and seven other free e-books on various topics of money management.  He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India” an organisation to promote unbiased, commission-free investment advice. Pattu publishes unbiased, promotion-free research, analysis and holistic money management advice. Freefincal serves more than one million readers a year (2.5 million page views) with numbers based analysis on topical issues and has more than a 100 free calculators on different aspects of insurance and investment analysis. He conducts free money management sessions for corporates  and associations(see details below). Previous engagements include World Bank, RBI, BHEL, Asian Paints, TamilNadu Investors Association etc. Contact information: freefincal {at} Gmail {dot} com (sponsored posts or paid collaborations will not be entertained)
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  1. Dear Sir,
    You are impressing with your every aspects like be in statistics in financials instead of approximation, valuing personal ethics in ahead of money, respecting & taking care of parents, trying to attain the stage of Mr. Perfect on our job, going for a extra mile in teaching / preaching to pass on the message to opposite end as it is without diluting the contents, stick to our boundary / limitations while answering the comments of others etc… It’s more or less reflecting my character but very tough and struggling to retain this while performing our job. Since you are in academic side, possibly ok for you. Apart from my parents, since I’m from Ramakrishna mission students home (hope near by to your location), more influenced with the personal ethics rather than commercial / eco / politics with most of the current circumstances. Sometimes I think that I’m only the odd man in the whole group and need to change our self. Once after seeing your posts, it’s giving enthusiasm & positive energy that I’m right to keep continue and will be paid off one fine morning but don’t know when? Persistence is the key.
    Heart felt thanks for your valuable posts as always.

  2. Nice article dear Professor, I can say that your articles were fuel to my financial journey. I would not have come this far without them. Articles like these too are educational to me, you are a good teacher and I am lucky to have found you.

  3. Internet has also helped me find teachers like you, your thoughts have greatly influenced me. Thank you for all your work.

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