Are You One in a Million? Or One of a Million?

Don’t confuse Time with Value. All rich people — actors, athletes, business owners — focus on value, not time.

Jerry Roth
Ascent Publication
6 min readMay 24, 2019


Your time is valuable. Are you one in a million? Or just one of a million?

After responding to an urgent call from a customer, the Computer Repair tech did a quick analysis, took a small hammer from his tool kit, and tapped on the side of the computer. The computer booted up and the tech presented a bill to the distressed customer for $400.

“Four hundred dollars?” cried the customer, “Just to hit it with a hammer? I could have done that!”

The tech smiled at the customer, took back the bill and wrote, “Tap on computer = $1.00. Knowing where to tap = $399.”

Jim Rohn was famous for teaching; “It takes time to bring value to the marketplace. But you don’t get paid for the time, you get paid for the value.”

Sometimes the value exceeds the time. Sometimes the time exceeds the value.

Standing in the showroom of our Sacramento branch, I noticed some paintings on display. We didn’t sell paintings, so I was curious. Evidently, a local ex-con had been given permission by our manager to hang some paintings he painted while in the joint.

After staring at them for awhile, I considered buying one. I got his phone number, called him, and he rushed over.

When I asked how much he wanted for the one I had chosen, he proceeded to tell me how many hours he had spent on the painting, how long it took him to build the frame, how much money he had spent on materials, and so on.

I interrupted him and asked, “What were you in for?

He said, “Growing marijuana”.

With a smile I asked, “How long did it take you to grow and harvest your plants?”

Before he could answer, I asked if he sold the pot for the time it took and his cost of materials? Or for the going market rate? He reluctantly but matter-of-factly said, “Whatever the market rate was.”

In other words, time does not equal money, value equals money.

Your time is only worth the value that it brings to someone else. If you can be easily replaced, your value is less than someone who cannot be easily replaced. It’s simple economics. When you are one of a million, there are 999,999 replacements capable of taking your job. But if you are one in a million, it will be almost impossible to replace you.

If you sell a product, its value might not correlate with its cost. Auto manufacturers discovered this in the recession of the 1980’s when the cost to build a car in America was substantially greater than Asian countries. When Americans started buying Japanese, it was a sad sight to see the parking lots of Ford and GM full of Hondas and Toyotas. In this case, both the worker and the product were easily replaced.

Whatever you sell, or make, or do, you should charge a price that the market thinks is fair. Fair doesn’t mean cheap. It could mean expensive. Since your customer (the market) is who determines the value, it’s up to you to show that value, sell that value — not just quote a price. Stop thinking about “selling” for money and start focusing on offering value. People will pay your price if they appreciate your value.

To the world you are one. To one, you are the world.

Tom Rath, of Strengths Finder 2.0, suggests, “You are the most important person in the world, right now, to somebody.”

Whether you’re a cab driver, a baggage handler, a burger flipper, a CEO or a janitor, to someone at some point, you will be the most important person in their world — you have what they need — you have value they are willing to pay for.

In any profession, you should be able to find a way to ensure your job makes a difference, that what you do will help someone, improve someone’s life, solve someone’s problem, and that it will be better than the other 999,999.

Doing meaningful work and creating happiness for others is what you should get paid for.

Unfortunately, many of us have trouble seeing how we’re making a difference. Most workers who seek and accept “jobs”, are misguided. They think their well-being is more important than the customers. A simple switch of attitude is all they need to become more valuable.

Zig Ziglar’s most famous advice has always been, “You can get anything you want in life if you just help enough other people get what they want.”

What can you do today, and from now on, to change how you feel about your job? What value do you bring to the marketplace? How do you make your customers happy? If you’re not happy with your current paycheck, how can you offer more value? What small things at low cost can you do to demonstrate how much you care? How can you anticipate the needs of your customers? How can you make a difference in your customers’ lives?

Forget expensive web sites — think instead about proactively providing value and anticipating what would truly delight your customers. Exceed their expectations. Deliver more than they paid for. Think in larger terms, be seen in a larger light, live large. You want people to talk about you.

The Uber driver who vacuums his car, uses deodorant and mouthwash, is miles ahead of most. The driver who provides a clean copy of today’s paper, or a few current magazines, maybe some small snacks and bottled water, is even better. But the driver who does all that, plus has phone chargers and a business card and tells you to call whenever you need a ride, will be the most valuable.

The salesclerk, or the restaurant worker, or the grocery store manager, all could be better than most by simply smiling. I am always amazed at how many service workers have poor attitudes. When it comes time for promotions and raises, they’ll be the ones saying, “It’s not fair. I’ve been here longer. I should make more money.” If only they had tweaked their thinking and focused on the customer.

Providing value, instead of just price, is the secret to evergreen customers, customers that keep coming back, even if the value is only in your customer’s mind. I recently heard of a lawyer who advertises a rate of $1,000 an hour just to impress people. He rarely charges that, but he gets tons of business because people are expecting outrageous service. They love telling their friends about the discount they get from their $1,000 lawyer.

The current economy has left us with a ginormous shortage of skilled manual laborers— construction workers, welders, electricians, and plumbers.

Jobs that require certification but not a college degree. Someone with those skills can enjoy a high five — or even a low six — figure salary — as much as many doctors and lawyers. The reason for their high value is simple; they are not easily replaced. My advice to them is to start early providing more than the customer expects, smile often and broadly, and have lots of professional business cards in their pocket. Build up a clientele that talks about them.

All wealthy people — actors, athletes, business owners, executives, artists, authors, all rich people — focus on value, not time. Stop focusing on time and start thinking like a rich person.

By the way, the pot grower accepted my offer and I took home one of his paintings. It look’s great hanging on my wall. The compliments I get from family and friends are of tremendous value to me. Had he started with that, instead of his cost, I would have paid more.

Peek-A-Boo by Michael Swinnie



Jerry Roth
Ascent Publication

It’s only lonely at the top if you're there by yourself. 44 years of management experience I would love to share with you. Visit