Money’s not the thing

By: Stella Orange

Years, ago, perhaps five, Sarah and I had a conversation that I carry with me still.

I was having a hard time discerning who I wanted to collaborate with, and who I didn’t.

At that point in my business, I had enough of a reputation that I had people approaching me with opportunities. Usually this meant that they wanted access to my mailing list of 8,000 subscribers.

My rational brain knew these were business opportunities.

But I wasn’t a whole body yes.

These days, I have more words for what was rubbing me the wrong way:

  • When you meet a stranger, it’s weird to suggest a collaboration as the first step
  • When you reach out to someone you don’t know to suggest a collaboration, it’s weird to have an assistant do it
  • It’s also weird to do it via email, using a stock template that was not personalized
  • There was nothing alive or delightful about any of it (it was all canned, processed, and prepackaged)

Sarah helped me midwife a list of who I DID want to do projects with:

The theater kids, not the “it” girls. I’m here for the weirdos and the folks living and working off the beaten path. As someone once said, get out of the mainstream. It’s the tributaries where the fun’s at.  

They’re doing a good job of being human on an inhuman platform. The internet has a way of flattening complexity and nuance. Dumber forms of capitalism have a way of turning relationships into transactions. It took me years to understand this. Now, I look for a glimmer of imperfection, originality, or transgression of the “rules” many of us were taught about building an internet-based business in the Before Times. 

Money’s not the most interesting thing.  Yeah, we make money. Yeah, we tend to money. But we WORK for another reason entirely. Money’s not the motivation. Rebecca recently talked about what the most interesting thing is. For me, the most interesting thing shifts and changes.

Right now, my most interesting thing is a vision of my babies on my new bike with me, one in a bike seat up front, and one in a bike seat on back. In their little bike helmets with the wind on their faces and the sunshine shining down on us all as we joy ride around town, singing and grinning and waving at strangers.

The Philosopher would like to add that we are all wearing sunscreen.

I make decisions by holding those choices up to that image, to see what belongs. Does it belong in my summer of biking bambinos? Or not?

Right now, I’ve got a note on a piece of scratch paper under a magnet on our fridge:

Everything that belongs.

It reminds me to center myself, as the hub of the choices I make.

What belongs here, and what doesn’t? And yeah, money belongs. But it’s not the most interesting thing.

Stella is cofounder and copywriter at Las Peregrinas, a creative and consulting agency. As our resident word nerd, she writes copy and points out the stories everyone is living and telling through their work. She is also fun at parties.

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