$375 an hour is a lot of money. It was even more money 20 years ago when a bougie investment bank paid me that to share my honest opinion with some of its biggest customers.
Many people don’t know this, but I got my start in writing covering video games of all things. It was the ideal subject for an early twenty-something like me. I threw myself into the “work,” was one of the most prolific tech bloggers for AOL (aka America On-Line), and had a blast attended game conferences, interacting with readers, and crafting sentences for a living. It was a lot like Tom Hanks character from Big. I was getting paid to play with toys and critique commercial art.
The pay wasn’t great. But when paired with magazine freelancing, it was enough to support my small, apartment-living family. I’m smiling right now just thinking about it.
After a couple of years of this, I received an out of the blue email from a fancy-sounding American bank I’d never heard of. They said they liked my work and wanted to pay me $375 an hour to consult with some of their investors. A quick Google search revealed they were legit—one of the top 30 investment banks in the world, albeit near the bottom of that list.
I was floored. “Don’t they know I don’t even make that much in a long day of work, let alone an hour!” I thought. Whether they did or not, they didn’t care. That’s what they paid me.
So over the next couple of years, I fielded phone calls from investors wanting to know my opinion on video games, and where I thought the industry was heading, so they could make more informed investment decisions. Often times these calls only lasted 30-45 minutes but I still got paid for the full hour. Once I met a wealthy banker in a luxurious hotel to talk shop. He was nice man.
I worked no more than 10 total hours for this bank. It didn’t make me rich. But it did teach me that I was worth way more than I originally thought. That’s because there are always bigger fish in the pond of life. Sometimes whale-sized ones you didn’t know existed until swimming to other parts of the pond (especially California and New York).
Since then, I’ve encountered many other “whales” that have humbled me by their valuation of my time and skills. It’s not all fun and games, of course, even for someone who literally worked in games before. There is no substitute for hard work, after all. And luck will only take you so far before eventually running out.
Moral of the story: if you work hard and know your profession well, you are worth more than you think. But you must learn from your mistakes, swim in deeper waters, and believe in yourself for that to come true. It did for me. It can for you, too.