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paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22183
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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One day I was at my job as a software engineer and I was making about $35 per hour. And we hired a guy that the company paid $300 per hour. He didn't seem to be all that great. But rather than focus on how he should be paid less, I became hyper-focused on how there were software engineers that earned $300 to $1000 per hour. What does it take to qualify for that. I met some other people that seemed to be watching the same sort of thing and started trading notes.

My new philosophy was: by going into an office and doing software engineering that helps a company (rather than software engineering that seems cool, fun and changing the world for the better), I am, effectively, a prostitute. Selling my services. So then what makes the difference between a $2 whore and a $10,000 whore? If I'm going to spend an enormous slice of my life being a whore, why not get paid far more?

Within a few months I had tripled my pay and gradually raised it more and more .... I could fill quite a few books on what I learned, but today I am writing about one very specific point.

While working at a place where I was getting very good pay, I met a guy that was getting $5000 per day and I took him too lunch. And I told him that I had the evil intent to extract clues from him on how I, too, could earn so much per day. I got the impression that there was something about me that he liked and was open to sharing.

There were lots of things he shared that were damn sharp. And it seemed a bit like everything in permaculture: it isn't just one thing, it is dozens of little things that all add up. At the top of the heap was this glaringly obvious thing: never reveal your age.

He then laid out the logic. Which, once he said it, made such perfect sense that I'm shocked that I never thought of it before. It's so simple, it seems that it would be one of the great facts for all of society. For each society in every culture.

If you do not reveal your age:

- icky people will assume you are too old or too young - thus be reluctant to work with you.

- lovely people will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your age is closer to the idea - thus be more likely to draw you in.

Therefore, icky people push you away and lovely people draw you in.


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It seems that it used to be that you would never ask an adult how old they are. But now it seems to be pretty standard stuff. Even more, it is a large part of many parts of modern society. If you want to use a dating site, you are posting your age. In fact, a lot of stuff where you are dealing with computers, if you don't reveal your age, you are not allowed to participate. Anything in the health care industry or the banking - required.

So, perhaps, in this small way, we had something much better many decades ago. We called it "respect". You show respect to people by not asking their age, or not asking how much they earn. But today, it is not considered rude to ask somebody for their age or their birthday.


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In a similar vein, some people need to know your birthday. They usually want to figure out my astrology stuff. And I always say "you tell me - what is my sign?" About half the time, they get it right.


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I guess I've now spent so much time embracing this man's advice that there have been times where I had to do the math to figure out how old I am. My guess was a year or two off. There have also been times when I would realize "oh, my birthday was four days ago! So how old does that make me?"


I think his advice really does work: not sharing your age repels icky people and draws in lovely people.


 
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