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paul wheaton
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In the earliest part of my software engineering career, I would be lucky to earn $5000 in a year.  My first steady gig paid $18,000 per year and, in time, I got raises to the point of earning $24,000 per year.  I wore shorts every day and I focused on my productivity alone.  I lived my life fully - and I was focused on having fun and thought "professionalism" was something for people that worked in sales. 

When I was earning about $90,000 per year, I was "pretending to be a professional."   I met people that were earning $400,000 per year and I was curious what they did that paid so much more.  It didn't look any different than what I was doing.  That curiosity led to a lot of critical education - and I was able to harvest a lot more coin.

professionalism level 0:  minimum wage, part time = $5000 per year.  Professional 50% of the time.

professionalism level 1:  $16,000 per year.  Professional 70% of the time.

professionalism level 2: $18,000 per year.  Professional 85% of the time.

professionalism level 3: $24,000 per year.  Professional 92% of the time.

professionalism level 4: $40,000 per year.  Professional 96% of the time.

professionalism level 5:  $80,000 per year.  Professional 98% of the time.

professionalism level 6:  $150,000 per year.  Professional 99% of the time.  Will never blame others for anything.

professionalism level 7:  $500,000 per year.  Professional 99.9% of the time.  Embraces the concept of being "the blame sponge" and gladly accepts the blame for all things.


One really good software engineer being paid $500,000 per year can do the work of 20 software engineers being paid $80,000 per year (20x$80,000=$1,600,000).   Some of this is engineering skill, but a lot of it has to do with professionalism. 


Nearly all people at level 2 are utterly certain that they should be paid just as much as the people working at level 7.   I have seen comments on the internet dozens of times saying something about "nobody deserves that much money." 

A level 7 professional often works very long hours, and those hours will all be very productive.   A level 7 professional will often make dozens of lists, and prioritize tasks based on what will produce the greatest benefit for least effort.   A level 7 professional bring a massive dose of "figure it out" to every job.  And the "give a shit" factor will be really high - but at around level 4, the "give a shit" takes on a radically different twist:  a level 4 professional will bring a massive dose of "give a shit" to do anything to keep their job.  A level 7 professional will have ten times more "give a shit" about the project than about keeping the job. 

I have so much to say on this topic that I could fill several books.  But for now, I just felt the urge to express this.
 
Sebastian Köln
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I did not work nearly as long in software development as you, Paul.
And I have only been up to "level 4".

However…
Observation 1: Increase in level -> increase in responsibility
Observation 2: Increase in level -> increase in understanding of the details of the subject

I also think that your 20x productivity gain is partially due to the complexity of the software that has build up over time.
Some of the problems are also out of the domain of most people. Sometimes it requires the skill of mathematicans … who by chance also knows how to write a program.
 
Bethany Dutch
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I have to say this - I was finishing the walls in my house this last week, and listening to a variety of your podcasts while I did so. One thing that struck me several times last week and did again with this thread - I really, truly, appreciate your stance on money, earning money, getting paid, profit, and all that. With the level of "voice" you have in the permaculture community it's really nice to hear someone say that it's okay to make money. I got a serious side-eye from a fellow permaculturist the other day for suggesting something similar.
 
John Athayde
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I'm still involved in the software world (from a design/UX/front-end/product management perspective) and this is spot on. I see a lot of this stuff related to abilities in the following areas:

* Ability to see the problem for what it is
* Ability to apply an appropriate solution with an eye to the future
* Ability to separate feedback about your work product from feedback about you as a person
* Ability to manage people (not just as a "I'm your boss" but in so far as managing expectations, leading from the front, clearing roadblocks)
* Willingness to jump in and work towards solution to the problem
* Ability to recognize others over yourself

I still work, full time (and then some), remotely from our homestead. I'm somewhere between 6 and 7 depending on how you do the math. I push fixes to the code base at midnight because they're needed and that's when I can get to them. I make time for family as well and that stays work-free 99% of the time.

The first two points above come with experience. I can often solve relatively complex UX problems in a short time because I have decades of experience (been doing web professionally since 97). Same with high-end software engineers that I know. They have perfected a process to get to a solution quickly while at the same time not creating technical debt.

To apply it to a homestead or permaculture project, it's the difference between someone one year out of a PDC vs geoff lawton. I conjecture that Geoff speaks the pattern language of permaculture. It's as native to him as English. He doesn't have to think, he just sees. And like a language, he's still learning and coming up with new ways to express himself. You (not Paul), or I, relatively new in our walk, have to think about things more. We'll go through numerous sketches and hopefully avoid type 1 errors.

The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander is instructive here. It preceeds A Pattern Language, abused by software developers and architects alike. From Chapter 27:

To make a building egoless, the builder must let go of all his willful images, and start with 
a void. You are able to do this only when you no longer fear that nothing will happen, and you can therefore afford to let go of your images.  At this stage, the building’s life will come directly from your language.

Yet , at the very moment when you first relax, and let the language generate the buildings in your mind, you will begin to see how limited your language is. One place can have good patterns in it and be dead. Another place can be without the patterns which apply to it, and yet still be alive.

The pattern ALCOVE–which first functioned as an intellectual crutch–is no longer necessary to you. You see reality directly, like an animal. You make the alcove as an animal might make an alcove–not because of the concept–but directly, simply because it is appropriate.


That ability described there is why someone at Level 7 can charge $300 an hour, and should.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Bethany Dutch wrote: I got a serious side-eye from a fellow permaculturist the other day for suggesting something similar.


Are they suggesting that all permaculturists be independently wealthy?  Or are they saying that all permaculturists should be destitute?

When people say things like "permaculturists shouldn't charge for their work" I really have to wonder how the heck they live - are they allowed to charge for their services?

Doesn't make a lick of sense to me.

 
John Athayde
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Tyler Ludens wrote:
Bethany Dutch wrote: I got a serious side-eye from a fellow permaculturist the other day for suggesting something similar.


Are they suggesting that all permaculturists be independently wealthy?  Or are they saying that all permaculturists should be destitute?

When people say things like "permaculturists shouldn't charge for their work" I really have to wonder how the heck they live - are they allowed to charge for their services?

Doesn't make a lick of sense to me.



There is definitely an undercurrent that profit is evil and anyone doing Permaculture and making a profit is thereby also evil. I believe it comes from the same place that changed "return of surplus" to "fair share". Fair share is already handled under "Care of people". Anyone who is trying to take care of people is going to think in that mentality. "Fair Share" otherwise to me seems to be "I want what you created but I don't want to work for it". Some animals are more equal than others, etc. (That's going to piss off about half the board, I'm sure)

I've known many people in my life that fall into this group, and I think most of this comes from not having run a business of any kind in their lives. This is the same group that says "I can't make a living farming" while they've expended all their focus and capital on social justice. There's a place for those things, but if you can't keep the lights on, you need to evaluate your business model.
 
Joshua Myrvaagnes
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I like the idea of de-coupling the concept "professionalism" from the concept of "money" and of "working for another human being."  In my mind, the idea of working for another human being is off.  It's co-dependent.  I'll please you and then you'll give me love and money (survival or luxuries).  If the professionalism is in service to something more-than-human, abstract, general, then it is clean.  I serve the mission, and the particular person who benefits takes from it what is beneficial to them.  My survival is primarily in my relationship to the land, as was the case before the Industrial Revolution and as will be again after the age of automobiles.  Then my service to others is primarily about my cultivating of excellence at what I do. 

Yes, a result of this can be that I'm more marketable, that I can get 20 people's work done in the same amount of time.  But it's not that I've gotten 20 times better at impressing people or kissing up or manipulating them, etc., which is what I got messages about on the subject of professionalism.  (How you're dressed, pad your resume, kill yourself for the job, etc.).  It's not professional to kill yourself for a job, that's just crazy.  It's professional to be willing to sacrifice your life for a true cause--that's worthy of the name of professionalism.  But not for a concept like "job" as defined by other human beings.  There needs to be inner authority.

So interesting to see this discussed from permaculturist perspectives with some experience with the monied world as well.
 
Joe Ruben
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This thread contains a message that everyone should consider every day!

Some thoughts from my experience:

Want to make top dollar?  Those who do make great income almost always work longer and harder and more steadily than those who don't.  They also often can be found doing things that many others say "I could never do that!"

And that brings us right to the crux of this issue:  Supply and Demand

There is ALWAYS a demand for those who do work others don't think they like:  For instance, a home/business cleaning service is a very good business since those who make lots will know that their time is better spent at what makes their income.  Same with a sewer clean-out service.  Same with real estate sales and, yes, even car sales!  The list goes on and on and DOES NOT require a university degree.

The flip side of this is those who imagine that they will find success by "following their bliss" or some such nonsense ( oh, remember the 80's and 90's ).  IMO, doing what you love is much more likely to be an opportunity for those who start by doing what is needed in their local economy, not what they think "sounds like fun".

I regularly hire lawn care and handyman services.  I often find it hard to get these things done!  What sort of professionalism is needed for those jobs?  Have a business card.  How about returning calls promptly ALWAYS.  Showing up a few minutes BEFORE you agreed to.  Making sure that you can give a price, write an estimate or a bid, asking for pay by giving a professional looking invoice to your customer, and, of course, being respectful of your customer's wishes.  PAY ATTENTION !   What you think should be done is mostly irrelevant!  If you want someone else's money you better pay attention to what THEY want!  So not inconvenience the people who pay you or they will find someone else who isn't inconvenient to work with.  The bottom line here is YOU CAN CHARGE MORE AND GET WHAT YOU CHARGE BY PROFESSIONAL !

This stuff applies at every level of the the economic world and in every locale.  I live in a rural area in one of the poorest counties in my State.  My wife and I have a steadily growing business.  We weathered the "great recession" when many of our competitors quit or moved away.

So here is a description for our jobs:  We work on the schedule of others.  We work when others want us to, not when we choose ( or, we choose to work when others want us ).  We work evenings, weekends, and take few vacations.  We work to please every customer ( yes, some will never be pleased ).  We ask for a written note of reference from all customers, even if things were not easy with that job. ( Knowing what wasn't liked is more important than knowing what was liked. )  Now we put those references on our website, but we stated out with them in a 3 ring notebook that we could show customers.  We make mistakes and take responsibility for them.  Our competitors spend Thousands per month on advertising.  We don't advertise except for our website and we still make more than most of our competitors (after 20 years of working the same business in the same place ).

In 1981 we were scraping for  money and had big dreams of our "back to the land" ( the catch phrase from those days ) place with the same stuff that is regularly discussed here on Paul's fine site.  Now we have it!  Yes, the road was bumpy and the goals changed a little and we accepted variations of our dreams that could be attained.  We are still working on it now at ages 68 and 62.

We found inspiration long ago from the I Ching.  I can quickly summarize what we learned that is permanently valuable.  Quote from the ancient sages:  "Perseverance Furthers"

I wish all who read this thread that you may have the self understanding to get up and WORK EVERYDAY !



 
Jocelyn Campbell
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I like Paul's scales (thinking wheaton eco scale, too) and his seemingly never-ending effort to understand where people are at within the scale or their experience or expertise.



I was surprised to learn that most of our recent PDC attendees had never heard of the 'triple bottom line.' This is where profit, people and environment are ALL part of the bottom line goals of a company. (Kind of meshes another trio, doesn't it? ) I worked for a family-owned corporation that had a very high-integrity, triple bottom line focus and it was a fantastic experience. Their whole corporate culture was about doing good business, plus doing right by customers, employees, and the environment. There are SO many ways that operating a business in this manner can lead to even more profit, that I don't want to get started on that now.

John's quote and summary of The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander reminds me of Blink by Malcom Gladwell. The knowledge and wisdom from years of immersion, expertise and experience in a subject creates this almost-instant, intuitive sense of how things should proceed, or what to do that is of HUGE value (when applied well, any way).

Getting back to the high-integrity corporation (that's truly not an oxymoron phrase right there), it was such a great work culture, that if someone made a mistake, and another person pointed it out, the person who made the mistake would own it, apologize, and then both folks would troubleshoot not only how to fix it, but what could be done to prevent future mistakes. Working with people who own their shit (another form of professionalism) just makes everything move forward a thousand times better.


 
Brett Hammond
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I believe professionalism is doing what you say you are going to do, when you said you would do it, with a high standard of quality, without disrupting normal operations of the customer, or offending the values of the customer. This includes working with people (coworkers/customers) you can't stand to be around, or under conditions you don't like, in order to get the job done. I don't believe professionalism is necessarily based on productivity. They are separate attributes. You can have two very professional, very experienced people with vastly different productivity levels, and perhaps different income levels.

I was an embedded software engineer for 25 years, eventually making $125/hr as a fiber optic systems engineer/consultant, but can no longer find work because of political correctness and accounting fads (H1B visas, subs to India, etc.). Those that know people with hiring authority that still hire based on performance, I congratulate you. Nurture and broaden those connections so if those connections leave the company, you can still get hired.

I agree with your statement that a good software engineer can out-produce an average engineer by a factor of 20, but very few people I have met with hiring authority would agree with us, because it is not the case in most other professions. They believe engineers are widgets or commodities that are interchangeable. And most people hiring software engineers are not very good software engineers themselves, so they don't know any better and hire based on hourly rate, tax incentives or political correctness. At least I have found this to be the case in the MD/VA/DC area.

I am now a home improvement contractor and the same professionalism I practiced as a SW Eng, I practice as a HI contractor, and I get all my work from repeat customers or  referrals because of it. All my clients are frustrated with the "unprofessional" attitude of my competitors. Most contractors don't show up to do the work when they say they will, or don't do what they said they will do, or cause such a disruption to their customers' lives that they would never get hired back for additional work.

As an example that professionalism is a separate attribute from productivity, I was recently surprised that a potential client complimented my professionalism by the manner in which I turned down their work Their opinion of my professionalism obviously had nothing to do with productivity since I never gave them a bid or did any work, but was based on my showing up to appointments on-time, patiently dealing with a difficult personality at the meetings, promptly responding to their email/txt/calls, understanding technical issues, and taking into consideration unique issues of concern to them to minimize the disruption to their daily lives.



 
John Saltveit
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I think it's easier to market stuff that's bad for people, work for corporations so they don't have to pay taxes or follow pollution laws, or sell useless things to rich people.  I agree with most of the people on this thread that if you do good work, you can at least find a level of prosperity that works for you.  Many of us would rather do a good job working 40 hours a week and spend time with our families than work 80 hours a week, be rich and  neglect them.  I also agree with Joshua's point that if all you are doing is working for some corporation and you don't get to do anything else that makes for a full life, you don't have a good life. You are a widget.  And you are probably not for good stuff either.
John S
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john mcginnis
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The value of a professional is in what you don't see -- like all the errors that would have been committed had they not been directing/designing/approvings things. That value goes up with the scale or scope of the project.
 
Billy Sawyer
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John says; "Many of us would rather do a good job working 40 hours a week and spend time with our families than work 80 hours a week, be rich and  neglect them."

I totally agree with you about this and is exactly why I "dropped out" of the rat race so to speak.  I was working and working and working but my kids were at home without me.  The "give a shit" really has to be defined as to what you care about.  Is it the productivity of the company or the quality of your own life including those around you.  Professionalism as defined here could be categorized with selling yourself out to a life that is empty and void. 

I don't make much money now.  I struggle financially but by choice.  I am rich in family life and doing what I feel matters most. 

I am a capitalist and believe in entrepreneurship but now I am more careful about weighing the costs to all the stakeholders involved in my endeavors.   I care and like to figure things out.  Am I less professional because I don't make BIG money?  No, I don't believe so.  I have a small startup farm and I work as a web consultant.  I dress relaxed and don't cut my hair and beard.  I wear old comfy shoes, faded blue jeans, and wear my shirts out.  I am neat in appearance but most would not consider me professional by looking at me.    But when there's a problem my clients know they can call me and I will get the job done and get it done correctly.

Do I deserve $500k a year?  Nope.  People I know that make that kind of money are toooooo uptight.

 
Jotham Bessey
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There evolved this idea that riches meant financial security and therefore you would be mentally relaxed and happy.
There are 2 problems with that idea:
1) as everyone struggles to gain riches, more and more people reach that point and it is no longer riches. You can only make "Lots of money" or be "Rich" if you are ahead of the pack. The rat race is a race that never ends, even for the chief rat.
2) If you have a lot of money, there are a lot of poor out there that are struggling to get that money, and that, in itself, is a source of concern and unhappiness.

Professionalism, however, doesn't have to be that. as was said, in level seven, you bring lots of "give a shit" about the job to be done. Not give a shit about if you'll keep the job.
IMO, professionalism is not gained by doing a good job and pleasing customers but by WANTING to do a good job and please customers.
If you are just trying to please customers to keep the job, you must compete with all the other people in the business.
If it is a job you WANT to do professional and high quality, the only person you need to compete with is the person you were yesterday.
If you do that, your work will continually increase in quality, speed, and efficiency. And demand for your work will increase.

For some professions in some areas, there may come a point that you will have to increase the cost of your service/product to reduce demand.
Should you increase cost just because you can? I don't think so because that is the main driving force in inflation and, in the long run, inflation does no one any good.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Jotham Bessey wrote:
For some professions in some areas, there may come a point that you will have to increase the cost of your service/product to reduce demand.


I think it is perfectly acceptable to decline projects because one isn't interested in them; it isn't always necessary to raise prices.  With our business, we decline jobs if we feel the money is "too expensive" - the deadline is too tight, or the project concept is esthetically distasteful, or other factors which reduce quality of life.  We've raised prices ridiculously in order to try to make a job go away, but it didn't work!  We ended up taking the job - yes, because the money was very large and also because it was a creative challenge.  It turned out that money was fairly expensive, but not the most expensive.  We've since decided that expensive money is too expensive. http://www.permies.com/t/54918/frugality/Working-money-expensive

 
C. Letellier
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There is more to levels of value as a professional.  Always learning, willing to take on new challenges, willing to say "I don't know but I will learn"  It is also about commitment to doing the job correctly for the customer.
 
Gilbert Fritz
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A story I like; a rich man had a stem ship that just stopped working. Nothing anyone tried could get it working again. Finally, somebody suggested calling in a old man who was really good with machines; but he was expensive. The rich man called in the expert. The old man walked in, picked up a hammer, and tapped one pipe. And the ship worked just fine again.

Then the old man said "My fee is $1000."

"What, for tapping a pipe?!"

"$1 for tapping the pipe, $999 for knowing where to tap!"
 
paul wheaton
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Brett Hammond wrote:
I believe professionalism is doing what you say you are going to do, when you said you would do it, with a high standard of quality ...


Yes!

It seems I got called in a lot to do things I had never done before.  And I like what joel salatin says about "anything worth doing well is worth doing poorly first."  In which case, predicting how long it will take is tough. 

The important thing is that highly professional people will keep their word without ever uttering "promise" or "my word is my bond" or "if I say I will do it, you can count on it being done."   A level 7 professional will make estimates and qualify their statement with "I think I can get that done in four days." 

Here are things I have heard from people that were level 3 or lower:

"trust me"

"my word is my bond"

"i promise"

While I'm on this jag ...   here is a phrase I hear from a level 7 professional:  "I don't know."


I was recently surprised that a potential client complimented my professionalism by the manner in which I turned down their work Their opinion of my professionalism obviously had nothing to do with productivity since I never gave them a bid or did any work, but was based on my showing up to appointments on-time, patiently dealing with a difficult personality at the meetings, promptly responding to their email/txt/calls, understanding technical issues, and taking into consideration unique issues of concern to them to minimize the disruption to their daily lives.


Very excellent points. 

A professional communicates professionally.   This includes fast response time and showing up for meetings on time. 


patiently dealing with a difficult personality at the meetings


I built a career out of this. 

 
paul wheaton
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Do I deserve $500k a year?  Nope.  People I know that make that kind of money are toooooo uptight.


"Uptight" could possibly be rephrased as "extremely focused on the job."

Here I sit, in my office and the only reason that I don't work 100 hours per week is that I am trying to keep from making myself sick by working too hard.  And rather than take a vacation or do the things that normal people do (root for the home team, hang out at a bar, go to the hot springs, travel ...) I try to find ways that I can relax for fifteen minutes so I can go and work for three more hours. 

It was a similar sort of thing during my software engineering days.  I did not like it, but it seemed like I worked with five other people like me, and 80 people like you.   People like you got stuff done, but at 5pm you went home.  And there would be the same five of us there every evening.  We left at 7 or 8 and the same five us were back at it at 6am.  We would see you come in at 8 or 9. 

Eventually, I traveled your path as my time outside of software engineering was being consumed with permaculture. 

So, "toooooo uptight" is spot on.  Others will say "let's all go the hot springs!" and I will stay and work.  The idea of sitting in the hot springs seems boring to me - what is accomplished?  At the same time, I respect that I am in the minority on this.  For every person like me, I am sure that there are a 70 people that would rather go to the hot springs, or to the bar, or the coffee shop, or the movies, or bowling, or to see the missoula maggots, or play for the missoula maggots, or go on a hike, or go rock climbing, or go on a bike ride, or visit some far away country, or play golf, or rent a boat, or go shopping ...  I confess that I am a much better person because jocelyn makes me go to stuff like this once in a long while ... but my nature is "toooooo uptight."
 
John Saltveit
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I think that a lot of neuroscientists will say that most people are happier with a balanced life. Howard Gardner showed how there are different intelligences that help us to understand different aspects of life.  In the book, "The BLue Zones" the author shows the places where people are healthiest and accidentally, they were also the happiest. No jails, no crime, no unemployment.  They were all poor. There was no separation between recreation and work.  You sing, you work, you go for a walk. You do whatever you need to do at the time.  I think most people will be most satisfied in life with a balanced life. However, that doesn't mean that people like Paul will.  I think we're all trying to figure out that balance that works best for us working with the rest of society, family, friends, culture, etc.
JohN S
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Billy Sawyer
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paul wheaton wrote:
Do I deserve $500k a year?  Nope.  People I know that make that kind of money are toooooo uptight.


"Uptight" could possibly be rephrased as "extremely focused on the job."

Here I sit, in my office and the only reason that I don't work 100 hours per week is that I am trying to keep from making myself sick by working too hard.  And rather than take a vacation or do the things that normal people do (root for the home team, hang out at a bar, go to the hot springs, travel ...) I try to find ways that I can relax for fifteen minutes so I can go and work for three more hours. 

It was a similar sort of thing during my software engineering days.  I did not like it, but it seemed like I worked with five other people like me, and 80 people like you.   People like you got stuff done, but at 5pm you went home.  And there would be the same five of us there every evening.  We left at 7 or 8 and the same five us were back at it at 6am.  We would see you come in at 8 or 9. 

Eventually, I traveled your path as my time outside of software engineering was being consumed with permaculture. 

So, "toooooo uptight" is spot on.  Others will say "let's all go the hot springs!" and I will stay and work.  The idea of sitting in the hot springs seems boring to me - what is accomplished?  At the same time, I respect that I am in the minority on this.  For every person like me, I am sure that there are a 70 people that would rather go to the hot springs, or to the bar, or the coffee shop, or the movies, or bowling, or to see the missoula maggots, or play for the missoula maggots, or go on a hike, or go rock climbing, or go on a bike ride, or visit some far away country, or play golf, or rent a boat, or go shopping ...  I confess that I am a much better person because jocelyn makes me go to stuff like this once in a long while ... but my nature is "toooooo uptight."


Oh Paul, that is so me.  I work.  That is what I do.  I have always taken pride in all that I put forth my effort into.  You mentioned Salatin's re-coin of a phrase I had adhered to since I was a teenager:  "Anything worth doing is worth doing well."  When I was in a crunch time and the project was being a pain in the hind side I would remember "Anything worth doing is worth doing well"  it got me through that tough situation.

Now it is more at what I choose to put my effort into...my family and land.  I am the guy, like yourself, that worked the weekends, took the jobs no one else would, worked alone at 3am (still working from 6am the day before), came in early to get ahead of the day and worked to meet the goal, not 8 to 5.  I was (still sort of am) in IT.  I was an IT manager 3 times for three top achievers in the world market, systems engineer, network engineer, blah blah blah.  New stack of books constantly at my door.  I like to read, I even like to read the technical literature that constantly consumed me.  My last venture was at an ISP where I was an IT Manager because I needed the money but for what?  I suppose to keep up my high level of professionalism I tried to maintain which included the whole package. 

I still work but really try to avoid putting too much effort into the wrong battles.  There is always something that needs to be accomplished.

As for professionalism, could the levels you use to categorize the pro be synonymous with "responsibility" depending on the context?  Because I am a professional with my family in that regard, or with my farm and in that I should take the same level of professionalism I exerted to the employer and apply it to my family, farm and neighbors now.

I thought about this topic more this morning.  The person(s) that takes the 100% (99.95) responsibility should be paid more that one only taking a portion of the responsibility.  As a manager or employer needing someone to fulfill a job role I want the person who is dedicated and "focused" on my objective.  Too many times I ended up with the level 4 and unders... I would pay to meet my ends and to get the right person for the job.
 
r ranson
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While I'm on this jag ...   here is a phrase I hear from a level 7 professional:  "I don't know." 


  • I don't know, but I'll find out.
  • I don't know.  What a great learning oppretunity
  • I don't know. Let's work together to find a solution.
  • I don't know.  I'll investigate and let you know what some of our options are.
  • I don't know.  I'm looking forward to the challenge of finding the answer.


  • Considering I'm a happy level zero professional, but will save up and spend my pennies on the best professional I can afford, these are the things I like to hear coupled with "I don't know". 

    I don't trust a person who can't say "I don't know" and mean it.

    Something I like to see in a professional is the willingness to help a person learn how to do it themesleves - maybe even to the point of providing a free resource like a tutorial with suggestions on books to read.  I imagine lower level would be fearful that they would lose their job if their customers knew how to do the work.  A higher level professional would be thrilled to have someone learn (and more importantly listen) from them, then do most of the work themselves, then and only then call on the professional for the tricky bits.  The high level professional knows how valuable their time is and appreciates not having to waste it on the basic stuff.  A high level professional appreciates the customer learning about the process as it helps the customer understand that the time and skills that the professional has is even more valuable than they are paying.  The high-level professional would do this so that the customer would learn the right questions to ask.

    For example, if I got a car, the first time it needs an oil change or something, I would take it to the shop.  I would ask the mechanic to teach me how to do basic maintenance (I would pay them for the lesson, but I imagine if I was low maintenance customer and a good learner, the professional might toss in the lessons for free since I'm already paying for whatever I brought my car in for) like checking oil or point spark plugs, or whatever else makes cars happy.  I imagine a professional would be glad to teach me these basics.  They might even suggest a book on basic car care I can find at my local library.   If the mechanic wasn't willing to teach me these basics of car ownership, then I would see them as a waste of my time and money.

    I imagine a high level professional understands that their time is valuable.  They also understand that their customer's money is valuable.

    In my opinion, a high-level professional doesn't talk out his ass and act like she's the only person in the world who can do what she can do (even if she is).  A high-level professional would act as if anyone could do it if they put the time and effort into gaining the experience and/or training that they have and the passion for the subject matter, here's a resource to get you started (for free or the price of a library card) come back when you've read and tried such and such, and I'll recommend a new book to get you to the next step.  I imagine the high level professional is not afraid of having their position usurped, so they have a strong spirit of sharing (but only with people who put their own effort into it - I don't imagine a high-level professional would want to waste their time with hand holding).

     
    Bethany Dutch
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    Tyler Ludens wrote:
    Bethany Dutch wrote: I got a serious side-eye from a fellow permaculturist the other day for suggesting something similar.


    Are they suggesting that all permaculturists be independently wealthy?  Or are they saying that all permaculturists should be destitute?

    When people say things like "permaculturists shouldn't charge for their work" I really have to wonder how the heck they live - are they allowed to charge for their services?

    Doesn't make a lick of sense to me.



    I'm not entirely certain why - but it's this mentality that everything should be free love and peace, everyone helps each other and it's all wonderful happy blabbity blah. Therefore, anyone who wants to charge that hated MONEY THING for their services, knowledge, or products is to be villified. Maybe it's just socialism, I don't know. (And yes, I know I'm veering a bit off track here, but oh well!). I probably have a very unpopular opinion here. But maybe it's not so much that people shouldn't charge money, but the idea that they shouldn't charge so much money that they have an excess after the bare minimum. I strongly disagree with this.

    You see it a lot in the creative community, not just permaculture - the idea that an artist that isn't "starving" is somehow a sell out. That's why you'll see women knitting hats that take an hour and charging $5 for it, while lamenting that they wished they could make a living doing what they love. Sure, she's charging money for it, but after her materials she's probably made about $2.50 for her hour of time. I think a lot of the time the creative not-driven-by-money people (which probably includes a lot of permaculture folks) are afraid of making money, because they don't consider their creative time spent as valuable, and so there is a lack of professionalism that is applied in general.

    I think to those people they see their permaculture activities differently than they see their employment activities, and like it would be "ripping people off" to charge for it. Like, (in one of the podcast examples) they wouldn't think twice about hitting up Paul to ask him to promote their product, and spend hours of his time doing so because it benefits them because he's got this great huge audience (because it's all for the greater good! permaculture! SHould be free!) but I doubt most of them would even dream of calling up the local plumber and asking him to come fix their pipes for free or the local electrician to wire their new house for free, etc. I bet even most of them wouldn't consider calling Paul and asking him to do his software engineer stuff for them for free, even though it's also just based on his time. But somehow, the permaculture work (or, in Paul's case, this includes the work that has gone into establishing the audience he has, and the daily work in maintaining it) becomes of no time/monetary value to them.

    The other day I was at a festival and I bought some handmade soap from someone who was new there and I hadn't met before. Her prices were really too low and I commented to her she should charge more, and I am a former soapmaker, I know what goes into it. Her response was "There's no reason to gouge people." I didn't quite know what to say to that. Her prices were well below the going rate, there would have been no gouging. That was a prime example of someone who did not think of themselves as a professional, and someone worth being paid a professional wage for their expertise and work.

    I think professionalism goes hand in hand with not being afraid of ambition and the making of money. I also think that a lot of people who seem to think that farmers shouldn't make a decent living are living in a "money is wrong" mentality that I'm not entirely sure is easy to get past, and I don't know what the answer is. Like wanting to make more money is somehow superficial and wrong - at least if you want to make more money than the bare minimum. You have to have the right perspective on money itself in order to get past that - money is a tool to be used to achieve a goal, but is not the end goal itself.

    I grew up middle class, two college educated parents, etc. I'm fairly ambitious (although my ambition is more geared towards the lifestyle I want to live and money is just a means to that). My ex husband was raised in a poverty situation with a mom who was very happy to collect welfare and barely make it by, rather than work a job and support her family. The differences in what we felt realistic, lifestyle wise, was astounding. I think, in a lot of ways, it was hard for him to even envision a life where we owned our own home and have cars that aren't junkers and were able to actually be financially comfortable. And for me, that was just a normal expectation and I refuse(d) to settle for a life where we were scraping by and searching the couch for quarters every month to pay the phone bill. I think he started to understand before we split - that ambition and hard work that results in more money isn't the worst thing ever, because there's a big difference between those people who use money as a tool to achieve an end, vs. those people who make massive amounts of money and hoard it just because. But it was a big reality check for me, just in the sense that some people just truly can't envision making more money and being ambitious without feeling like a sellout.

    And, in a big way, I think it really DOES go back to the way I see it - there are two types of people - the type of person who wants something and will work hard until they achieve it, vs. the type of person mentioned in this thread (and also a few times in Paul's podcasts that I'd mentioned) of the person who thinks everything should be FREE (when in all actuality, they just want something based off the efforts of someone else so they don't have to put in the work).

    Anyway - I'm rambling at this point. I love this discussion though - I'm a capitalist through and through.
     
    Tyler Ludens
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    Bethany Dutch wrote:
    You see it a lot in the creative community, not just permaculture - the idea that an artist that isn't "starving" is somehow a sell out. That's why you'll see women knitting hats that take an hour and charging $5 for it, while lamenting that they wished they could make a living doing what they love. Sure, she's charging money for it, but after her materials she's probably made about $2.50 for her hour of time. I think a lot of the time the creative not-driven-by-money people (which probably includes a lot of permaculture folks) are afraid of making money, because they don't consider their creative time spent as valuable, and so there is a lack of professionalism that is applied in general.


    Yes, it is a problem.  That attitude drives down prices for everyone, and cheapens arts and crafts in society.

    Regarding your soap-making acquaintance, she may have been basing her idea of "fair prices" on mass-produced items, so saw charging a hand-made rate as "gouging."  I think this is common, because people are used to such low prices at the store.  If they want for instance a handmade toy, they're shocked at the price and say, "but I can buy something like it for $5 at Walmart!"
     
    Gilbert Fritz
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    Bethany, I agree. Farmer's can't make a living because they would have to charge so much more; and they either don't feel it is right, or the customers will not pay it. If we go to a post oil future, almost all of our "incomes" (time and energy, however it is measured) will be spent on food, clothing, housing, and fuel, with non left over for all the gadgets we currently spend our income on.

    However, many will not buy hand crafted soap, hand knit sweaters, and Farmer's Market produce, because they would simply be broke. Seems like the only way to get around this is to each get good at a craft and trade our abundance; we can't by quality items while working a low quality job. If we have a high quality job, we may have no time left over for permaculture, and or may compromise our values. A difficult problem.
     
    John Weiland
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    Re: "Her response was "There's no reason to gouge people." I didn't quite know what to say to that. Her prices were well below the going rate, there would have been no gouging."

    There's possibly another angle here, dependent upon the rules of a local farmer's or craft market.  I recall a story where a dual income professional couple decided to market their garden produce at a local farmer's market.  The set their price on their tomatoes base partially on grocery store rates and partially on the fact that  "hey...it's not like we need the income....no need to gouge the customer if we really don't need the cash".  The upshot from the story was that the other vendors at the farmer's market, many of whom were making a living off of their sales, were rather incensed at this attitude.  Don't know how it would have been best resolved, but perhaps some consideration for the "going rate" at the farmer's market could have been used, if it didn't seem to be outlandish.
     
    John Saltveit
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    Bethany et al,
    Yes, it is a problem that people think it's bad to make a living.

    I don't think that those are the only sides of professionalism.

    Americans work more hours than anyone else in the developed world.  Our rates of cancer, stress, heart disease,  obesity, and diabetes are astonishing.

    Most people in Europe will say, "I'll do a good job for 40 hours, then I'm going to spend time with family, friends, culture, hobbies, exercise, community, etc."

    Many people in the United States seem to be trying to stop us from talking about our culture.  The healthiest and happiest people in the world don't work 60 hours a week like we do.

    They may not have as much stuff, but they have healthier families, less stress, a better sense of community, and they have less cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

    If our culture is only about working all the time to make more money, I want no part of it. That's inhumane; it's not good for humans. Some things are more important than money.

    You can be a professional in your work life, and still keep a sense of the culture of your own life that is not work time.

    John S
    PDX OR


     
    David Livingston
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    I must admit that John is the first person in this thread I feel some sort of agreement or even common vocabulary with .
    . I do not see what is described by Paul as professionalism I would call it competence . I have worked in many large organisations in the public sector and in most structures I have observed two types of person .
    Firstly someone doing a really good job . The result promotion .
    Secondly someone who cannot cope in their current role .
    People in the first group are promoted until they fill a post that puts them in to the second group .
    People in the second group either get retrained until they become part of the first  group again  , stagnate or leave .*
    For me I see permaculture as part of my way of life that includes other factors both political and artistic . I dont see it as part of work its not a job . So questions on this site along the lines of how can I make a million $ a month from by backyard by using permaculture  miss the point in my eyes .
    I know many people capable of producing great art or craft  whom I would not trust to run a tap for money- they have zero business acumen . Why should we assume that a great artist or artisan should be good at handling money? Its like expecting a great gardener to also be a great Shushi chef . Sometimes it happens sometimes they find a good promoter/manager etc but mostly not, a quick look at historical examples of painters for example show many living a life of poverty only to be "discovered" after their deaths. Or John Seymor for example
    Bethany I am a proud socialist and would be happy to discuss this with you in the cider press . ( I dont eat babies nor have two horns despite what is said in the USA media )

    David
    * I am sure I have read this as a management theory sometime only taking 6000 words to say  
     
     
     
    Tyler Ludens
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    David Livingston wrote:
    For me I see permaculture as part of my way of life that includes other factors both political and artistic . I dont see it as part of work its not a job . So questions on this site along the lines of how can I make a million $ a month from by backyard by using permaculture  miss the point in my eyes
     


    I also see permaculture as a way of life.  Part of life is making a living, unfortunately in our society making a living usually requires making money.  So if one wants to practice a permaculture life, making a living with permaculture seems a better idea than making a living without permaculture.  I haven't figured out how to make a living with permaculture, and I don't think I can because nothing I know how to make is needed by permaculturists.  I'd like to encourage other people to make a living with permaculture if they can, and not discourage the idea of making a living with permaculture. I think permaculture can help move us to a point where we don't need to work as much for money.   Paul wrote about Gert the permaculture millionaire.  She isn't a millionaire because she works 60 hours a week, she's a millionaire because she doesn't have to work much for money.

     
    David Livingston
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    " I haven't figured out how to make a living with permaculture, and I don't think I can because nothing I know how to make is needed by permaculturist "
    I am a little confused by your comments are you saying that to be a permaculturalist you need to make money from fellow permaculturists ?
    I think having a part time income and contributing to the rest by growing your own food is perfectly fine
    Sometimes I wish I could find someone like you who lived quite close to me to share projects , costs and produce I am sure it could work out to the benifit of both of us
     
    Tyler Ludens
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    I'm saying what I make isn't permacultural, it is made of plastics.  So it isn't something permaculturists would purchase.

    I would love to share with you, David! 

     
    C. Letellier
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    Remember that law of supply and demand applies here too.  If supply is to high then prices drop.  This is the problem with many crafts listed.  To many people wanting to do it to make a living.  One the other hand if you have 40 years of experience, your work is fairly technical, it is often done in uncomfortable conditions and it involves hard labor then very few people are going pay the price to reach that level.  I find very few people willing to learn when I am willing to teach because it is "to difficult". 

    Another thing is a professional sticks to it even when he doesn't know the answer.  It may mean passing it to someone who does have the answer but mostly it means putting his head down and being stubborn about finding answers.  It may mean whole days written off trying to find an answer.  It may mean trying one thing after another.  I have found that when I can explain to the customer what I want to try next and why that most are fine with I don't know as an answer.  It may mean finding a good enough for now answer.  For example I was working on putting a used big square baler on a customer's tractor.  Getting the modifications to the tractor needed to do this done.  In the course of this he had a flat tire on the inner rear tire.  He called to get the tire fixed and the tire shop couldn't get the outer dual off to get to the inner tire.  This is because someone mounted the outer dual backwards putting the bolts in a nearly impossible situation.  Now I am sure I can solve it but it will likely take a day to find a way to get it.  The customer was very unhappy with the tire shop guys for leaving him hanging.  But instead we went around the problem so he could get to baling.  Dump 2 gallons tire stop leak in the tire.  As long as he is rolling the tire will stay up.  Then when the hay is up and we have time we will find a way to get the dual loose.  The tire shop guys should have been able to suggest this as an alternative.  Instead they left an unhappy customer for me to find an answer.  And they hadn't even made a credible try at solving the problem.
     
    John Saltveit
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    I agree about problem solving. 

    The law of supply and demand applies to labor too. I'm not willing to work 70 hrs a week even if you pay me a lot because i won't be able to do more satisfying things that save money and let me have a balanced healthy life.
    john s pdx or
     
    K Putnam
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    I didn't have much constructive to contribute to this thread when it was started.  I agree with pretty much all of it and didn't have much to add.  But I have figured out something over the last few weeks that I'd like to add.

    I used to have a hard time charging people for my services.  My services were good.  People wanted to pay for them.  My clients are well-off.  I'm sure I lost clients because I was so bad at the billing side of things.

    Here was the problem: I didn't have enough clients.   Now, that was by choice. I was busy running a non-profit as well, so I didn't cultivate my client base.  But, in my core profession, I wasn't rising quickly up the rungs of professionalism because my energy was largely being directed towards something else.  As soon as I redirected my focus towards my actual profession and dramatically upped the amount of work I was doing, any hang-ups I had over charging people disappeared almost overnight.  The more work I do, the more I am happy to be paid for it. May that bank account continue to recharge every two weeks for my hard work.

    My new rules for myself are these: Be serious about your work.  Do as much of it as you can without it physically or emotionally harming your life.  Be serious about getting paid. Invest those resources in a way you find fruitful.  The more you work, the more you have to work with. 

    These rules can apply to paid jobs or to work done on a piece of property. 
     
    Billy Sawyer
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    In one office I am currently consulting for there exists some staffing issues.  The issues boil down to professionalism. 

    There is a well defined article at the link below on professionalism.  Please read it first. 

    I personally think that each and every company has to define its own definition of professionalism and consider the trending definition of the core standard of professionalism.  Meaning that we need to set our standard of professionalism based on the company values and beliefs, those we work with, our clients, and other businesses that we deal with.  We need to consider, when doing business, what the other company may consider as being professional and respect that standard when doing business with that company.  Its a respect of culture and belief of others. We may not believe or practice as others do but we should respect others for what they believe and practice.  It makes for healthy relationships. 

    As far as professionalism within an organization, I believe it is up to that organization to define their own standard.  It may be inappropriate for one single employee to wear a suit and tie while all the other employees wear jeans or of course the other way around.  As far as permaculture is concerned I don't see a set hierarchy or set standard for behavior.  I think in my mind that a permaculturalist is a person who is conscience of the world they live in and those around them.  Therefore I would expect that person to conduct business in a respectful and considerate (to other) kind of way and be professional as defined by some set of respectful and considerate value system.  Who's or what system is the question.

    I suppose if you are selling organics that they need to be truly organics.  You should not say you are selling organics if they are truly not organics.  So who defines organics?  My point is that according to the article at MindTools.com (their standard definition of professionalism) expects a professional to be honest.  Also, If you are selling organics then you should be knowledgeable about food production especially the foods that you are growing and selling.  How you conduct yourself on your farm would be your set standard of professionalism and how your conduct yourself with others such as consumers and other farmers is also your set standard of professionalism as it should be when dealing with others.

    One person may say that another is not professional.  Where is that standard derived?  Who sets it?  Maybe there needs to be a loose set of "permaculture" standards of professionalism.


    https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/professionalism.htm
     
    paul wheaton
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    I think about this thread several times a day.  I feel like what I need to say here could fill three or four books.   And each time I come here to add a little something, I think "that's too simplistic - reality is a hundred times more complicated than that - and I don't have the time today to write that."

    So I think it might be wise to start making a mega list of bits and bobs.



    A level 7 professional will say "I will have that done in one week" and you can now plan the rest of your project around that getting done in exactly seven days.  And it will be done well.

    A level 2 professional will say "I will have that done in one week.  I promise.  And you know if I say it will be one week, you can count on it because I'm a professional. And it will be done right.  Trust me."  And in seven days you have heard a long list of flimsy excuses compounded with finger pointing.   Then comes a bunch of stuff about how the price needs to be re-negotiated because of all the unforseen problems.  And money will need to be paid early to keep the project rolling. 


    Consider sending a package via UPS and they say it will get there in 7 days.   But at the end of 7 days they instead call to tell you about a lot of problems ....  your package is now halfway there, but they will need more money to get it the rest of the way there ...  but once you fork over the extra money, it will be there FOR SURE in four more days.  "Trust us."  And after two months, six re-negotiations and far too much hassle, the package finally arrives and UPS then asks for a five star review because of all the excellent customer service they provided. 


    What if I fall short?  If I dropped to being a level 5 professional, a level 7 professional will deal with it and raise his rates.  A level 2 professional will use my shortcomings as further excuse for weirdness and be even worse.  Wanting even more pay for even less work.

    If I dropped to being a level 3 professional, I suspect that the level 7 professional will wrap up current business and simply not do business with me anymore.   And a level 2 professional would probably sue me.


    The future is built on professionalism.   If you lean on four people for a project and one of them falls short, it can seriously fuck the whole project.  If you try to do 20 projects simultaneously ....   


     
    paul wheaton
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    A funny thing about taxes ....   if i agree to pay for 20 different projects - so i set the money aside to be professional level 7 (after all, my end of the agreement is part with coin) ...  suppose there are six projects that were going to be done by september.  And to pay for those, I have set aside $5000 each for a total of $30,000.   And then things drag a bit, and drag a bit, and then they take time off for holidays, and as long as you are on holiday, why not make it an extended holiday ...  And then it is decmeber 31 and I am sitting on $30,000. 

    If I spend the $30,000 in september, then my annual income is reduced by $30,000.   But if I have to hang on to it on january 1, then the government says that I have an extra $30,000 to pay in taxes.  So the government takes $10,000 and leaves me with $20,000 to pay for $30,000 worth of projects.  Because the goverment does not care that the projects have fallen behind schedule or that people want to take an extended holiday rather than finish their projects.

    Meanwhile, the people that are dilly-dally-ing with projects, their mindset is either "go ahead and give it to me now - you can trust me that I will finish quickly" or "go ahead and pay me when I am done - which might be mid january, or maybe next june"  As far as they are concerned, it is not their problem.  But this comes back to the whole thing about being able to build on professionalism.  If the project is done in september, as was the original prediction, then not only are those funds then paid out, but I can then do all the things that were going to be built on top of that project and move the whole empire forward.

     
    Kyrt Ryder
    Posts: 746
    Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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    Regarding the unfortunate reality of working with less than top tier professionals, project budgets and taxes, are escrow services a way around having excess income?
     
    paul wheaton
    master steward
    Posts: 22488
    Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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    a level 7 professional shows up one minute before a meeting begins, or at the exactly correct time, every time.

    a level 4 professional shows up between five minutes early and ten minutes late.

    a level zero professional generally shows up 10 to 30 minutes late for meetings, and about a third of the time doesn't show up at all.
     
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